This summer, more and more people are looking to beat the heat and get back to basics for some unplugged fun that the whole family can enjoy. More and more houses are opting for screen-free family nights, and one classic that’s endured through it all is the jigsaw puzzle. Requiring teamwork, cooperation, patience, and the fun of some moments of collective frustration, you’d be surprised what a family can accomplish when given a big jigsaw puzzle and a little time. If you want to organize your very own screen-free puzzle night, here are some tips to help you get started.
Make Sure You Have the Pieces
Before you even get started, you want to make sure that you’ve got all the pieces. If you work for several hours to find that you’re missing a dozen pieces, the family may feel frustrated and won’t want to do it again. If you’re family is new to this, or hasn’t done it in awhile, consider buying a new, shrink-wrapped puzzle rather than fishing one out from the closet or getting a used one from a thrift store, which run a much higher risk of missing pieces. Plus, having spent money on a new puzzle will make you much more likely to want to follow through on your family game night, rather than renting another movie.
Be Realistic About the Difficulty Level
Again, the ultimate goal of a screen-free family night is to show your family that it can be fun, so you’ll want to make sure that you choose a puzzle that’s difficult enough to take up time and require you to work together, but not so difficult that you’ll get frustrated and want to stop before it’s done. If you have little ones in the house and want to make sure they’re included, there are plenty of easy puzzles that adults can still enjoy, but if your family has older children, there are plenty of more difficult puzzles as well. 500 piece jigsaw puzzles are a happy medium that can allow the family to develop a strategy, but because 500 piece jigsaw puzzles take up less space than their bulkier cousins, it can still conceivably be finished in one night.
Make (Non-Greasy) Snacks
Just like no movie night would be complete without popcorn, no puzzle night is complete without finger food. But if you have little ones, or even if you don’t want your brand new 500 piece jigsaw puzzles of Disney villains or an idyllic landscape to be covered in mystery stains, make sure to steer clear of any especially greasy or sticky foods. Soft pretzel bites or tortilla chips and salsa can be a great start.
Develop a Strategy
Planning how to complete a puzzle can be as satisfying as trying to play a game of Risk! You get to decide: are you a border-first family? Will different people work on different areas? This is a great opportunity to show that you know your family’s different strengths (maybe your daughter is great with spatial relations and can figure out how pieces fit together; maybe your spouse is really good at deciphering what that brown blob belongs to). This is why 500 piece jigsaw puzzles are also a solid option for a family puzzle night. They allow for a fair divide and conquer strategy, while not being so cumbersome as to stop being fun if family members with shorter attention spans decide to wander away.
Ultimately, the only wrong way to have a screen-free puzzle night is to keep putting it off. Even if you decide that a puzzle night isn’t the right fit for your family, chances are you’ll cherish the opportunity to have spent time together without distractions from screens. If you want to make it a more regular habit, try introducing it twice a month, then gradually ramping up to once a week. In time, you may find that your family looks forward to screen-free game nights, which will allow you one more way to get closer.