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: “Santa’s Big Night” by RJ McDonald, White Mountain – 9/10

White Mountain’s “Santa’s Big Night” is a classic Christmas puzzle you’ll want to add to your permanent collection. The image is ideal for puzzling with five separate Santa scene vignettes. The colors are bright and cheerful, and the painted artwork couldn’t be more Christmassy. I especially loved the scene in the upper right with the snow-covered fur trees and the children playing in the snow. This is an easy-to-moderate puzzle that would be perfect to work with a group at Christmas, given the layout of the various story panels. The quality is quite good. I especially like White Mountain’s larger piece size and very flat, smooth finish. Highly recommended for everyone this holiday season!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: “A Girl’s Stocking” by Liz Goodrick Dillon, Sunsout – 9.25/10

I loved shaped puzzles. There aren’t that many released each year, so I treasure the good ones when they come along. This stocking-shaped Christmas puzzle is really delightful. The curved border is fun to work with and the image is filled with bright colors and patterns that keep you moving from one object to the other without wanting to stop. I love the quiet scene by the Christmas tree and the soft, painterly art style. The Sunsout quality is excellent too, with sturdy pieces and a fun random piece cut. Highly recommended.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

Brand Overview: Cobble Hill

Cobble Hill was founded in 2005 with the goal of “bringing quality puzzles with a loving, whimsical, nostalgic feel to jigsaw puzzle enthusiasts around the world.” They offer a good variety of categories and piece sizes include 2000 piece, 1000 piece, 500 piece, 400 piece Family Puzzle (with large and small pieces), 275 piece Easy Handling, and kids puzzles under 100 pieces. They are located in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Check out our overview of the best in Cobble Hill puzzles!Read more

Waddingtons 2016 Christmas Puzzle

I’ve been checking the web every day for any sightings of the 2016 limited edition Christmas puzzle from Waddingtons. Today it cropped up! Drum roll…. What do you think?  I think it’s nice, but it’s not my favorite. For the past three years, Waddingtons appears to be using the same artist who creates digital images in 3D with heavy repeating textures (like the gift boxes and ceiling pattern above). They don’t list the artist name on the box. I preferRead more

Review: “Santa on the Roof” by Sergio Botero, Lafayette Puzzle Factory – 8/10

This is a pretty and easy to assemble Christmas puzzle at a bargain price and better-than-bargain quality. The cut away house design gives the puzzle a collage-like effect, with separate areas of color and pattern to assemble. The Lafayette Puzzle Factory quality is decent with pieces that were clean cut and not easily bent. The image is bright and well-bonded to the backing. There was no image lift or damage to the pieces. The cut is a standard grid cut with a good variety of shapes. There was never any confusion about where a piece fit. The illustration style is lovely with nice color and detail throughout the image. This is a recommended addition to your collection of Christmas puzzles.Read more