Today’s jigsaw puzzles don’t always look like yesteryears’, and that’s for the best: Not all of us care for scenery, birds and flowers as much as we like Disney and Pixar, for instance. Let’s not be snobs, classic puzzles can be very enjoyable, too. But there’s a whole world that opens up when you realize that puzzle themes can overlap quite a bit with the kind of stuff we care about at TechCrunch.
Jigsaw puzzles are also a great way to take a break from screens, so anecdotally, they seem fairly popular with people who spend all day staring at one. This makes them a great gift idea, and we are here to help with a bit of guidance.
As a rule of thumb, smaller piece counts are for children, beginners or people looking for a puzzle snack. Jigsaw puzzles with 1,000 pieces or more typically require more time and experience, not to mention space. That said, there are several other factors that can make a puzzle more or less difficult, so don’t hesitate to check out reviews, too.
Another important word of warning is that like other hobbyists and collectionists, puzzle lovers can get pretty specific in their tastes. What’s fun to one will be a never-ending bore to another, and the difference can be hard to explain to the uninitiated.
If you are buying for a puzzle aficionado who’s not you and you are not sure of what they like, maybe get them a gift card from a good game store or brand. Alternatively, you could give them a cool accessory like the puzzle scoop or a puzzle box stand. But if you are up for the challenge of picking a puzzle, here are a few suggestions to help you find just the right gift for your favorite puzzler slash TechCrunch reader.
The best retro puzzles for nostalgic nerds
Nostalgia is a big sale driver for puzzles; and these days, it doesn’t just mean old trains and vintage cars: It also means floppy disks and VHS tapes. Here are a few options along these lines:
- Floppy Disk Frenzy, a 500-piece puzzle by Imagination Puzzles
- Computer Talk, a 500-piece vintage Springbok puzzle and rare find you’d have to chase on eBay and the like
- Tetris, a 750-piece puzzle by Ceaco
- Classic Cameras, a 550-piece puzzle by Eurographics that comes in a camera-shaped tin can
- E.T., a 500-piece puzzle by Spin Master sold in a Blockbuster-branded VHS case
Supporting entrepreneurs and indie creators
Some brands have been making puzzles for decades, and that’s very cool. But we have a sweet spot for emerging brands and innovation, so here are a few picks from young businesses you may want to boost:
- The Busy Bistro, a 1,000-piece mystery puzzle by the Magic Puzzle Company, a Kickstarter alum, with original art by Oscar Sun
- The Astronaut, an 800-piece puzzle by Emma Repp for Jiggy Puzzles, a company you may know from Shark Tank
- Techno Dystopia, a 1,000-piece mystery puzzle by Evermade with a hidden message
- San Francisco, a 150-piece mini-puzzle by Micropuzzles, a small business and brand created in 2018 that also offers a subscription box
- A Tinkle in Time, a 1,000-piece puzzle by Exploding Kittens featuring a cat in his TARDIS-like litter box
- A limited-release metal puzzle from Lazels
The best robot jigsaw puzzles
We love (and fear?) robots, and so do artists; that makes for great puzzle artwork:
The best space puzzles
Space is another theme that makes for great puzzle gift ideas:
The best geeky puzzles
Geek culture isn’t the same as tech culture, and not all of us are geeks. But let’s be honest: If we had to do Venn diagrams, there would be a strong overlap between, say, startup people and Trekkies; or tech founders and Lego fans! So these are for them. Also, cats:
The best science puzzles
Science puzzles also make for good gifts, and some of them can be done with kids too:
Happy gifting and happy puzzling!