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The 8 Best Puzzles for Adults to Gift this Holiday

When’s the last time you sat down and assembled a jigsaw puzzle? As we hunker down through the winter, games, and puzzles are a great way to pass the time, and away from so much screen time.

The great 1700s invention may have become somewhat outdated and overshadowed by tablets, smartphones, and other digitally-driven forms of entertainment, but puzzle-solving has long been a method to unwind and recharge one’s intellectual capacity and reasoning. The best puzzles for adults should be challenging, complex, and akin to a robust and vigorous workout for your brain. To help get you through these work-from-home days, we’ve collected some of the best puzzles for adults that are still available online.

Areaware Gradient Puzzle Collection

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An adult puzzle could be defined as one that stimulates your cognitive awareness. This collection of gradient puzzles is wholesomely challenging and is offered in five different gradient patterns and three different sizes. If you’re looking to get into puzzling for the long haul, you can also opt to bundle the collection and save a little dough. You won’t have much of a picture to refer to, so it will take you a little time to complete, supplying you with a relaxing, meditative, and entertaining home activity. Orders are delayed three to five days due to current restrictions, but Areaware is still processing and shipping puzzles for our amusement.

Size: 100 pieces, 500 pieces, and 1,000 pieces

Bgraamiens The Lines

Bgraamiens The Lines
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Bgraamiens constructs some of the most difficult puzzles you can find, but that just adds to the fun. Crafted out of durable recycled chipboard paper, The Lines is a real brain twister that features a white background layered with a random tessellation of black lines to challenge your mind in every way. If you’re struggling, the back of the puzzle features letters in groupings to at least help you organize the puzzle into sections to get you started. You can expect this to arrive anywhere from one to two weeks after purchasing.

Size: 1,000 pieces

Ingooood Wooden Jigsaw Puzzle Fantasy Series

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If you’re looking for something a little more imaginative and thought-provoking, Ingooood’s wooden puzzles are offered in a wide array of fantasy-inspired landscapes including this abstract river of knowledge. It uses high-quality basswood to craft the puzzle pieces, which are much more durable than the cheaper paper pieces. Ingooood also makes a handy roll-up map so you can save your hard work and stash it away safely. We also love this choice for those of you looking to frame a puzzle for an art piece after it’s complete.

Size: 1,000 pieces

White Mountain Puzzles Beer Bottle Caps

White Mountain Puzzles Beer Bottle Caps
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White Mountain Puzzles makes some of the best options for adults because they tug on the heartstring of nostalgia and familiarity. The Beer Bottle Caps puzzle is a challenging and enjoyable collage. Whether you’re a beer lover or a beer cap collector, and it’s a perfect candidate to be framed and hung on the wall. White Mountain just got its factory up and running again and has a two-to-three week waiting time for new orders, but this puzzle is well worth the wait.

Size: 550 pieces

The Office Collage

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It’s time to pull up a chair and get down to business. Give someone the best of both worlds by combining their favorite show and hobby with The Office Collage. With a thousand Jigsaw puzzle pieces, they can recreate the iconic sitcom’s characters and scenes. It’s also an officially licensed product which makes it a perfect addition to someone’s The Office collection. Anyone who’s a huge fan of The Office will definitely love to receive this puzzle during the holidays.

Size: 1000 pieces

Realtree Snowy Archer

Realtree Snowy Archer
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Realtree offers an inexpensive puzzle for all the hunters and outdoorsmen out there. It’s only 500 pieces, but man, you can already tell that this camouflaged woodland archer immersed in a snowy wilderness is going to top the scale of complexity.

Size: 500 pieces

Galison MoMA Frank Stella

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For art enthusiasts out there, this Galison MoMA Frank Stella shaped puzzle is a great challenge to take on. The artist’s colorful geometric painting, Firuzabad, is the main attraction of this puzzle. With oddly-shaped pieces, anyone who starts this puzzle will be able to put their brainpower to the test. The sturdy puzzle box also makes it a suitable gift. Once the puzzle is completed, it becomes an eye-catching abstract masterpiece that they can display.

Size: 750 pieces

Chafin Dreamy Positano

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Nothing is more fulfilling than completing a thousand-piece puzzle. Especially one that shows the picturesque Positano landscape. Not only will this jigsaw puzzle give the brain a good mental exercise, but the results are worth the challenge. If you have a loved one who is fascinated by beautiful places and puzzles, you can’t go wrong with this gift.

Size: 1,000 pieces

The history of puzzles

The history of jigsaw puzzles can be traced all the way back to Europe in the 1760s. British engraver and cartographer, John Spilsbury, is credited as the inventor of the jigsaw puzzle as he would paste maps onto wood and cut them into small, linking pieces. These puzzles became more popular among adults once the 20th century came along and public perspective on puzzles ascended from juvenile to mature entertainment.

This “progression of the puzzle addict,” which includes celebrities from Hugh Jackman to Bill Gates, is perfectly visualized by American writer Anne D. Williams as extending “from the skeptic who first ridiculed puzzles as silly and childish, to the perplexed puzzler who ignored meals while chanting just one more piece; to the bleary-eyed victor who finally put in the last piece in the wee hours of the morning.”

The addiction aspect is more of a craving than a dependency, however, as it can be a healthy addiction and a great tool to get through these tough times. Whether you need an activity to fill in a stress-free, one-hour break out of your work-from-home schedule, are searching for a brain-stimulating exercise, or are simply looking for more quarantine-ready entertainment, the best puzzles for adults offer a wide range of benefits that will both pass the time and relax the mind.

Benefits of Puzzle Building

As we mentioned, there are many benefits to piecing together a puzzle. Here’s a brief breakdown of those perks:

  • Short-term memory: Puzzles are a fantastic way to enhance your short-term memory as they bolster our existing brain cells by guiding them to new relationships with other brain cells. This will increase your mental capacity as well as the speed at which your brain runs.
  • Mood: One of our favorite aspects of puzzle-solving is its ability to enhance our overall mood. Not only does puzzle building activate the brain yet it also increases dopamine production which heightens feelings of happiness and optimism while reducing stress along the way. (This is precisely why Bill Gates is a raving puzzle fanatic.)
  • Productivity: Increased productivity piggybacks off both of the aforementioned benefits. It’s easier to control your concentration and be more productive when you’re less distracted by anxiety and stress. Seeing as solving puzzles enable us to increase our overall mood and bolster brain activity, productivity gains are sure to follow.

There are more therapeutic activities for quarantine if puzzles aren’t for you. In that case, check out the best LEGO for adults or our favorite drinking board games.

Editors' Recommendations

Bryan Holt
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Bryan Holt is a writer, editor, designer, and multimedia storyteller based in Portland, Oregon. He is a graduate from the…
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