To puzzle swap or not to swap?

Today we want to share our in-depth review and experience with the Completing the Puzzle subscription. For the avid to the occasional puzzler, Completing the Puzzle is a refreshing change that revolutionizes how puzzles have been shared and rented sustainably.

Plus, they make it easy and fun. Getting new puzzles in the mail is a surprising rush.

Ryan and I have always loved a good puzzle, and after researching the fascinating science behind them, we’ve been hooked all over again. (More on that below!)

For us, Completing the Puzzle was an obvious choice because we prefer to rent puzzles instead of storing them and love the shared and green aspect of it all.

Here’s our experience after puzzling with Completing the Puzzle these past few months.

Completing the Puzzle Review_Ryan and Alex Duo Life

Completing the Puzzle Review: Is It Worth It?

You can already tell from our intro that we’ve enjoyed Completing the Puzzle. But is the subscription worth it compared to other options? Whether buying or thrifting your own versus another service? How are the quality and cleanliness of the puzzles?

So far, we’ve done five puzzles from Completing the Puzzle and will answer these questions and more. (Plus, share our 25% off discount code!)

But, yes, it’s been an entertaining experience and completely worth it for us. We’re not kidding that each box we receive feels like Christmas, and we give it a 10/10 for sustainability, puzzle quality, and added quality time together.

We chose a Completing the Puzzle subscription because it’s like a library or Rent the Runway for puzzles, except you wouldn’t even know that the puzzles are used.

The images are fun, all of the pieces are there, and it feels good to know that the puzzle will be cleaned and go onto the next puzzler after us, sustainably.

Plus, of course, it saves a lot of money, time, and closet space. Win, win, win all around!

First Impressions of Completing the Puzzle

In a few words, our first impression of Completing the Puzzle was: clean, exciting, easy, revolutionary, and refreshing.

Not what you were expecting?

Well, this is what usually happens with a puzzle in my family: they go into the basement closet and sit there untouched for years.

My parents are actually moving this week from my childhood home. Twenty-nine years there! During the packing process, they uncovered a basement toy closet that not only had old beanie babies, a Barbie dream house, and evidence of mouse poop but dozens of dusty, untouched puzzles. (I think the mouse chewed through a few of those, too.)

That’s the reality of puzzles. They’re purchased for, let’s say $40 each, done a few times, and then stored for decades with the hope of one day doing them again… but the truth is, they rarely are because they’ve lost their luster and excitement.

When we received the below massive 4 Puzzle Plan box of puzzles earlier this month, it was a completely new experience.

Completing the Puzzle Experience Unboxing and First Impressions

I felt like I was looking at a whole month of date nights together.

The designs were fun and unique, and it only drummed up further excitement to get started. Plus, an unexpected bonus was that all four puzzles were from different brands. We soon became obsessed with the matte, velvety finish of “Sweet Dreams” from the 100% recycled-material brand, Pezel.

We had never done a puzzle like that before! We had also never attempted a puzzle lift together, which was another exciting success.

Completing the Puzzle Review Ryan and Alex Puzzle Lift

What are the Benefits of Doing Puzzles?

There’s quite a bit of science and psychology backing up the health benefits of puzzling.

For us, we use puzzling to get more quality time together and unwind at night. But puzzles’ biggest claim to fame, according to the studies we read, is probably enhancing visuospatial cognitive abilities.

In other words, visuospatial awareness is how you see the things around you (visually) and where you place them (spatially). Not only does this help with depth and distance perception, but keeps track of how images may relate to others.

And this is no small thing. It’s not just about parallel parking a car or catching a baseball, but being able to imagine objects in your mind and rotating or manipulating them without actually having to do it in real life.

For younger children or older adults (particularly those at risk for Alzheimer’s), strengthening their visuospatial cognition takes on even greater importance as it helps with facial recognition, remembering where objects are located, not getting lost, and can even help with reading.

When speaking specifically about children, studies show that they can truly benefit and grasp the concept of puzzles starting around age 4, which is why many schools globally have begun incorporating puzzles into their teaching methods.

Our 2-year-old got involved with our puzzles too, despite being under this age threshold. Together we looked at the laminated photo of the completed puzzle and matched it with puzzle pieces. So it was truly a family affair.

Completing the Puzzle Review_Science Behind Puzzling

I could go on and on, but puzzling has become our nightly hobby of choice when we’re ready to wind down but still have fun together without turning to the TV. Okay, to be honest, one night we enjoyed a date night movie in the background while puzzling. 

