Picks

The Surprisingly Versatile Low-Tech Gift You Should Give This Year

Photo of a Springbok puzzle on a pink background.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Amazon.

In search of the perfect gift? Read more of Slate’s holiday gift guides here.

I love gift-giving. I’m one of those people that starts planning my holiday shopping in March. There’s a list on my computer, which I frequently update, with gift ideas for family and friends. For me, little compares to the satisfaction of being able to find the perfect present that creatively or unexpectedly reflects a loved one’s interests or passions. That’s why, this year, I’m adding jigsaw puzzles to my gift-giving list.

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My dad got me into jigsaw puzzles. Every holiday season, while he was out shopping for presents, he would pick up a new one for us to work on. He’d unveil it on Christmas Eve, and we’d putter away at it while we sat around decorating the tree. They were usually the generic kind that you could find at department stores or food marts—with wholesome pictures of kittens or pastoral scenery. We had a friendly competition around who got to be the one to place the last puzzle piece and declare it, “finished!”

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As much as I loved those days, I’m glad there’s more on offer now than those dusty generic landscapes. We’re in a golden age for jigsaw puzzles: You can find puzzles in whatever shape, size, or design scheme that your heart desires. Trust me when I say there’s a puzzle out there for every type of person. As a gift, it’s a unique way to show the recipient that you thought about them and their interests, while giving them another way to engage with their hobby. Have a co-worker who loves spending time outdoors? Consider a National Park puzzle. Does your sibling love to bake? Check out a kitschy kitchen or food puzzle. There’s even haute couture for that fashion-loving friend.

Jigsaw puzzles fall into that delightful experiential gift category—perfect for the person who has everything. They can be appreciated solo or with a partner(s). They have no use by or expiration date. They can be enjoyed over and over again, the experience evolving with the puzzler. They also travel well. Puzzles can be done in front of a fire with a glass of wine or cocoa, or at the kitchen table after dinner, or in the living room of an Airbnb.

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If shopping for gifts gives you a headache, have no fear! I’ve curated a list of puzzles sure to satisfy everyone on your list. Bear in mind shipping delays this holiday season—with ongoing supply chain disruptions and distributor delays, online retailers such as Bookshop recommend placing orders several weeks in advance to guarantee on-time delivery.

For the Artsy Friend

For the Architecture Aficionado

For the Fashionista

For the Bookworm

For the Music Lover

For the Foodie

For the (Budding) Scientist

For the Outdoorsy One

For the Jetsetter

For the Fantasy Fanatic

For the Star-Gazer

For the Pet Pamperer