Puzzle Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts When Sharing a Puzzle

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Jigsaw puzzles have long been a source of relaxation, challenge, and camaraderie among enthusiasts. When shared among a group, these puzzles take on a communal dimension, with each person bringing their unique perspective to solve the overarching picture. However, this shared endeavor also brings a set of unspoken rules, often termed ‘puzzle etiquette.’ Let’s dive into the do’s and don’ts of these shared puzzle experiences.

Understanding the Puzzle Community

The world of jigsaw puzzles is vast and varied. From novices attempting their first 500-piece puzzle to experts who compete in puzzle competitions, there’s a broad spectrum of puzzlers out there. Just as a piece of cardboard can hold intricate designs waiting to be pieced together, so can the community be diverse in its makeup.

When engaging in group puzzle activities, it’s essential to understand the joy of fitting that last puzzle piece or completing a challenging section. This joy is magnified when it’s a shared experience. Hence, being mindful of others becomes paramount.

The Do’s of Puzzle Etiquette

Let’s look at the do’s of puzzling etiquette to get started. 

Respect Boundaries

Imagine you’ve nearly completed the sky section of the puzzle, and someone swoops in to place the final piece. A tad annoying, right? Always ask before moving or adjusting pieces that someone else is engrossed in. Give them the space and freedom to complete their section as you’d like in return.

Share the Puzzle

If you’ve ever tackled a puzzle, you know the importance of the box image. Ensure that everyone has a clear view of it. Furthermore, make sure all participants have equal access to the puzzle pieces. Puzzle sorting trays may be helpful for this. Rotating positions or moving the puzzle on a flat surface can provide a fresh perspective to all involved. If you’re working on a particularly large puzzle, consider using a puzzle mat, allowing easy rotation and maneuvering.


Communication is crucial. Let them know if you come across a piece you believe someone might be searching for. Openly discussing strategies can lead to quicker and more efficient problem-solving. And it’s always a joy when two minds come together to place that elusive edge piece.

Keep a Clean Workspace

A clean workspace is not just about aesthetics. It’s about ensuring the longevity of the puzzle. Always ensure your hands are clean to avoid leaving marks on the pieces. Keeping food and drinks away from the puzzle area is also wise. For the sake of organization, consider using sorting trays to categorize pieces by color, edge pieces, and patterns.

Handle with Care

Each puzzle piece is precious. Avoid bending them or forcing them into spots they don’t belong. When you need to pause or shift your puzzle, ensure you store it safely, preferably on a flat surface or a protective piece of cardboard.

The Don’ts of Puzzle Etiquette

Now that we’ve covered the do’s of puzzle etiquette, we’ll dive into the don’ts. 

Avoid Being Overbearing

Everyone wants a moment of glory with their puzzle piece. Refrain from dominating the entire puzzle or being someone who always knows better. Let everyone have their moments of insight and discovery.

Don’t Hide Pieces

It might sound trivial, but keeping a crucial piece to yourself for the satisfaction of placing the final piece is a no-no. The spirit of jigsaw puzzles is collaboration, not competition (unless you’re in one of those puzzle competitions!).

Avoid Negative Comments

Constructive criticism is one thing, but avoid disparaging comments about others’ abilities, strategies, or even the design or complexity of the puzzle. Remember, it’s all in good fun!

Don’t Force Pieces

This can’t be stressed enough: never force a puzzle piece into a spot. Not only does it risk damaging the piece, it can also throw off the entire puzzle section.

Avoid Distractions

While friendly chatter is welcome, loud and unrelated conversations can be distracting. Especially in intense puzzle sessions, it’s essential to maintain focus and allow others to do the same.

Digital and Online Puzzling Etiquette

The digital realm has expanded the boundaries of traditional jigsaw puzzles. With online platforms and apps, puzzlers worldwide can collaborate or compete, adding a global dimension to the experience. As we navigate this new landscape, it’s crucial to maintain the same spirit of respect and camaraderie, albeit with a few modern twists.

Understand the Platform-Specific Rules

Each digital puzzle platform may have its distinct set of guidelines. Before diving in, spend a few moments familiarizing yourself with these rules. This ensures a smooth experience for both you and your fellow puzzlers.

Transparent Communication is Key

Given the virtual nature of online puzzles, clear communication becomes even more critical. If you’re working on a particular section of the puzzle or you’ve identified a strategy that might help, share it with your teammates. On the flip side, if you’re stuck or need assistance, don’t hesitate to ask.

Spoilers are a Big No-No

In the digital world, the temptation to give away solutions or hints can be overwhelming, especially with resources just a click away. However, avoid spoiling the fun for others. Always ensure you have the consent of your fellow puzzlers before sharing any insights that might affect the outcome.

Be Mindful of Online Etiquette

Online interactions lack the nuances of face-to-face communication. Hence, always be polite, avoid using all caps (it’s akin to shouting), and avoid any comments that might be interpreted as rude or dismissive. Remember, behind every screen is a person looking to enjoy the puzzle just as much as you are.

Embrace Technological Aids, but Don’t Over-Depend

Many digital puzzle platforms offer tools or aids, like hints, zoom features, or piece rotations. While utilizing these features perfectly fine, try not to over-rely on them. The essence of puzzling lies in the challenge, and using too many aids might diminish the satisfaction of completion.

In conclusion, puzzle etiquette is about understanding, respect, and collaboration. Remember, the final picture results from every puzzle piece coming together in harmony. So next time you spread out those pieces on a flat surface or roll out that puzzle mat, take a moment to appreciate the shared experience and play fair!

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