A Little Yule Cheer, Day 15, 2021: Christmas Puzzles to Enhance Your Holiday Cheer

A few days ago, I mentioned doing puzzles can generate or enhance holiday cheer. My husband, Jay, and I enjoy working on puzzles together. We discovered our shared love of puzzling when the COVID quarantine first sequestered us at home. Our inaugural puzzle was a 1000 piece glow-in-the-dark version of Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night. It took us days and days to complete and still remains the hardest puzzle we’ve ever worked on. Somehow, that puzzle managed to hook us on puzzling.

I find working on puzzles to be both stimulating and restful – relaxation with a goal. It’s satisfying to see an image gradually appear, especially when the picture is one that brings me pleasure, either because of its beauty or design, or its theme. I’ve discovered focusing on a Christmas puzzle really does generate holly jolly feelings for me. After a long and stressful day at work, I look forward to unwinding with Jay this way. We make hot chocolate or London Fogs for sipping, put on Christmas music, and settle in to some companionable puzzling.

To tempt you into giving puzzling a try, I’m sharing some examples of Christmas puzzles I would love to try which are currently available. I tend to like very graphic designs (I love working on Charley Harper puzzles) and intense colors or very painterly images. Also, I usually prefer to work on 1000 piece puzzles because I like to settle into a puzzle. I also just enjoy the challenge of puzzles with more pieces. The suggestions below reflect these preferences.

Clicking on any of the images below will take you to a website, where you’re sure to find puzzles that appeal to your particular aesthetic. If 1000 piece puzzles feel too daunting, you can find puzzles in many different piece counts that may be more your speed. Finally, at the end of the post, I’ve listed numerous puzzle companies which I feel produce quality products that are a pleasure to assemble, as well as websites I frequent when I’m looking for a new puzzle.

1. Pit Stop by artist Susan Brabeau. Produced by SunsOut. 1000 pcs.
2. Ugly Xmas Sweaters. Produced by Cobble Hill. 1000 pcs.
3. Twas’ the Twilight Before Christmas by artist Charles Wysocki. Produced by Buffalo Games. 1000 pcs.
4. Angel and Dove by artist Lynn Bywaters. Produced by Springbok. 1000 pcs.
5. Stained Glass Holy Night by artist Randy Wollenmann. Produced by Vermont Christmas Company. 1000 pcs.
6. Holiday Books. Produced by Re-marks. 1000 pcs.
7. Christmas Carolers. Produced by White Mountain. 1000 pcs.
8. Santa’s Team by artist Greg Giordano. Produced by Piatnik. 1000 pcs.

I don’t want to scare anyone away with difficult puzzles and high piece counts. There are beautiful puzzles in lower piece counts, too. These are two of my favorites:

9. Christmas Memories. Produced by All Jigsaw Puzzles. 500 pcs. (This puzzle also comes in a 1000 pc. version).
10. Santa’s Best Friend. Produced by Eurographics. 300 pcs. (I WISH this puzzle was available in 1000 pcs.).

Favorite puzzle manufacturers:

Favorite websites for puzzles:

Aren’t you inspired to give puzzles a try? By the way, puzzles make great gifts, too!

A Little Yule Cheer, Day 13: The Fat Chewy, an M&M Cookie Recipe

The M Cookie

Toddlers have a knack for impacting a family’s unique vernacular. For instance, when my daughter was small, she called M&M candies Ms. Just Ms. And this is what my family continues to call them, even though we haven’t had a toddler living with us for almost two decades. Today, I’m bringing an M recipe to the party that is both delicious and versatile. It is officially called the Fat Chewy, but here at Whimsey Pie, we’re just going to call it The M Cookie.

The M Cookie is not specifically a Christmas cookie. It can be an anytime or any holiday cookie depending on the color of Ms you use. With red and green Ms, this cookie holds its own alongside gingerbread men and snickerdoodles in the Christmas cookie canon. The recipe is low effort and the pay off in flavor is huge. Paired with a glass of milk, M Cookies are the perfect snack for Santa. Or anyone else who loves cookies or Ms.

The Fat Chewy M Cookie

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk (extra-large eggs work well, too)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounce package of M&Ms Milk Chocolate Candies or 1 2/3 cup M&Ms (plus extra for the tops of the cookies)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I prefer mini-chips for this recipe)
  1. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 – 3 minutes.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat until completely incorporated.
  3. Whisk together flour, corn starch, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and stir until just combined.
  5. Fold in the Ms and the chocolate chips.
  6. Refrigerate the dough until firm (overnight is best).
  7. Preheat oven to 375o F.
  8. Scoop cookies and roll into balls. (I use a scoop that’s approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons).
  9. Place a few inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet or, even better, a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  10. Bake for 7 – 10 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
  11. While cookies are still warm, press a few extra Ms into the top of each one.
  12. Move to a cooling rack.

I think these cookies would be just as delicious made with other varieties of Ms such as caramel or mint or with Reese’s Pieces. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. One small word of warning: These cookies are rich. Bellyaches have been known to happen, so go slow. I know, I know. Easier said than done…

A Little Yule Cheer, Day 12: Before and After – Christmas Decorations

Just for fun, I thought I’d share before and after photos of some of our Christmas decorating efforts. We started decking the halls on a Saturday and finished up on the following Monday night when we trimmed the tree. We get a live tree, so it’s always the last part of the process.

Before: The living room was already in upheaval because we’ve been cozying up to the fireplace to watch Christmas movies. That’s why there’s a huge monitor on the coffee table and the chairs are awkwardly squeezed together.

After: This photo is not picture perfect (the book shelf door is open and the chairs and stool are still wonky). Even so, I think the transformation is very merry. The room feels cozy and festive – exactly the vibe we always aim for. Christmas has finally come to our house!