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21 Tips to Picking Puzzles

Does your family have a hard time picking puzzles?

These days my family and families everywhere are completing more puzzles than ever. Who can blame us? Completing puzzles is a great indoor family activity. When it’s raining, too hot, too cold, to be outside with your kids or you are just looking for things to do at home with your kids, puzzles are a great option.

toddler works on a wood puzzle
Even why my boys were toddlers puzzle-time was part of our playtime.

Whether you are new to puzzles or have been doing them for years, you’ve probably found it overwhelming to shop for and pick out puzzles. A generic search for puzzles on any site can reveal hundreds to thousands of choices. Just the other day, my quick search on Amazon revealed 50,000 results. How do you choose a puzzle that’s right for your family with so many choices?

I’ve been there, so much so (and don’t laugh) it’s kept me up at night. I realized I could not be the only one. With that in mind, I came up with a list that all of us can use to help when it comes to picking out puzzles.

6 Things to think about before you buy a puzzle

  • How old are the puzzle builders? How difficult of a puzzle can they handle? If your children are younger or new to puzzles you may want to start with a puzzle that’s 300 pieces or less. If you have more experience and are ready for a challenge, pick a puzzle with 1000 pieces.
  • Where will you build your puzzles? Consider the spacing you’ll need. Most puzzle boxes list the measurements of the puzzle. Use that as your guide.
  • Consider the lighting. Is there adequate lighting in your puzzle area? Too bright or too dark and it can become hard to distinguish a gray puzzle piece from a dark blue one or one color from another.
couple works on a puzzle
  • Think about your budget. How much do you want to spend to buy a puzzle? You can find puzzles for every budget. Generally the more puzzle pieces a puzzle has, the higher quality of the pieces, or the more artistic it is, the more expensive it is. Dollar stores sell 100 piece puzzles for $1. They don’t always hold up for very long, but they are good for the short term. Craft stores usually offer 500-piece puzzles for $10 and more. A good 1000-piece puzzle may cost anywhere from $20-$60. Of course, there’s exceptions to every rule. Before you shop for puzzles, decide on what you want to spend.
  • What will you do with the puzzle when you are not working on it? Amazon has a few options that allow you to safely store puzzles while you are still working on it.
  • What will you do when you are finished with the puzzle? We have some we want to save forever. We’ve used this puzzle glue to hold the pieces in place while we looked for the perfect frame. Other puzzles we’ve boxed up and traded with friends as part of a community puzzle swap.

It’s always the small pieces that make the big picture.

Author unknown

15 Tips to Picking Puzzles for Your Family

A quick note of disclosure. The puzzles pictured here represent a variety of those sent to us to review, those we’ve purchased, and those we’ve completed as part of a neighborhood puzzle swap. In each caption, we’ll make a notation.

Many of the links will also be affiliate links. If you make a purchase using them, we earn a small commission. It doesn’t affect your price but it is a small way you can support Jersey Family Fun. Thank you.

an image of assorted puzzle pieces in a pile

Pick puzzles for places you love to visit.

Puzzles can be one of the best souvenirs to help you remember a family vacation or trip together. Each time you complete the puzzle with your kids you can talk about your memories from the trip.

Find a puzzle for a place you want to go.

Are you dreaming of a vacation to Walt Disney World? Planning a trip to Universal Studios? Counting down the days to a cruise?

A vacation-themed puzzle can be part of your countdown to your trip. Use one to surprise the kids with your vacation news. Or build your puzzle as you talk about the things you want to do together on your family vacation.

Netherlands puzzle with tulip fields and a windmill
One of my favorite puzzles, Tulip Field – Netherlands. We bought it to remind me of my trips to Holland and my Dutch heritage.

Pick a puzzle that brings back favorite memories.

Over the years, I have built so many memories taking my kids out to different destinations across New Jersey and our region. I want to stock up on these puzzles to relive the memories as we build the puzzles. Which puzzles would you pick first?

Select puzzle images that bring you joy.

There is something about looking a certain pictures than can make us happy. Pick one of these puzzle themes to build joy into your day.

boy works on picnic puzzle from Lemonade Pursuits
Lemonade Pursuits sent us this picnic puzzle to review.

Are you a sports fan? Pick a puzzle that celebrates your favorite team.

Whether your family cheers on the Philadelphia Eagles or the New York Giants, the Philadelphia Flyers or New York Rangers or another sports team, pick a puzzle to show your team spirit.

Puzzles from local sports teams

Celebrate a holiday with a puzzle

Holidays bring extra time for puzzle building, especially as pies and turkeys cook in the oven. Get one of these holiday puzzles and make assembling it a new family tradition.