Our Completing the Puzzle Review and Experience

Convinced you need more puzzles in your life? Completing the Puzzle is a home run for both amateurs like us to serious puzzlers.

As mentioned briefly before, we were exposed to five different puzzle brands and found new favorites (me with Pezel, and Ryan with Eeboo). Plus, the excitement of not knowing which puzzles you’ll get in the mail was pretty fun. Every puzzle was gorgeous.

As a couple who hadn’t done many puzzles recently, we started with the monthly unlimited puzzle subscription… and then we quickly upgraded to the 4 Puzzle Plan the very next month. Here’s what’s included in both.

Unlimited Plan (One Puzzle at a Time)

First, we chose an unlimited puzzle subscription, which you can pay monthly ($30/month) or every 3 or 6 months for slight discounts ($29 and $28/month, respectively). Included in this are:

  • You’ll receive one puzzle at a time, with a prepaid return shipping label (the puzzle can be returned in the bag it came in.)
  • A QR code to look at your puzzle digitally as well.
  • When finished with the puzzle, mail it back and a new puzzle will be sent the next business day (excluding Sundays) after it’s received.
  • You can get an unlimited amount of puzzles that month, so keep on going!
  • Your choice of 200-300 piece, 500-750 piece, or 1000+ piece puzzles

Here’s what we got, arriving in a nice reusable bag for returns: “Crystals and Gemstones” by Peter Pauper Press, 1000 pieces ($18 value)

Completing the Puzzle Experience_Unlimited Puzzle Subscription

Plus, with the monthly plan, you can choose your design preferences (ultimately your exact puzzle design will be a surprise, but you can choose between categories such as fine arts, destination, landscape, animals, and so on).

The 4 Puzzle Plan

In the 4 Puzzle Plan, you receive everything above and:

  • Two 500-piece puzzles
  • Two 1000-piece puzzles
  • A very nice, reusable cloth box to return our puzzles in, with a pre-printed return label… and the next box can be sent to you before you return the old one!
  • Laminated printouts of what the completed puzzle looks like, plus a digital QR code to look at it on your phone. On the back of the printouts is some information on the puzzle design, artist, and brand. (This was a nice touch!)
  • A few fun stickers to keep for ourselves

This subscription starts at $44/month, and this is the one we upgraded to and highly recommend.

Here’s what we received in our last box:

The total puzzle value sent in our 4 Puzzle Plan box: $99. Here is what was included.

  • Four puzzles with laminated images of the completed puzzle
  • Padded shipping container and printed return label
  • Fun puzzling stickers and coasters
  • A very thoughtful thank you note from Alania, Brian, and their dog, Astro

We got all that (pictured below) for $44.

Completing the Puzzle Review What's Included In The 4 Puzzle Plan

Personally, I was obsessed with “Sweet Dreams” by Pezel, and looked at their website. To my surprise, the business owner was on summer holiday and she wouldn’t ship any puzzles for over two months! This made me appreciate Completing the Puzzle more, because you have unprecedented exposure to new brands and puzzles you can’t normally get, with lots now out of stock.

(Like the last puzzle, too, “Envelopes,” which doesn’t ship to the US as it’s an Australian-based brand. No idea how Completing the Puzzle got it!)

The 4 Puzzle Plan is a response to puzzler feedback that the wait time was too long between returning your old puzzle and receiving the new one, and solves it pretty well.

After reading Completing the Puzzle reviews on Reddit, a common Completing the Puzzle complaint is that people don’t want to wait in between puzzles. With the monthly plans, you send one back, and once they receive it at their Austin, TX location, a new puzzle is sent to you the next business day. So not on Sundays.

Well, impatient puzzle fanatics (just kidding, we’re one of you, too!) the 4 Puzzle Plan solves this.

According to their blog, the average puzzler will complete three puzzles a month, and this has been true with us, even while doing them as a couple. While with some motivation and focus we can knock out a simpler 500-piece puzzle in a few hours, we’ve had a more complicated 1000+ piece puzzle going on already for a week in our living room.

How Much Does Completing the Puzzle Cost?

No Completing the Puzzle review is complete without a breakdown of the cost. So, let’s dive into some numbers.

We highly recommend the 4 Puzzle Plan, which is when you receive 4 puzzles at a time. This way, you can pick your favorites and eliminate the wait time between having a new puzzle to be mailed back and forth to you. And, as always, you still have access to unlimited puzzles, but now, even before you mail back your box.

There are three prices, based on a monthly, 3-month, or 6-month subscription for the 4 Puzzle Plan BUT you get 25% off your first month with our discount code RAPUZZLES.

