Friday, April 11, 2014

DIY Puzzles

Here is a great idea for a party activity, or a fun twist on a greeting card -- do-it-yourself puzzles.  Did you know that you can buy blank puzzles that you can decorate yourself?  Yep, you can, and you can even get them in various sizes.  You can find these in some party stores, but you can also buy them on Amazon.  That's where I got the ones I recently made.

At my office, we celebrate Pi Day (see this post if you want more information), and I'm usually in charge of the activities.  I needed something that would be fun and that wouldn't take too long.  I decided to make puzzles stamped with random numbers, to be put together by teams of two.  This was a contest, so the first team to finish their puzzle won a prize.  Because these were adults, I chose puzzles roughly 81/2 x 11 in size, with 63 pieces in each. But, as I said, you can buy the blanks smaller or larger, and with more or fewer pieces.  For instance, you might want small puzzles with just a few large pieces to put in goody bags for a kid's birthday party.

You can decorate the blanks any way you choose.  They can be painted, stamped, or colored with markers, colored pencils, crayons, or pretty much anything else you can think of.  For mine, I left the background white (I actually wish now that I had painted the background a color first -- the puzzles would have been more attractive).  Then I got out various number stamp sets I own, along with a few different colors of ink pads.  I needed my puzzles to be all the same, so I set up the blanks on my kitchen table and stamped them assembly line fashion.  Here's a picture of the puzzles in process:

And here is a close-up of one of the puzzles -- you can see where the pieces will eventually snap apart:

I should mention that the one thing you can't do with these puzzles is run them through a printer -- the blanks are made of thin cardboard material, NOT cardstock.  Because they are cardboard, they are pretty much like a "real" puzzle that you would buy, just a little thinner.  And the pieces come apart pretty easily when you are done decorating.

I just packaged mine in plastic bags to tote to my office, but you could do a cuter presentation, as well.  If the puzzle is to be a greeting card, you could slip the pieces in an envelope or small box.  The possibilities are endless.

Cost:  For the size that I bought, the blank puzzles ran a little less than a dollar each, but I did have to buy a dozen.  You may be able to buy blanks individually at a party store.

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