Review: “Dogs on a Bench” by Interlitho Licensing, Vermont Christmas Company – 8/10

If you or someone you love liked dogs, you might want to consider this lovely puzzle from Vermont Christmas Company. It comes in a larger 1000 piece size, and its challenging to find pet puzzles in this adult size. The scene is soft and appealing with blues, pinks, and, of course, lots of gorgeous canines! The puzzle is of easy difficulty and took me three sessions to complete. The Vermont Christmas Company quality is good with hard, solid pieces. The cut is mostly a grid cut, but not all edges line up and some sides have wavy and diagonal edges. There is some glare under overhead lights due to a glossy surface. Assembly is fun but be prepared for a lot of dog fur in white, brown, and black.Read more

Review: “Christmas Tree Farm” by Randy Wollenmann, Vermont Christmas Company – 8.5/10

This is a lovely Christmas themed puzzle from artist Randy Wollenmann. The bright colors are fun, especially the pink in the image. The wintry scene is appealing with kids and families out choosing their Christmas tree. The puzzle is a nice blend of easy elements, like the characters in their unique outfits, and slightly more challenging elements like all the fir trees, snow, and night sky. The difficulty is easy-to-moderate. I especially like the art style, which is hand painted and a little bit cartoony. The Vermont Christmas Company quality is good with hard, solid pieces. The cut is mostly a grid cut, but not all edges line up and some sides have wavy and diagonal edges. Recommended for all who enjoy cartoon or Christmas puzzles.Read more

Review: “Christmas Fayre” by Tony Ryan, Gibsons – 9.25/10

“Christmas Fayre” is a beautiful holiday puzzle from Gibsons set in a traditional English village Christmas market. The puzzle is easy-to-moderate in difficulty. The night-time colors are rich with purples, oranges, and reds. The artwork is a hand-painted scene with a good amount of detail. There’s some repeating greenery and red and white stripes throughout the image that make assembly slightly more challenging–in a good way. I enjoyed seeing all the characters as I put the puzzle together, young couples and families out enjoying the market. There’s lots of Christmassy details like wreaths, trees, advent candles, roasted chestnuts. The Gibsons quality is exceptional with thick pieces and a waxy finish that feels good to the touch. Recommended!Read more

Review: “Small Town Christmas” by Charles Wysocki, Buffalo Games – 9.5/10

“Small Town Christmas” is a gorgeous Americana Christmas puzzle from artist Charles Wysocki and Buffalo Games. It’s a good moderate challenge that took me three sessions to complete. No one area is difficult, but there’s a lot of detail throughout. The palette of bright colors against the snow and blue sky is very cheerful. I particularly liked the red ribbon around the tree, the fir tree lit with candles, and the birdhouses in the sky. There’s so much fun detail to examine in this image as you assemble the puzzle. The Buffalo Games quality is very good with grid cut pieces and a nice box that comes with a poster. Recommended to all fans of Christmas puzzles.Read more

Review: “Whistle Stop Christmas” by Charles Wysocki — Buffalo Games 9.25/10

“Whistle Stop Christmas” is a sweet holiday puzzle from artist Charles Wysocki and Buffalo Games. It’s an easy puzzle to assemble with 500 pieces and strong color and detail that makes it clear where each piece goes. I love the theme of people arriving home for Christmas. As you assemble the puzzle, you’ll smile at the happiness on all the individual faces. The unique costumes and expressions are delightful. I partricularly liked the orange sky on the horizon, the red train station with all the windows, bows, and detailing, and the wintery “white Christmas” snow. The Buffalo Games quality is very good with grid cut pieces and a nice box that comes with a poster. Recommended to all fans of Christmas puzzles.Read more

Review: “Father’s Christmas Train” by Susan Brabeau, Sunsout – 8.25/10

“Father’s Christmas Train” is a cute Americana painting by Susan Brabeau that’s been made into a 500 piece puzzle by Sunsout. At the heart of the painting is a dad having a grand time playing with trains while his disinterested son reads a book. The cozy living room is decorated for Christmas and there’s a definite nostalgia vibe to the image. The Sunsout quality is very good, with sturdy pieces and a fun random piece cut. I like that you can move around a set of joined pieces without them falling apart. This is an easy puzzle that you can do in a single setting and would be good for kids and seniors. Recommended.Read more

Review: “Christmas Chaos” by Francois Ruyer, Piatnik – 9/10

“Christmas Chaos” by Francois Ruyer is a fun but moderately challenging Christmas cartoon puzzle. The artwork is beautifully executed with tons of color and detail. The repeating elements of similar-looking elves and gift boxes scattered throughout the image are tricky, but there are some anchoring elements such as the windows, fireplace, toys, and Christmas tree, which help fill in much of the design. I found myself referring to the box lid often to figure out which piece of elf went where. The Piatnik quality is very good with thick, sturdy pieces, a grid cut, a fairly tight fit, and a nice matte finish. If you like a little more challenge, Christmas puzzles, or cartoon puzzles, this is highly recommended.Read more

Tis the Season: A Christmas Top Ten List

And now for my top picks in Christmas puzzles this year….

My criteria was: a) it can be any puzzle still in print, b) it must be available for US distribution at Puzzle Warehouse, c) I want to cover a range of piece count, brands, and art styles in my list, and d) even though it’s a “top ten” list I can have as many as I want!
Okay. Let’s get started.Read more

Review: “Christmas Village” by Nicky Boehme, Buffalo Games – 8.5/10

“Christmas Village” is a lovely holiday puzzle from artist Nicky Boehme and Buffalo Games that’s easy to assemble. The beautiful and nostagic wintery scene is from an oil painting, and it brings back wonderful memories of Christmas’s past. Buffalo Games’s quality is very good with sturdy pieces and a well-designed box. The puzzle has a grid cut with a nice variety of piece shapes including a few zig-zag shaped pieces. The panoramic design of this puzzle makes for a nice change from the usual rectangular size. No poster is included in this box, and the box image is a little on the small side, but I didn’t have too much difficulty with that. Recommended to all fans of Christmas puzzles.Read more

Review: “Halloween Town” by Randy Wollenmann, Vermont Christmas Company – 9.25/10

I loved assembling this Halloween puzzle! The image by Randy Wollenmann has bright colors and patterns that make assembly easy, quick, and super fun. It was so much fun I completed the puzzle in one session because I just had to do the “next little bit”. The Vermont Christmas Company quality is good with hard, solid pieces. The cut is mostly a grid cut, but not all edges line up and some sides have wavy and diagonal edges. This gave the puzzle a unique personality, and I enjoyed working it. This puzzle is easy enough that it makes an ideal family puzzle. It’s the best of the 2016 Halloween season!Read more