30-Day Puzzle Countdown Exchange Challenge
In December 2022, I did a New Year’s countdown puzzle exchange with a fellow Instagram puzzle friend @puzzle_pun. Jamie organized the #countdownpuzzleexhange with a few puzzlers that were interested in doing a fun puzzle exchange. We each picked a surprise puzzle, wrapped the box, and separated the 1000-piece puzzle into 31 sections to complete throughout December. It was a fun activity to do a mini puzzle section each day of the month! Here is a great guide on how to organize a countdown puzzle exchange with a friend or group of friends.
1. Reach out to a friend or a group of people (such as Instagram or TikTok) and collect a group of folks interested in participating in a puzzle exchange
You will want an even amount of people (people will be in pairs). You might want to consider international participation as well, just make sure you have enough people if there is interest from other countries such as Canada. Include a deadline on when to sign up and when the exchange will begin.
2. Create your puzzle group or message a friend participating
I suggest creating a message group on Instagram or an app like Telegram. Once you create your group, you can randomly assign pairs based on their country. Connect with your puzzle pair and get to know their puzzle likes and dislikes!
Make sure to define when the exchange starts and when the puzzle assembling will begin. On average, it will likely take two months. One month to communicate with your exchange partner, order the puzzle, complete the puzzle, divide it up, and ship the puzzle. Make sure to ship your puzzle prior to the date you start the puzzle along. Example: if you are planning a puzzle along to begin May 1st, you will want all puzzlers to sign up by April 1st. If your friend or puzzle pal is local, it can also be an in-person puzzle exchange!
3. Choose a puzzle and order the puzzle
Make sure to pick a puzzle that you think your exchange partner will enjoy. The rules are simple: it must be 1000-pieces and it can be any puzzle brand. You can also decide on a price point (we did a max of $25).
For the challenge that happened in December, I picked, ‘A Happy Holiday’ by eeBoo for my puzzle pal and they picked ‘Food for Thought’ by Piecework for me. I recommend finding a puzzle image with lots of variety and not a gradient or solid-color sections, it’s not meant to be challenging by any means.
It might also be good to check to see what puzzles they currently have in their puzzle collection in case they might already have a puzzle you have in mind.
4. Divide the puzzle! Carefully separate the puzzle into 30 or 31 sections
Each section will represent one day in the month. It can be divided randomly, in a grid, or in any way you might prefer. Be sure to number the sections and keep track of the order of how you want them separated. I recommend dividing a puzzle on a large puzzle board or flat surface, so no pieces go missing.
Check out the Karen Puzzles YouTube video on “Doing a Puzzle Advent Calendar Style video” for more inspiration. Karen’s was holiday-themed, but there doesn’t have to be a theme pertaining to a specific holiday. Communicate with your partner to get some ideas for the types of puzzles they like—think do they like landscapes, illustrations, collages, or what types of puzzle designs they prefer.
5. Package and wrap the puzzle
Get creative! Get some bags or boxes for each of the puzzle sections. Each bag or box should be labeled into numbered sections that correspond with the day of the month. I suggest keeping it a surprise and covering the puzzle box with craft paper or wrapping paper! You will want to package it all carefully and make sure there is plenty of packaging or bubble wrap, so the puzzle stays intact.
6. Wait for your puzzle to arrive
This is a great time to set aside a space for daily puzzling, I suggest having an extra puzzle board or foam core board to complete your surprise puzzle day by day.
7. Start the countdown at the beginning of the month
Start the puzzle in the order of the bags/boxes as provided by your puzzle partner. Complete one section each day of the month—it’s like doing a mini puzzle each day. Set aside 10-15 minutes each day for your daily puzzling.
8. Post a section each day to your Instagram stories
As you complete a section each day, post your progress in your Instagram stories, and be sure to take your puzzle partner and the exchange organizer! Use the hashtag #countdownpuzzleexchange with your story post.
9. Post the finished puzzle
Share your completed puzzle after the month is over in an Instagram post/reel/story or share on TikTok. The puzzle exchange is a lot of fun- I have made many puzzle friends because of it! The puzzle exchange is also great for people that don’t have time to complete a 1000-piece puzzle- this way it is spread out over a month, and you puzzle a small amount every day.
10. Reflect on the experience
Take some time to reflect on the experience and how it felt to work on the puzzle each day. Share your thoughts with your puzzle partner/group and think about if you plan to do it again sometime!
Get to know the Author: Krystal Cotriss
Krystal Cotriss (Carpintieri) is an award-winning Graphic+Web Designer, typography enthusiast, puzzle addict, and penguin lover! When she’s not puzzling, she loves listening to house music, collecting Target birds & Squishables, and exploring & going on nature walks with her husband, James. You can find her puzzling on Instagram at @krystalcotriss.