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Puzzle ideas! Buy local, try a bizarre mystery puzzle or put together the Golden Girls on National Puzzle Day

Red Castle Games on Southeast Foster in Portland sells hundreds of puzzles online, to pickup at their door.

PORTLAND, Ore — It's National Puzzle Day on this Friday, January 29. No year in the history of time was better for puzzles than 2020 when we were looking for things to do at home in quarantine.

"A puzzle is within your control and it provides a lot of relaxation for people," said Matthew Micetic, owner of Red Castle Games on Southeast Foster and 71st in Portland. It's a great place to find some new challenges and puzzle ideas. Averaging $20 per puzzle, demand at the store has never been higher than right now.     

Credit: Nina Mehlhaf
Just a few of the puzzles available for sale at Portland's Red Castle Games on SE Foster

If it's been awhile for you, Micetic says the best way to start is build the border first. Lots of people color-sort their pieces. Starting to look for pieces in a unique or patterned area of the picture can help you get going faster.

Family Puzzles

  • Make it accessible: Micetic says gearing toward the 500 count puzzles is a great idea for families looking to do them with younger kids. There's a feeling of accomplishment, as they complete the puzzle quicker. 
  • Learn something new: "Dr. Livingston's Anatomy Jigsaw puzzles are great. Each one has a different number of pieces and for different areas of the body, but as you get each box, you can complete an actual 6 foot human body and put them together." They are $24.99 each and you can find them linked here.
  • Make it fun: There's a puzzle called 299 cats and a dog that is very colorful and makes a circle. "This is only a 300 piece puzzle so you'd think it'd be on the easier side, but as you can see, all the pieces are shaped like cats so it's not so intuitive how they fit together." It's $19.99 and linked here.

Buy Local

Badge Bomb is a Portland company that has traditionally made playful, cartoon metal pins, buttons and patches you may have seen around town. They've jumped into puzzle market as well now and have very colorful themed art puzzles and cartoons. See all their options here, they're $19.99.

BetterCo. is out of Salem. Beautiful photos and the monochromatic colors of planets or sky can be a great challenge. See all their options here for $27.99.

And, founded in 1968 in Portland, Pomegranate is the biggest with hundreds of choices. See them here.

Credit: Nina Mehlhaf
A whole table of Portland-made puzzles from Pomegranate at Red Castle Games.

Challenge Yourself 

There's a series of puzzles called Murder Mystery Jigsaw Puzzle, and it is hard!. There's no picture of what you're puzzling. There are two puzzles mixed into one bag, and you complete the two puzzles and the clues to then solve the mystery. They are $14.99 and you can see them here.

There's a company called World's Most Difficult Jigsaw Puzzle that have fun, repetitive pictures. Micetic says they're not impossible and some are easier than others. 

Credit: Nina Mehlhaf
A few of the "most difficult" puzzles Red Castle Games has.

Red Castle's far and away bestseller: a puzzle of the Golden Girls cast. (They have other fun GG themed things you can find here.) Red Castle has every single one of their puzzles and games to buy on their website and pick up at the store.

Credit: Nina Mehlhaf
This Golden Girls puzzle is Red Castle's bestseller.

If you want to save your puzzle once it's put together, there's a glue can you spread on it that dries clear and a spray glue as well. 

There are stackable, puzzle sorting trays.  And what's called "Stow and Go". You do your puzzle on a large piece of yellow felt that helps the pieces from flying off your table...and then if you need to use your table...just roll an inflatable log over the top and it keeps all the pieces locked together until you unroll it. It's $19.99 and linked here.

Credit: Nina Mehlhaf
Puzzle accessories like sorting trays for puzzle pieces, and the Stow and Go which will safely move your entire puzzle, mid-build, off a table and keep it intact. $19.99 at Red Castle Games.