Make your own puzzle
A simple way to make gift giving difficult is to write names on a blank jigsaw puzzle. Most craft stores sell blank puzzles. You can buy a set of those or you can be design your own.
Fill plastic bags with puzzle pieces and attach them to gifts.
Or modify a perfectly good puzzle
It seems every deep-discount “dollar” store carries shelves of cheap low-piece-count puzzles. Buy a pile of identical puzzles. You will modify each one differently.
- 1 cheap puzzle for each gift receiver. Ideally all puzzles are identical. Make sure that the finished dimensions of all puzzles are identical and the number of pieces are the same from puzzle to puzzle.
- A thin piece of nice plywood slightly larger than the dimensions of your finished puzzle. Or a sheet of stiff cardboard.
- A few strips of 1/2″ by 1/2″ wood trim. Or some strips of cardboard to make a border.
- Sharpie marker
- construct one of the identical puzzles.
- place it on the sheet of plywood.
- position the strips of trim to frame the puzzle with about a 1/4 gap all around.
- glue the trim in place and wait for it to dry.
- Now remove a few (3) pieces from your completed puzzle and discard them. Yup, you will never need these three pieces again!
- Where there is a hole draw a letter. The letters should be either a person’s initials or their name spelled out. Note, if you have someone with a rather long name, consider using only their initials.
- Tear apart the first puzzle and put it back in its box. Do not put the previously removed in the box with the rest of the puzzle!
- Temporarily label the puzzle box so you will remember who’s gift this should be attached to. I wrote the name on a sticky note and attached that to the box.
- Assemble a second box and remove a different set of pieces and mark the holes with someone else’s initials.
- Repeat util every gift receiver has his or her personalized (uniquely defective) puzzle.
- There is now a grid of letters written in sharpie but there are also likely to be many unfilled spaces (unless you have a large family). Randomly fill in all the blanks with a whim of letters. I used an overabundance of letters from “THE MAD WRAPPER”.
- Now you can attach puzzle-filled boxes to gifts. Or you can put puzzle pieces into plastic bags and attach those to gifts.
- Wrap the puzzle board separately and address it to the whole family.