Kids play sports? Find a sports puzzle that matches their activity.

Got a kid into sports? Score big with your kids by picking a puzzle based on their sports interests. Discuss strategy and how players work together on a team like you work together to complete the puzzle.

a scattered pile of puzzle pieces
“Life is like a jigsaw puzzle, you have to see the whole picture, then put it together piece by piece!” – Terry McMillan

Pick with your passion in mind.

What are your hobbies? What about the kids? How do you like to spend your time, when you aren’t doing puzzles? No matter how you spend your time there’s a puzzle to match.

a puzzle with images of baskets
Photo Credit Gina Lincicum, Moneywise Moms

Find a puzzle that helps you learn.

In addition to being fun, puzzles can also help you learn. Take a look at these styles of educational puzzles.

young boys work on a puzzle at a museum.
The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia has puzzles in the Outside In space for kids.

Remember a favorite movie with a puzzle.

Family movie nights are the best! If you’re like most families you probably have some go-to movies you always loved to watch. If it’s a really popular movie, you can probably find a puzzle that features your favorite characters or scenes from the movies. We did some searching to help you get started.

Build a love for reading through puzzles.

With the most recent shipment of puzzles and games we were sent to review, I discovered there are puzzles themed around books kids already love. Take a look.

University Games makes Dog Man puzzles
University Games makes Dog Man puzzles and sent us two to review.

Put together a puzzle that challenges you beyond the puzzle.

Think when you put in the last piece of a puzzle, you’re done? Most of the time you are. That is unless you are completing a mystery puzzle, an escape room style puzzle, or one with challenges. Challenges can come in the form of puzzle pieces that fit more than one spot, in final images that don’t exactly match the picture on the box, pictures that have riddles within them, or a picture that solves a mystery. Sometimes it’s even a combination of all those things. We recently did our first mystery puzzle, through a puzzle swap, and it contained all of those challenges. Turns out it was the hardest in the series. Always read the reviews before buying a mystery puzzle so you know if you’re ready for the level of difficulty that puzzle will be.

Escape Puzzle 759 by Ravensburger
We tried the Escape Puzzle 759 Submarine by Ravensburger as part of a community puzzle swap. It was the hardest puzzle we’ve ever done.

Find an art image that inspires you.

Do you love art? Do you find the images inspire you? There are puzzles that represent abstract art, watercolor images, and famous works of art.

Joyspotting, was another puzzle sent to us from Lemonade Pursuits

Build a puzzle that becomes art.

In recent years, I’ve discovered 3D puzzles. Buildings, sculptures, clocks, robots, and more, these puzzles turn ordinary puzzle building into works of art you’ll be proud to display.

Pick a puzzle you create.

You probably have seen puzzles made from photos, but do you know where to get them from? Here’s a few companies and Etsy sellers that will create a customized photo for you based on your photo or message.

Pick Puzzles by Puzzle Makers

Would you rather search for puzzles by some of the top puzzle makers and see if inspiration strikes? Here’s some puzzle making companies to start with.

Lemonade Pursuits

Inspired by the stress-relieving qualities of jigsaw puzzles, Lemonade Pursuits partners with female artists around the world to create uniquely artful and calming puzzles.

Specifically choosing art intended to soothe the mind, design elements of these artistic puzzles are scientifically proven to induce relaxation and inspire joy. By incorporating shades of blue, repeating patterns, fractals, and natural scenes, Lemonade Pursuits intentionally develops puzzles with artwork that calms the mind.

Shop for Lemonade Pursuits puzzles at their website,


Over the last 130 years the Ravensburger blue triangle has become a respected trademark that represents a family company dedicated to promoting fun, learning and family togetherness – important values in today’s fast-paced, tech-driven world. While having endless hours of playing fun with their innovative products, children learn to think ahead, to accept losing graciously and to follow directions. Ravensburger puzzles, games, arts & crafts and science activity kits develop concentration, imagination and children’s experience of success and independence.

Shop for Ravensburg puzzles at their website,

University Games

University Games started up in 1985 and have been making children, family, and adult party games ever since! In more recent years they’ve expanded to include puzzles, brainteasers, and crafts and activities.

Shop for University Games puzzles at their website,

Pew Pew Lasercraft

Pew Pew Lasercraft makes high-quality wood and acrylic jigsaw puzzles. Looking for a real challenge? A crystal clear puzzle is surprisingly tough, or how about a blank wood puzzle where you can add your own artwork?

Shop for Pew Pew Lasercraft puzzles on Etsy,

Tell us about you. How do you like to pick out puzzles? Do you have a puzzle-building strategy? We want to know. Let us know in the comments below.

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