One of my more popular previous posts is Fun is Where You Find It! In this post, I suggested that family crafting can provide a source of cheap entertainment. Finding crafting activities that the entire family can enjoy is productive from a number of perspectives, not the least of which is promoting communication between family members. Of course, not every activity has to be craft related. Every year Rebecca and I put together a number of jigsaw puzzles. They’re inexpensive, require a few hours to complete as a minimum, and also promote communication. We discuss all sorts of things while putting our puzzles together.
One of the complaints about jigsaw puzzles is that they’re boring. In order to make the jigsaw puzzle interesting, it has to have a twist. Some have jigsaws with a theme or find a way to make their family pictures into puzzles. A simple Google search for ‘Turn Picture into puzzle‘ reveals a whole host of options, but for us, we liked our twist to come with a theme. The glow in the dark puzzle offered such a twist, but it was probably more complex than the average family would want to do and the subject matter was along the lines of a Gothic image that many people would dislike (it was of several women walking through a medieval forest at night to a party of some sort). Families will also want to avoid the double-sided and 3D puzzles because they can prove difficult to complete. Some of the jigsaw puzzles we’ve done are quite exotic. We put one together that glows in the dark and some are works of art that we’ve displayed for weeks on the dining room table before begrudgingly packing it away. A few have been oddly shaped or had other special features. In a few cases, we’ve even discussed using Mod Podge to preserve our treasure for all time, but have never quite made it to that point. Should we ever decide to do so, we could easily frame our treasure for everyone to see. Given the number of puzzles we do though, it’s unlikely that any particular puzzle will prove so spectacular that we’ll actually go this extra step.
However, a puzzle we just completed could prove interesting to quite a few people, Murder at Bedford Manor. You put the puzzle together, read an associated booklet that contains the basic story, and then look at the completed puzzle for clues as to who committed the murder.
The puzzle took about 22 hours for two people to complete and solving the murder required another 3 hours, for a total of 25 hours of fun for the low cost of $26.00. Where else can you entertain two people for 25 hours at a little over $1.00 an hour? We actually worked on a 1,000 piece version of the puzzle, but the 500 piece version will probably work better with a family that has younger children with shorter attention spans. The point is that you need not spend vast sums to have fun–a good time can be had for just a few dollars, which is perfect for the self-sufficient family on a budget. What is your favorite jigsaw puzzle? Let me know at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.