The following graph is a breakdown of our cost as 4-Puzzle Monthy Plan subscribers.

Completing the Puzzle Review 4 Puzzle Plan Value and Cost

Or, if you want to trial out the standard monthly plans first to get a grasp of how frequently you need a new puzzle, here are the monthly plans:

  • Unlimited Monthly Plan: $30
  • Endless 3-Month Plan: $29
  • Endless 6-Month Plan: $28

Again, you can take 25% off your first month with our code RAPUZZLES. Give it a try!

Pros and Cons of Completing the Puzzle Subscriptions

What resonated with us most about Completing the Puzzle is that it’s another husband-wife small business that sprung up from an idea on how to improve the puzzle game for all.

For them, it started as a puzzle date night, doing puzzles of the places they wanted to travel to after the pandemic and connecting over that.

Of course, we love that.

Another thing we personally like about Completing the Puzzle is that, sweetly and unexpectedly, their site showcases the many handwritten thank you notes they receive from thousands of customers.

You can read them here, and they’re all very touching, saying things like, “These puzzles are really helping me get through this difficult time! Thank you SO MUCH for this service!!”

Pretty cute, and I guess if you’re sending the puzzles back and they’re getting checked by folks each time, why not surprise their team with a note? We’ll do that next time, too!

Here are a few other aspects that we love.

Pros List:
  • Saves money on buying new puzzles, without needing to store them. Our $44/month 4 Puzzle Plan came with $99 worth of puzzles. Over the course of a year, we would have exposure to $1,200 worth of puzzles!
  • True to their green branding, you can sell your old puzzles to Completing the Puzzle for a $7 credit, up to 6 per customer
  • The puzzles are high quality from top puzzle brands. Nothing cheap.
  • Everything is cleaned and sanitized thoroughly between puzzlers (the business did spring up during COVID and all! We didn’t see any dust or hair in our past five puzzles!
  • The puzzles were like new to us, without any missing pieces
  • A+ for sustainability. Even their shipping bags are reusable and compostable.
  • Plus, a portion of every sale goes towards planting a new tree!
Cons List:
  • Unless you get the 4 Puzzle Plan (our recommendation), there’s a few days of wait time in between puzzles. For some with the puzzling bug, that might be too long.
  • You’ll be charged $5 if any pieces are returned missing, as the puzzle will be recycled. The good news, though, is if you find the missing piece, you can send it to them afterward.
  • At this time, with the 4 Puzzle Plan you can’t specify the style of designs you like, although at least for us, that’s part of the fun and surprise!

So, what do you think of Completing the Puzzle? Share your experience, feedback, or questions in the comments section.

Closing thoughts on Completing the PUzzle’s Subscription

Completing the Puzzle was a joy, and throughout the years of working on our site, we’ve tried lots of different subscription boxes.

For us, puzzling was a bit of a throwback but we wanted to try something relaxing and new. Knowing that a popular study out of Baylor University found that couples who played games together released more oxytocin (and the fact that I was taking it easy in my second trimester) we thought of trying our hand at nighly puzzles.

And we never looked back. For us, Completing the Puzzle was a big part of the enjoyment. They made it easy by having puzzles delivered to our door, but still sustainable, green, and minimalist.

Having the designs be a surprise has been more fun than if we had known them beforehand (in my opinion) and having multiple puzzles to tackle together has been a fun way for us to reconnect.

So, give it a go, and don’t forget to save 25% on your first month with code RAPUZZLES.

Have any questions? Comment below! We’re onto our sixth puzzle soon and are happy to share more about our experience.

Happy Puzzling!

For more resources for couples , such as our proven date night ideas or our 5 Ideas for a memorable movie date night at home, head over to our Date Night page.

Or, download our Proven Tools for Healthy Couples below.

At-Home Date Ideas Menu_Ryan and Alex Duo Life

Proven Tools for Healthy Couples

A decade of experience, hundreds of hours of research and testing, and over 50,000 words of wisdom condensed into one PDF.

Download our guide for the best books, movies, apps, date night ideas, quizzes, questions, and games for healthy couples.

As Seen In Feature Bar Ryan and Alex Duo Life

Hey we're Ryan and Alex

The creators of Ryan and Alex Duo Life. We are a husband-wife duo and “lifestyle engineers.”

After eight years working in the corporate world as engineers, we left our high-powered jobs to tackle our true passion — helping couples engineer their best lives.

The synergy of our engineering minds and ten years of health coaching experience produced Ryan and Alex Duo Life. Our mission is to help you transform your bodies, minds, and relationship as a couple.

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