Celebrate Your Love For Puzzling on National Puzzle Day!

What Is National Puzzle Day?

 National puzzle day is a non-official holiday celebrated on the 29th January every year. On this day, people are encouraged to try out puzzles of all shapes, sizes, and degrees of difficulties! Puzzles can be anything from crosswords to jigsaws, Sudoku to Rubik’s Cubes. The idea is purely to have fun and enjoy the challenge of tackling a puzzle!

 The Benefits

Scientists are confident that participating in puzzles is beneficial to our health. In Science Daily, there is a report from the University of Exeter, published in 2019. The report states, ‘Older adults who regularly take part in word and number puzzles have sharper brains.’ The findings come from the largest online study to date. Certainly, other research lists benefits to be, improved memory, increased I.Q., and better problem-solving skills. In addition to this, participating in puzzles can decrease stress and lift your mood. So, what puzzles should you try?

Puzzle Ideas

Marmite Jigsaw 1000 PiecesA puzzle is any game, toy or problem that tests your knowledge, ingenuity, and patience! Puzzles come in all formats and many people have their favourites. Some puzzles tackle words, for example, crosswords, anagrams, riddles, and word searches. For those who enjoy numbers, mathematical problem solving and sudoku are popular. Tactile, mechanical puzzles have been around for centuries too. From Chinese puzzle boxes, to puzzle jugs, puzzle locks, to the more recent, (by comparison to some of these earlier varieties), jigsaw puzzles. Visual puzzles like dot-to dot or spot the difference can be great fun too! Modern video gaming has introduced a whole new world of puzzles to a different generation, for example, tile matching games, platform games and adventure games! In fact, the history of puzzles spans centuries! Let us look at it in more detail.

History of Puzzles

The earliest documented puzzles come from riddles found in Ancient Greece and Egypt. Greek mythology produced the Riddle of the Sphinx, whilst labyrinths proved intricate puzzles, one of the most famous being the Ancient Cretan Labyrinth. The earliest tactile puzzles include bottom-fill vessels first found in Cyprus 1000BC with decorated versions discovered in China around 900AD. In Rome, secret compartment rings dating to 200BC show the use of intricate levers and clasps. In addition to this, the Roman Trick Lock, is carbon date to 100-400 AD. Indeed, trick locks appear to have been extremely popular in Ancient Rome.

Puzzle jugs first appear around 1400s. The trick with these jugs is to drink the contents without spilling a drop. Sounds easy? Not so! The jugs contain a series of holes that leak if you drink normally. The trick is to find a tube that runs through the jug, cover the holes, then suck the fluid up, like a straw.

The origin of Chinese puzzle rings has a mysterious past. Some believe they first appear in Egypt, others, Arabia. History shows them being used as locks and as engagement rings, to be united on the wedding day. You might know them as those interlinked metal hoop puzzles found in many Christmas crackers!

Manufacturing of puzzles came with the Industrial Revolution and a rise in a wealthier middle class. Initially paper or wood versions of puzzles became popular. Sliding puzzles and dissection puzzles, for example. 1760, and the first jigsaw puzzles appear. Created from cut up maps and used to teach geography, jigsaw puzzles have since grown in popularity and remain loved by young and old.

The 1800s introduced puzzle boxes to the masses, often made from ivory, the boxes became associated with the mysterious Chinese culture, though many probably originated from Europe. Joining a mass demand for puzzles, magazine and newspaper editors added puzzles to their publications in the early 20th Century. Prizes increased readership too!

In the 1970’s the Rubik’s Cube took its place in the puzzle chronicles. The Rubik’s Cube created a mass frenzy of new puzzle fans across the globe! Whilst the peak of Rubik’s Cube popularity remains in the 1980s, it is still challenging individuals daily. The World record time for solving this puzzle is an amazing 3.47 seconds, by Du Yusheng, in 2018.

The rise of video gaming leads us onto a new era for puzzles. Tile matching games, for example Tetris, really took off in the late 1980s. Platform games and adventure games also often include puzzles as part of their format. There is certainly plenty of choice for all those that wish to celebrate National Puzzle Day!

29th January

So, be it a traditional crossword, a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle or a hidden objects video game, make sure you celebrate on 29th January. Enjoy the benefits, revel in the history and above all folks, have fun!!

Here at Sweet and Nostalgic we hope you have enjoyed reading about National Puzzle Day. We are passionate about celebrating nostalgia and have a wide range of gifts available on our website all celebrating the 20th Century. We are also thrilled to be in the top 50 blogs to read on Feedspot!






10 Surprising Health Benefits Of Doing Jigsaw Puzzles!

10 Health Benefits of Jigsaw Puzzles

Though youngsters may turn to electronic devices for gaming and puzzles, the popularity of jigsaw puzzling is on the rise. Many adults are finding them a great way to unwind and to challenge their brain in a new way. Even celebrities like, Sir Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman and Rory McIlroy find them stimulating! So here are 10 health benefits of jigsaw puzzles:

  1. Improved Memory


The science bit, solving puzzles strengthens the existing connections between our braincells. It also improves the generation of new connections. As a result, mental speed and though process improves. Jigsaw puzzles are particularly good at improving short term memory. Puzzlers must remember certain shapes and colours and where they fit into the puzzle. They need to visualize the finished piece to see how the pieces slot together.

  1. Better Visual-Spatial Reasoning

As mentioned above, when solving the jigsaw, we look at different pieces and figure out where they fit into the larger picture. This helps to improve our visual-spatial awareness. This is a skill we use regularly in everyday life, for example, driving a car, packing a box or suitcase, map reading etc.

