Putting together a jigsaw puzzle has become one of the trendiest activities in the past year. In addition to wholesome fun and satisfaction, studies show that puzzling has plenty of benefits. Puzzling can…

  • Relieve stress and ­lower blood pressure.
  • Improve visual and spatial reasoning and attention to detail.
  • Strengthen bonds with family and friends as you chat around the puzzle. 
  • Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of puzzling…

Before you start

Check the box for the puzzle’s dimensions to ensure that your workspace is big enough—don’t wait until you’re in the middle of a puzzle to find out! It would be ideal to set up a bridge table in an out-of-the-way, well-lit part of your home. 

Get Puzzling! 

Knowing the exact puzzle dimensions makes it easier to construct the border correctly. If one side ends up longer than the other, chances are you’ve attached pieces
that don’t belong ­together. 

Take the pieces out of the box, and put the border pieces in the box top and the nonborder pieces beyond the space left empty for the completed border. Once you’ve gone through all of the pieces, empty out the border pieces in the middle of the workspace and put them together. 

Tip: To prevent puzzle “dust,” take the puzzle pieces out of the box by hand ­instead of dumping them on your table. It’s also a good way to avoid pieces falling on the floor—many puzzle pieces have been lost forever that way! 

Helpful accessories…

Puzzle boards are large, portable workspaces. Some feature a lip around the border so pieces don’t wander away. Some have built-in drawers to store and sort. One great board is the Porta-Puzzle Caddy ($49.99) from Spilsbury (shown above).  

A roll-up mat is a workspace solution if you don’t have a lot of room. When you’re ready to call it quits for the day, just carefully roll it up—pieces and all.

Beyond-the-Ordinary Puzzles

Turn a favorite photo or drawing into a reasonably priced puzzle at TheMissingPiecePuzzle.com, VenusPuzzle.com and CreateJigsawPuzzles.com.

At MyPhotobags.com, you can select a newspaper and get the front page for the day you (or a loved one) were born.  UniversityGames.com has puzzles that unfold like a mystery novel. Visit ­SeriousPuzzles.com for all shapes and sizes of 3-D puzzles.

StavePuzzles.com makes hand-­crafted wooden works of art, many of which start at about $1,200. It’s where puzzler Bill Gates gets his puzzles.

Warning: Stay away from buying previously owned puzzles. It’s frustrating to find you are missing a piece or two.

Display Your Puzzles

You can buy puzzle glue to lock in the pieces and then frame and hang it. Tip: Before gluing, slip some wax paper under the puzzle in case some of the glue seeps through. PuzzleWarehouse.com has a good selection of glue options.