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One of the pleasures of winter is long evenings indoors which encourage me to relax more and stop the endless rushing around of summer. I'll always have a jigsaw puzzle in progress throughout the winter months as something that I can do rather than just watch television. As Christmas approaches I like it even better if I can do a puzzle with a seasonal theme as it helps bring on the Christmas spirit. I saw the Gibsons Christmas Memories 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle in a local toy shop while out Christmas shopping and couldn't resist adding it to my shopping basket. It was just over £10 and can also be found on Amazon for a similar price.
I have completed several Gibsons puzzles in the past, including one other from their 'memories' range, which also includes things such as sweets and toys from specific decades. I knew therefore that it would be a quality puzzle to have and fun to do. These puzzles are made in Great Britain by the Gibsons family who established their company in 1919, so they have stood the test of time and survived amidst strong competition. The pieces are well constructed and thick so I have never had any problems with them bending out of shape. The cardboard is made from recycled materials. They are mostly of a standard two prongs and two holes shape and fit together securely. All of the pieces are slightly different so it is easy to tell if you have the right piece as the fit is extremely good when the correct match has been found. The picture is also firmly stuck to the background card and shows no signs of peeling.
The picture on my puzzle is a mass of bright colours. It takes me back to my childhood Christmas's in the 1970s and particularly reminds me of time spent at my grandparents house as many of the decorations depicted are things that my Nan used to fill her small front room with which we all piled into for the Christmas celebrations (we never went in there at all the rest of the year, so that makes these memories even stronger). It is therefore great for reminiscing and telling my children about how I celebrated Christmas as a child. The scene is a montage of all things Christmassy. There is a strand of bright pink, orange, blue and green paper chains; the type where you had a pack of paper strips and licked the gummed ends and interlocked them. There is a Father Christmas decoration where his body if formed from a concertina of red lattice paper that opens out into a lantern shape; I know Nan had these hung up on the ceiling. There's net stockings filled with goodies, posh orange and gold crackers and then the cheaper multi boxes just as I remember, although I never understood why Nan called these bonbons and the rest of us had crackers. Two front covers of the Christmas book for Boys and Girls are there - remember those? There's even a jigsaw puzzle within this one showing a fifties Christmas family scene and then baubles by the plenty, hooters, silver fir cones, Christmas cards with assorted scenes and not one but ten Father Christmas's in total, not to mention a couple of snow men. You get the picture; it is jam packed bursting with seasonal good cheer.
This wealth of detail is a positive thing for me. I like to do jigsaws where I can pick up a piece and identify where exactly it belongs within the whole picture. I am not a huge fan of endless sky or sea and aimlessly trying a whole pile of identical pieces to find the one that fits. With this puzzle it is generally quite easy to do this, although I am now left with a sea of red pieces to complete all of my Santas! It shouldn't be too hard to do these last pieces though as many have a slight variation, for instance a black dash to the white fur trim of a different skin tone that just shows on the edge of a piece. I have found this a very easy puzzle to do and started by looking for all of the pieces with bright turquoise or blue which were obviously the two annuals and then the paper chain colours, the orange crackers etc before then moving onto a more haphazard approach of picking up a handful of pieces and finding them a home.
The ease of completion is good as it allows a little to be done at a time amongst other festive activities, but it is certainly not a major challenge to complete and not a lengthy project, but then I don't want to be doing a Christmas puzzle into January anyway. It has great potential for children to dip into and help an adult with too, although it would be too big for a child to complete alone in a reasonable length of time. It would also make a good family project to have out over the festive period for family and friends to dip into.
The puzzle measures 27 x 19.25" which is about standard for a 1000 piece puzzle, and fits easily on my porta puzzle board. The box is also pretty standard at 16 x 11 x 2". This shows the completed puzzle picture giving you a guide to follow for easy completion. There is one section at the top where the title 'Christmas Memories' is written and this obscures a section of the puzzle so if you keep all of the unused pieces in the box like me you'll have to guess what goes in this section. A full picture is also shown smaller on the base of the box, along with some taster pictures of other puzzles in the 'memories' series. For further details of the extensive puzzles found within the Gibsons range a web address is given www.gibsonsgames.co.uk. They don't supply to individuals but can give a list of suppliers. The final thing on the box is a short history of Christmas and the celebrations that we now partake in, which is a nice touch to remind you of how the things in the puzzle such as stockings and Christmas cards and trees came about.
As these puzzles are placed back in their boxes along with the rest of the decorations in a few days time, I imagine that many of them will be finding their way to second hand sales, as personally I find that there is not much joy in repeating the same one twice over. I would definitely recommend looking out for this one second hand or in the sales and putting it away to enjoy next December.