Smart Ways to Organize Puzzles: Toy Organization Ideas

Jigsaw puzzles hold a special place in the world of games and learning.

They offer not only entertainment but also valuable developmental benefits for children as well.

Puzzles are a great way to promote collaboration and problem-solving skills in children and adults, alike.

But the problem with puzzles is that they are comprised of multiple pieces and parts and can quickly turn into a mess that’s hard to sort out.

If you find yourself surrounded by a pile of puzzles, fear not!

With a bit of organization and smart ideas, you can turn the chaos into order and ensure that every puzzle piece finds its place.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you organize your jigsaw puzzle collection.

Organizing Kids’ Puzzles

Let’s first talk about how to organize children’s puzzles since the shapes, size and packaging of kids’ puzzles is so different from puzzles meant for older kids and adults.

The differences means that the puzzle organizing and storage process looks a bit different as a result, and easier to sort out separately.

Sorting Kid’s Puzzles

First, gather all of your child’s puzzles from their scattered locations and lay them out in one central area.

This allows you to see the full extent of your collection and quickly identify any duplicates.  

This is a great task to involve your kids in since getting all the puzzles in one place will be a game in and of itself and can keep them happily entertained for a while.

Plus they’ll be simultaneously learning some life skills in how to manage belongings.  

Total win-win!

Decluttering Your Child’s Puzzle Collection

As you assess the puzzle collection, take note of any missing pieces or puzzle boxes in need of repair or replacement.

For puzzles with missing pieces, asses how crucial the missing pieces are to your child.  

Do they mind not having all of the pieces?  

Sometimes a missing piece or two is a deal breaker and sometimes it’s not, especially for favorite puzzles.

If it’s a dealbreaker, then set those puzzles aside to give away.

As you sort through the puzzles, ask which puzzles are they no longer interested in playing with.  

Again, pull those selections out of the pile and set aside to pass along to friends or donate.

Basically, keep your child involved in the process as you go through the puzzles, talking through which puzzles to keep and why.

Once you’ve sorted through the puzzles and pulled out any that you’re collectively ready to part with, it’s time to move onto the next step of the puzzle organizing process: storage.

Keep Pieces Together

The most important aspect of puzzle storage is to keep each puzzle’s pieces together.  

To prevent pieces from getting lost, store each puzzle with its original cardboard box.

But well loved puzzles often have really beat up puzzle storage boxes that don’t do a great job of keeping the pieces together.  

Clear packing tape is a great way to reinforce sagging box lids and bottoms and can help keep the box together long enough until your child outgrows the puzzle or otherwise loses interest.  

If the box is done for, that doesn’t signal that you should get rid of the puzzle.  

Because children’s puzzles come in so many different sizes, there are several ways to store them if the original container is no longer in shape to act as a functional container.

RIS USA 10 Pack Fits 8.5" x 11" Portable Project Storage Case with Snap-Tight Latch, Organize Board Games Puzzle Magazine Document Craft Paper Hobby Art Supplies, Clear 10 Count (Pack of 1)

Look to alternative storage options, like a plastic storage case like these stackable boxes from Iris.  

These boxes are a great puzzle storage solution since they’re see through, thin and snap securely closed.  

EOOUT 24pcs Mesh Zipper Pouch Bags, A4 Zipper Bags for Organizing Storage, Waterproof Zipper Pouches, Letter Size, File Bags for School, Toys, Puzzle, Board Games and Office Supplies

You can also use a zippered pouch to keep puzzle pieces together.

 Hefty Slider Jumbo Storage Bags, 2.5 Gallon Size, 12 Count

Don’t want to invest in a storage container for the puzzles? No problem. Head to your kitchen and grab some ziplock bags.

These 2.5 gallon zip top bags are great for storing large piece puzzles securely.

Brother P-Touch PT-D210 Label Maker Value Bundle Includes 4 Label Tapes, Easy-to-Use, Home and Office Organization, White

For puzzles stored in bags, add a label, whether handwritten or one made with a P-Touch labeler in addition to the puzzle just to make clear what’s what.

Scotch Heavy Duty Packaging Tape, 1.88" x 22.2 yd, Designed for Packing, Shipping and Mailing, Strong Seal on All Box Types, 1.5" Core, Clear, 6 Rolls with Dispenser (142-6)

No matter which alternative puzzle storage method you choose, cut the preview image out of the box lid and tape it onto the outside of the bag with clear packing tape so it’s easy to identify.  

Also cut out the large photo on the top of the puzzle box and place inside the bag or storage container.

And make sure to secure the bags or containers tightly to avoid spills or mix-ups.

How to manage puzzles without boxes?

Some children’s puzzles, especially peg puzzles and wooden puzzles designed for toddlers, don’t come in cardboard boxes designed fro storage at all, and so storing these puzzles creates quite the challenge.

Melissa & Doug Puzzle Storage Rack - Wire Rack Holds 12 Puzzles - Puzzle Rack Organizer, Puzzle Holder Rack For Kids

The best way to store these puzzles is to use a puzzle rack to take advantage of vertical space on a shelf.  

This method of storage is a great space-saving solution since the puzzles take up less horizontal room and the rack prevents the puzzles from spreading out.

