How Weekly Puzzling Sessions Connect People
Written by Soon Cho / December 20, 2023 / Profile Photo: A group posing after completing the Cantaloop Puzzle
Have you ever thought of having weekly puzzling sessions with your friends?
It's like a weekly lunch meetup or movie nights, but with puzzles. Pick a nice cafe with large tables, block out 3-4 hours of your day, and call your friends to join. This is exactly what happened in Da Nang(Vietnam), where I currently live and work. As a founder of SOONNESS (Canada based jigsaw puzzle brand), I am always planning puzzles, testing new products, and checking out what the puzzle community is up to. Since the pandemic, there was a hype around puzzles and more and more people are getting hooked into this magical, screen-free activity. And this leads to new events that bring the puzzle lovers together, such as speed puzzling competitions, puzzle swaps, puzzle meetups in different cities, and much more! Well, one day I decided to create a puzzle event myself, with the people I met here.
I didn't expect a high turnout.
Although there are millions of people who love puzzling and the puzzle community is growing everyday, I know that it is still a niche activity. However, when I asked a group of friends if they would be interested in puzzling together, there were a number of people who wanted to join. While I thought just a couple of friends would show up to puzzle with me, the number grew bigger as the sessions went on, up to 8 or more. Da Nang has a growing expat & digital nomad community, so there were people from different countries and age groups, which made the puzzling sessions so interesting. We tackled the recently released puzzles, which were Cantaloop, New World, and Candy Factory. Each puzzle took about 3 sessions to complete, spending 3-4 hours each session. Besides the fun we had, there were many benefits from the regular puzzle meetups.
I have been puzzling mostly alone- for me it's a therapeutic solo-activity when I am mentally exhausted or whenever I want to keep my hands busy listening to an audiobook. In addition, I need to check the quality of the puzzles for SOONNESS (wink wink). So puzzling in a large group (5-8 people) was a totally different experience. I quickly realized how people had different approaches to solving puzzles, and each person enjoyed working on their part. Some loved working on the edges, some worked on specific colors, and some liked matching the pieces randomly to figure out where the pieces went. But in the end, different sections came together, making good progress. It reminded me once again, that puzzling teaches us teamwork, and we can use our differences to reach the same goal(often much quicker and easier).
Puzzling welcomes everyone
During the puzzling sessions, there was a balance of different personalities involved. There were more social groups, where they loved to converse as they puzzled, and there were also the quiet groups, who liked to put on their earphones and focus on puzzling. When there were more of the social friends, there were more loud cheers and claps whenever someone put the piece in the right place. On the other hand, when there were more introverts, the session was peaceful and chill, making faster progress. Whatever the "vibe" was, it sure welcomed different personalities, making each session special.
Although we already had the group who joined to solve a puzzle, we met new people naturally. As our sessions were done at a cafe, there were many other people who were hanging out or working with their laptops, and they peeked at our table as we were having so much fun. Some kids who came to the cafe for an art workshop wanted to join us during their breaks so they put a few pieces in. Then I started talking to the kid's parents and we became friends. Even in our puzzling group, there were some people who had never met, and at the end of the puzzling session, they were already comfortable with each other.
Although puzzling occupies our brain(and hands), it also creates a wonderful environment to talk about different topics in between. The conversation ranged from small talks to serious discussions, and we learned from each other's stories and experiences. We would share our opinions on different cultures, religions, and even some random thoughts we had in the week. As we had a common goal of completing the puzzle, there was never a dull moment. We helped each other to find the pieces we were looking for, we would point at our favorite piece (depending on color, shape, and texture), and often the group would be curious about the artist's work, and I would give them a brief story about how we collaborated and show more of their works on instagram.
Fun activity that boosts your brain & mental health
Most importantly, the puzzling session is a healthy activity that doesn't require much planning, but comes with many benefits. Unlike going to the movies or other events, it creates a cozy atmosphere to get to know each other, work on a common goal, and improve your mental health. Regular puzzling will help you get off the screens for a good 3-4 hours, and declutter your mind (especially when you are stressed).
Tip: How to pack puzzles for the next session
You might be wondering how we carried on from where we left off if we held the puzzling session at a cafe? Well, after each session, we simply sectioned out the puzzle that were pieced together, and carefully stacked them inside the box to store it. And in the next session, we just put them back together. You could also purchase puzzle roll up mats and storage bags that are available from various brands, so you don't have to break the puzzle into sections.
Since I started creating puzzles with my own art back in 2021, I never knew how powerful "puzzles" are. I learned so much through growing SOONNESS as a puzzle brand, but in summary, here are the 3 reasons why I love puzzles.1. It calms your mind, and regular puzzling improves your life
2. It connects people(like the puzzle pieces), and brings people together
3. It makes you appreciate art and beauty, and create a lot of joy
I am always grateful to have found the puzzle community, and will continue to create beautiful puzzles, promote artists, and provide joy. Happy Puzzling!