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Consider the following questions:
  1. Planning on getting gift cards for someone special this holiday season? *
  2. Would you like to challenge/annoy/entertain them as well?
  3. Do you like jigsaw puzzles?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I've got the perfect holiday project for you!  Give your gift recipient a little extra challenge and something fun to do during the cold winter months by transferring those gift card codes to the back of a puzzle. 

The concept is simple:
  1. Get a puzzle and put it together
  2. Flip over a few pieces and transcribe the code(s)
  3. Disassemble the puzzle, wrap it, and share the love!

*This concept will work with any gift card that can be redeemed by entering a code (ex: iTunes, Xbox marketplace, online retailers, etc.).

Step 1: Materials

You'll need the following items:

Jigsaw puzzle (the more pieces the better!)
  • Check your local thrift shops for cheap puzzles
  • Large puzzles with thousands of pieces will be more of a challenge for the recipient, but will also require a considerable time commitment on your part.
Gift Cards
  • Make sure the cards have a code that can be redeemed online
  • I like to buy several low value cards so I can put multiple codes in different places
  • This prevents the recipient from trying to collect all the pieces with letters/numbers on the back and forces them to complete more than just one section of the puzzle
Other
  • Magic marker(s)
  • Assistants - the more the merrier!  Recruit as much help as you can to help but the puzzle together for the first time

Step 2: Put It Together!

This step is pretty straightforward.  Just be careful not to lose any pieces!

If you're pinched for time, you could always just put together the specific areas of the puzzle where you will put the code(s).

Step 3: Writing the Codes

Here are a few tips on writing the codes:

I like writing individual letters on the back of each piece, but you could also make really big letters/numbers that go over multiple pieces.  Keep in mind, however, that making large numbers may provide the recipient with another way of piecing the puzzle together.

Skip a piece in between letters/numbers of the gift card codes.  This prevents the recipient from collecting all the pieces with writing on them and trying to only assemble those few pieces.  

Codes can be written horizontally, vertically, or even diagonally, just be sure to properly mark the beginning and end of the code for the recipient.

The best way to write the codes is to flip the entire puzzle, but that may be unpractical.

Instead, you can flip individual pieces and write on them - just be sure to orient your code so it's going the right direction.  For example, if turn a row of pieces upside down, be sure to write the code from right to left instead of left to right.  

I always start my codes with a number, star and/or arrow, just in case i get confused.

I also write random messages in different areas of the puzzle for fun and to maximize the percentage of pieces with writing on them.

Step 4: Disassembly and Presentation

Be careful when taking apart the puzzle!  You are at high risk of losing pieces during this time if you are hasty.  

I prefer the burrito method of disassembly - quickly pick up the puzzle on one end and start rolling it towards the other (see picture).  It may not be perfect, but you can easily slide the end off and crumble it into the box.

Now you're done!  Wrap up the puzzle and give it to the recipient!  If they like shaking boxes, you can put cotton stuffing in the box with the pieces to prevent them from making the well-known puzzle shaking sounds.

Have fun!

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