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If you’re stuck inside and starting to go stir crazy, picking up a game or puzzle is a great way to engage your mind while having fun. Some can help you find or maintain a creative outlet, while others encourage you to find a new way to think about problem solving. At the very least, these games and puzzles serve as a good distraction to take your mind off of work or any of the other stress-inducing problems we deal with on the daily. Swapping your phone or tablet for a physical activity also lets you unplug for a little bit, while helping to reduce eye strain.
Whether you’re trying to kill boredom, reduce your daily screen time, or learn something new, we’ve got you covered.
The 10 puzzles and games include classics like Sudoku and I Spy along with new ones like Bananagrams. Most can be enjoyed on your own, but we made sure to pick a couple that let you share the fun with others too.
1. A Set Of Adult Coloring Books
Adult coloring books have become very popular over the past couple of years, and for good reason. According to psychiatrist Scott M. Bea, coloring can help relax the brain and take out attention away from ourselves in a low-stakes environment.
This set of three books is themed after animals, geometric shapes, and scenery, so you’re not stuck coloring similar pictures over and over. The three books have a combined total of over 120 pages, and you can sign up to receive a digital picture to color in every week for a year.
2. A Magnetic Chess Board
The modern version of chess has been around for hundreds of years, and continues to be very popular all over the world. This chess board features handcrafted pieces with a velvet bottom to prevent scratches.
This set is a nice upgrade from classic chess sets: the base of the board is magnetic, to keep pieces from falling over if it moves. When the game is over, the pieces fit neatly inside the board, which folds over and securely closes with a latch, tucking away easily into a drawer or on a shelf.
3. Bananagrams WildTiles
Bananagrams is a modern, slightly manic take on Scrabble that tests your vocabulary and ability to think on your feet.
Each player selects 21 tiles face down, then flips them over at the same time to reveal letters. The object of the game is to construct as many words as possible — each one must connect to one another — and drawing more tiles from a pool in the middle.
The first person to use all of their tiles once the communal pile is done wins. This “Wild Tiles” edition features six “Monkey” tiles, which can be used in place of any letter.
Unlike Scrabble, Bananagrams is played without a board, and all the tiles are kept in a banana-shaped pouch, so it’s easier to set up and clean up. It makes it easy to take this game with you on the go too, and it’s easy to store without taking up a lot of room.
4. A Set Of Wire Brain Teasers
If you’re a more tactile learner, you’ll have a lot of tun with this set of 16 wire metal puzzles. They look deceptively easy, but each puzzle contains a pair of objects that are linked together.
You won’t be able to separate them using brute force, you’ll have to find the precise method to solve each puzzle instead.
5. An I Spy Book
I Spy books are a two-in-one puzzle that test your visual comprehension and problem solving ability.
Each page contains a scene filled with a bunch of different objects, along with a series of riddles that begin with “I Spy.” The goal is to solve the riddle, then find the object it’s referring to in the scene.
It sounds easy, but there’s a reason why I Spy books have been printed on a regular basis since 1956. This Extreme Challenger Edition says its for kids aged six to 10, though we’ve founded that some of its pages have stumped a few adults as well.
This is another low-stakes activity that provides both visual and mental stimulation without staring at your phone.
6. A Central Perk LEGO Set
LEGO’s snap-together bricks allow you to quickly construct custom versions of buildings, vehicles, and more. You can get an assorted box of bricks and let your creativity soar, but I can understand if you’d rather focus on putting together a pre-designed set with an instruction manual.
The one I’m recommending lets you recreate the iconic Central Perk coffeehouse from Friends — including the infamous couch and chairs. It contains 1,070 pieces, including LEGO versions of Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Monica, Joey, Phoebe, and Gunther, along with appropriate accessories for each.
The set is 15 x 10.3 x 3.7 inches once it’s completed, which is small enough to proudly display on a shelf once you’re done.
Are you a fan of Friends? See more of our favorite Friends merch and gift ideas here.
7. A Deluxe, Rotating Version of Scrabble
If you’re looking for a game that combines the thoughtfulness of chess with the linguistic focus of Bananagrams, your best choice is Scrabble.
A refresher on how to play: Each player picks seven tiles with different letters on them; each letter has a different point value, and the object is to play words with the greatest number of points possible. Each word must be built off of one that’s already been played, and players draw from a bag of communal tiles as they play words.
The person with the highest amount of points once all the tiles are drawn and one player plays all their tiles is the winner.
This “deluxe” version of Scrabble has beautiful mahogany-finished tiles, a hard cover scoreboard, and a rotating board, which makes it easier to play with multiple people. It’s designed to be played with up to four people ages eight and up. This deluxe edition is sure to impress your guests at game night, and makes a great gift too.
8. A Wooden Sudoku Board Game With Movable Tiles
If you prefer puzzles with numbers instead of letters, your best bet is Sudoku. The object is to fill a 9 x 9 grid with the numbers one through nine. The catch is that each vertical and horizontal line is played individually, and numbers can’t repeat. Not only that, but the board is broken up into nine squares with nine tiles each, and each square has to contain the numbers one through nine.
Most Sudoku games are played with a pencil and paper, which can get frustrating as you update the game to try new combinations of numbers. This set is full of wooden tiles, which you can easily move around as you solve the puzzle. The tiles are even double-sided, so you don’t need to keep track of which side is facing up.
The board comes with a booklet containing 100 Sudoku puzzles, but you can get books with additional ones once you’ve solved those.
9. A Rubik’s Cube
The Rubik’s Cube is a puzzle that seems easy at first, but gets difficult fast. Ironically, it’s the only puzzle on this list that starts out solved: every square on each of the cube’s six sides is the same color.
By twisting the cube horizontally and vertically, the colors jumble, and it’s your job to get them back to their original state. Winning Moves, the company who makes this Rubik’s Cube, says there are 43 quadrillion possible moves, which makes this puzzle nearly infinitely re-playable.
10. A David Bowie Themed Puzzle
The 500-piece puzzle showcases a scene filled with Bowie’s different characters, lyrics, and other references to the late artist’s work. The Where’s Waldoaspect of this puzzle isn’t necessarily to find Bowie — he’s everywhere — it’s to pick out as many references to his music as you can.
Some, like the Spiders from Mars, are easier to identify than others, but this fact finding mission may encourage you to continue putting the puzzle together. The puzzle is 11.5 x 1.9 x 8.5 inches when it’s completed, and I recommend you use puzzle glue and a frame to proudly display your work.