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Holiday Puzzles and Stocking Stuffers (2021)

Two years ago I posted a seasonal gift guide that featured some family-friendly non-puzzle games for the holidays. This year’s list is skewed more toward seasonal specials, puzzly stocking stuffers, and games that I thought would make for particularly nice gifts.

Greeting Cards

That’s right, we’ve got holiday cards this year! Each has a hand-drawn illustration with a puzzle or hidden message that solves to a secular holiday greeting. Comes in a set of 3 and features a lower difficulty level to engage your non-puzzling friends and family as well.

Recommended # of players: 1

Time: <5m per card

Scarlet Envelope’s greeting card is more of a mini-game, featuring four multi-layered puzzles. This card will make a great surprise for the puzzle-lovers in your life.

Recommended # of players: 1-2

Time: <45m

Image via Scarlet Envelope

Stocking Stuffers

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Society of Curiosities, and if you're looking for something more robust, their subscription boxes will make any immersive gaming enthusiast very happy. For something on the lighter side, however, The Fairy Tale Files are an excellent option. The Cinderella Murders and The Curious Case of the Poisoned Apples are the two games currently available in the series. Both are charming, family-friendly, and make for a great introduction to games in this genre. Plus, they come in an envelope, making them easy to ship or slip into a stocking!

Recommended # of players: 2

Time: ~1h

Great for: Quick play, fairy tale lovers, families

Image via Society of Curiosities

Hincks Gazette is a monthly puzzle newspaper that strikes a good balance of being approachable for beginners but not too easy for experienced puzzlers. Consistently humorous and full of thoughtful puzzles, it is an easy recommendation to make. Although Hincks Gazette is normally available as a subscription, Bluefish Games is offering card packs and boxed sets for the holidays. If your recipient really loves puzzles, Hincks Elevator and Stairs will also make a fantastic gift (and if you haven’t played them yet, you’d probably best pick up a copy for yourself as well.)

Recommended # of players: 1-2

Time: <1h per gazette

Great for: Quick play, puzzle lovers

Image via Bluefish Games

Enigmailed has several different flavors of these delicious treats on offer. Each bar contains a handful of bite-sized puzzles on the packaging, making it a great stocking stuffer for anyone who wants to chew on some puzzles while they succumb to their sweet tooth.

Recommended # of players: 1-2

Time: <20m per bar

Great for: Quick play, chocolate lovers

Image via Enigmailed

Other Games

iDventure offers three different Cluebox games, all made out of laser cut wood. Despite the mechanical puzzle look, these boxes actually require solving escape room style puzzles in order to open the box, rather than using trial and error or spatial logic. They make for an impressive-looking gift that can double as a display piece, and is also fully resettable—if you want to be super sneaky, you could even solve the box first and hide an extra surprise for the recipient on the inside.

Recommended # of players: 1-2

Time: <1h per box

Great for: Quick play, mechanism lovers, artifact lovers

Image via iDventure

Box ONE is a game that is easily approachable for non-puzzlers but packs an impressive number of surprises that will undoubtedly delight any seasoned player. Although there’s not a ton that can be said about the game without ruining the aforementioned surprises, you can rest assured the recipient of this gift will be a happy one.

Recommended # of players: 1

Time: [Redacted for spoilers]

Great for: All experience levels, solo gamers

Image via Theory11

Solve Our Shirts is essentially an escape game in the form of a T-shirt, making for a puzzly gift whose use will last far beyond the actual solving. Full of quality enigmas and clever surprises, I haven’t yet encountered a person who didn’t enjoy this game (plus look at those great color options!)

Recommended # of players: 2

Time: <90m

Great for: Puzzle lovers, T-shirt wearers

Image via Solve Our Shirts

Legend: A Game of Maps is a series of beautifully crafted tabletop puzzle games with realistically aged documents. Only the first two chapters are currently available, and I would recommend buying both as a set (as opposed to just the first chapter). Part 1 is definitely easier than the second, but the second is significantly more impressive in both the puzzles, artifacts, and scope.

Recommended # of players: 1-2 for part 1, up to 4 for part 2

Time: This will vary from group to group, but it’s not a short game

Great for: Experienced puzzlers, artifact lovers

If you’re looking for something a little more premium, Root of All Evil will make for a spooky and unique experience for that special someone. Featuring a handful of puzzles and many physical mysteries to uncover, this story-driven experience will excite anyone who loves handmade quality components and isn’t sensitive to a dark theme.

Recommended # of players: 1-2

Time: 2-3h

Great for: Narrative lovers, artifact lovers

Got any suggestions for other great holiday gifts in the puzzle genre? Put em in the comments!



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