Glad Press'n Seal Plastic Food Wrap - 70 Square Foot Roll

You can also use Glad Press ‘n Seal to create a reusable cover to keep all the pieces in place.  

Simply put all of the pieces in place, pull out a section of the press ‘n seal wrap, trim at the end of the puzzle base and press down.

Sealing the pieces in place like this means the puzzles won’t become a jumbled mess if jostled or lifted at an uneven angle and will keep your space tidier.

This also means that kids can’t flip the puzzle board and send pieces flying.  

Another parenting win-win!

Categorizing Your Child’s Puzzle Collection

Next, separate your puzzles into categories based on age appropriateness and complexity level.

For children’s puzzles, consider grouping them by age range or skill level.

Jigsaw puzzles can be sorted by the number of pieces or difficulty level. This will make it easier to choose the right puzzle for each child and ensure they are appropriately challenged.  

If you find that the puzzles never seem to stay together, this may be a sign that your child isn’t ready for the challenge of a puzzle with lots of pieces, so store those types of puzzles out of the way until they are.

Storing Children’s Puzzles

Especially for younger children, puzzles are best kept out of their reach so that you don’t end up with jigsaw pieces from the puzzle everywhere.

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For puzzles that you’ve transferred into zippered pouches or zip-top plastic storage bags, corral them all in a storage box or basket with straight sides.

Line up the puzzle bags on their end, with the puzzle photo facing forward so there’ll be no digging through the bin to find the desired puzzle. 

Once everything together, you can slide the basket into a cabinet or onto a shelf.

Storing the puzzles this way also condenses the amount of rom they take up and the basket hides some of the visual clutter.

puzzle boxes standing on their ends on a shelf in a closet

A practical way to store puzzles in their original box is to stand the puzzles on their sides and line them up like library books, instead of stacking the boxes on top of each other.

This storage method can help keep the puzzle box in better shape since there won’t be extra wight piled on top, potentially crushing the box.

This puzzle storage method also makes it really easy to grab out just the puzzle you’re ready to put together without affecting anything else in the space since it’ll slide out rather effortlessly.

Puzzles are also natural companions to be stored along with other board games and card games.

Organizing Puzzles for Adults and Older Kids

As for organizing puzzles designed for older kids and adults, the process looks largely the same as described above for putting a child’s puzzle collection in order.

First, collect all the puzzles in one place and pull out anything you know you no longer want.

Next, begin to sort through the puzzles in the keep pile into different categories.

First start by separating out the puzzles you’ve put completed before and puzzles that are still new in the box or haven’t yet been put together yet.

Set aside the brand new puzzles for now and turn your attention to the puzzles that you haven’t yet pieced together.

For the puzzles you’ve completed at least once, consider if you interested in doing the puzzle again.

Some puzzles have a great replay life, while others you may find that you’re satisfied completing one time and being done with it.

Any puzzle that you’re not interested in should be set aside into a pile to give away to puzzle-loving friends or donated.

Clearing out the puzzle games you’ll never play with again is a great way to make room for the puzzles you’re interested in completing and will minimize the storage space needed for your game collection.

The rest of the puzzle organizing process is the same as outlined for children’s puzzles, as outlined above.

What to do with puzzles that are missing pieces?

For any puzzle you want to donate, if you know there are missing pieces, consider donating them to a crafter.  

My son’s 3rd grade teacher used to make a craft using puzzle pieces, so see if there’s a similar need in your community.  

After all, getting to the end of a puzzle and realizing there are missing pieces is such a bummer, so help other puzzle lovers avoid that fate but donating the puzzle to a crafter who will repurpose it.

Displaying Completed Puzzles

If there’s a puzzle you especially loved putting together, you may wish to display it.  

YAKAMOZ Updated Jigsaw Puzzle Glue with New Sponge Head for Adults and Children Clear Water-Soluble Special Craft Puzzle Glue, Non-Toxic and Quick Dry for 1000/1500/3000 Pieces of Puzzle,120ML

Rather than keeping it out on a puzzle table, consider getting some glue specifically designed for puzzles to keep the pieces together.

Puzzle Presto! Peel & Stick Puzzle Saver: The Original and Still the Best Way to Preserve Your Finished Puzzle! - 6 Adhesive Sheets and 2 Adhesive Hangers

An alternative the puzzle glue is this sticky puzzle saver mat, big enough to handle 1,000 piece puzzles.

MCS Frame for Puzzles, Black, 20 x 27 in or smaller

And then framing the whole lot in a puzzle frame.  

A gorgeous puzzle displayed in a frame can make for unique home decor.

HXMARS Puzzle Storage Folder for 1000-Pieces: Large Capacity Jigsaw Puzzles Organizer Portable with 20 Pockets, Dustproof & Protective Puzzle Accessory

Another puzzle storage idea is this puzzle book!

This is a compact way to store up to 20 1000-piece puzzles.

Over to you!

Organizing your puzzle collection is a labor of love, rewarding your puzzle enthusiast self with a sense of accomplishment.

By following these steps to bring order and organization to your child’s or your own puzzle collection, you can transform the entire lot into a a pastime waiting to be enjoyed when you’re ready, as opposed to a frustrating jumbled mess. 

Happy puzzling!

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