  1. Improved Problem-Solving Skills

Puzzles require us to take different approaches to solving them. The end goal is to complete the puzzle, but there are many different paths we can take to do this. Fitting the correct pieces together can be a matter of trial and error. We learn the importance of formulating theories, testing them, and adapting when the plan does not come together. These skills can be transferred to the workplace, making us more adaptable and innovative employees.

  1. Increased Attention to Detail


Often, when completing a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces can look remarkably similar in colour or cut. Paying attention to the details, the subtle differences, help us solve the puzzle. An ability to pick up on the finer details is a great skill to have in our work life. Our quality of work can literally improve!

  1. Increase Your IQ

Dr. Susanne Jäggi, from the University of Michigan, led a team of researchers to investigate the benefits of puzzling. They found that spending just 25 minutes a day doing a puzzle, can increase your IQ levels by 4 points.

  1. Meditative Benefits


Completing a jigsaw can have a similar effect on you to meditation. It generates a sense of calm and peace, a form of mindfulness. By concentrating on the puzzle alone, our minds are cleared of other stresses and anxieties we may be facing.

  1. Increased Productivity

When we are stressed or agitated, we find it harder to concentrate. When concentration improves, productivity can soar! Taking time out from work or school to work on a jigsaw puzzle, is therefore a great way to reset the brain. Even a few minutes can help you feel refreshed and ready to tackle anything!

  1. Independence

Completing a jigsaw puzzle is a fantastic solo past-time, particularly if you live alone. It is easy to become absorbed into completing the puzzle, and the hours can whizz by! The satisfaction you feel as you slot that final piece of the puzzle in place, is second to none! What a great emotional buzz.

  1. Social Skills

Likewise, completing a puzzle with family, friends or work-colleagues is a great way to improve teamwork. Build collaboration through discussion and interaction. Researchers at Yale University found that solving puzzles at work improved relationships and the ability to co-operate together.

  1. It is Fun!

Every time we place a piece into the correct place, we get a release of Dopamine into our system. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood and optimism. Our brains move from a ‘Beta’ state (wakeful) to an ‘Alpha’ state (the same state we are in when dreaming) when puzzling. This lowers stress levels and improves our mood. Finally, what a great feeling, completing the challenge and seeing the puzzle in its full form!

So, after reading the 10 health benefits of Jigsaw Puzzles, what’s not to love? Start reaping the benefits of completing a jigsaw puzzle today! They are a complete work out for your brain, exercising both the left and right sides. They will improve your cognitive function, can delay the onset of Alzheimer and Dementia, and will certainly help you to chill out! We stock a lovely array of Gibsons Jigsaw puzzles here at Sweet and Nostalgic, so come and have a look and start puzzling!





An Informative Guide About Jigsaw Puzzles through the Decades!

Jigsaw Puzzles through the Decades – Gibsons Jigsaws

Gibson Jigsaws at Sweet and Nostalgic

Guess what, Jigsaw puzzles through the decades have developed, but their popularity remains! Jigsaw puzzles, a source of entertainment, education, frustration, joy and definitely of achievement (once they are completed, of course!). Many of us are first introduced to jigsaw puzzles when we are little. Who remembers the thick wooden shapes that, as infants, we carefully slotted into the right place, much to our parents’ delight? For some of us, the lure of completing that seemingly impossible task never leaves. Jigsaw puzzles for adults remains a popular pastime, despite this age of technology!

What’s the history of Jigsaw puzzles?

We can thank a London Cartographer, John Spilsbury, for creating jigsaw puzzles for commercial markets. In the 1760s he mounted maps onto hardwood, then cut them along the boundary lines. He created a puzzle useful for teaching geography. These puzzles were known as ‘Dissections’. The name ‘Jigsaw’ became associated with the puzzle around 1800, when fretsaws became the tool of choice for cutting the shapes. The name appears to be a misnomer therefore, as fretsaws are distinct from jigsaws! In the late 1800s the first cardboard jigsaw puzzles appeared. These were slow to replace wooden puzzles, as manufacturers feared they would be perceived to be of inferior quality. The profit margins on wooden jigsaws were larger too!

When did jigsaw puzzles become popular?

Jigsaw puzzles through the decades remained a source of amusement, but it was during the Great Depression when the popularity of jigsaw puzzles escalated. They provided a cheap, long-lasting, recyclable form of entertainment. The complexity of the Jigsaw puzzles flourished too, making them more appealing to adults. Companies saw value in jigsaw puzzles as marketing tools. Often they were Gibson Jigsaw Wall Ice Creamgiven away in product promotions and in advertising. Customers then completed the image of the product being promoted,for example, our new Walls’ Vintage Ice-cream Jigsaw puzzle made by Gibsons.

When did Gibsons start making jigsaw puzzles?

Gibsons Games were established in 1919. However it was 1986 before they first launched their jigsaw puzzle range! Gibsons Jigsaws quickly became very popular on the market. Gibsons rebranded in 2002 and their boxes changed. Their blue boxed puzzles, are the ones we are all familiar with today. By this time, they had over 250 titles in their Gibsons Jigsaw collection.

Here at Sweet and Nostalgic we sell a small range of Gibsons Jigsaws. In keeping with our ethos they depict nostalgic and sweet memories. We love the retro brands and of course Jigsaws through the decades. The puzzles have between 500 and 1000 pieces. Whilst you may think a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle is a challenge, spare a thought for the World record holders! The University of Economics, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam are the Guinness World Record holders. They put together a jigsaw puzzle depicting a lotus flower, with the most ever pieces. The puzzle consisted of 551,232 pieces, was just over 48ft x 76ft and was put together by 1600 students on 24th Sept 2011! Suddenly a 1000piece Jigsaw puzzle doesn’t seem so daunting, does it?!