Having three kids with an age range of 2-10 means we have large variety of games and puzzles in our house. From the most basic of wooden board puzzles to complicated hundred piece games like Risk or Monopoly.. we have a little something for everyone. And because of that, it is important to have a system to keep all the pieces in place and everything sorted. Plus I like to sell my board games and puzzles on consignment after my kids have outgrown them, and knowing you have ALL the pieces for a game is important.
With these five tips you will be much more likely to never lose a game piece or put it in the wrong place!
Once a game piece wasn't back in the original box, we may have well just thrown it away because chances of reuniting the piece with the original game was pretty slim.
But now I keep a little index card and a zip-top bag (or bags) inside the boxes with a list of what goes inside. Sort of a ‘check list’ for game pieces. That way when we are cleaning up we know exactly what is supposed to be in the bag and we are sure we have all the pieces.
If you have old games and you aren’t sure if anything is already missing, you can check on the game instructions since they almost always come with a list of contents. If you have lost a few cards or a game piece, you can note it on your index card so when you are putting stuff away you are sure you are putting back the right number every time.
Some games will require a lot of little bags, or sometimes items don’t fit in the bags, but I want to make sure they go back. Here is an example of a game where the spinner doesn’t fit in the bag, but it is included on the checklist.
Making sure everything gets back in the bag (and the box) after playing is the key to not losing the pieces. Plus the zip-top bag means the pieces won’t slip or fall out when the top of the box gets loose.. another time when game pieces tend to get lost. (And helps with the clean up!)
Tip 2: Store Wooden Puzzles Vertically and Keep Pieces in Place
In our game cabinet, horizontal space is at a premium, and sliding puzzles in and out tended to dislodge the pieces and create a huge mess. Luckily I discovered Glad Press’n Seal when visiting some thrift sales. I saw people were wrapping their board puzzles in this cool film wrap and it was securing their pieces perfectly. And because it releases easily it doesn’t damage the pieces:
The kids can take it off and on themselves, it is reusable and since it is food safe and BPA free, I’m not worried about them playing with it. Plus you can find it at WalMart which means I can pick it up on my regular shopping trips.
Tip 3: Store Card Games in Dollar Store Cheese ContainersIn our house the cardboard boxes that card games (or even playing cards) come in tend to get beat up and broken. It is hard for my kids to get all the cards back in the box. But American sliced cheese storage containers are the perfect size.
Plus as a bonus, the edges of the cards don’t get bent like if you stored them in a rubber band. Plus I make sure to keep the instructions inside the container as well… so we never forget how to play!
Tip 4: Don’t Lose Puzzle Pieces when you take a break!For the older kids, puzzles take a lot longer to complete than one sitting. Often they will get halfway through a puzzle and leave it on the dining room table. That is a recipe for DISASTER. Between siblings and pets, loose pieces sitting on a soon to be on the floor, kicked under the rug, and pretty much lost..
But after I discovered the board puzzle trick with Glad Press’n Seal, I realized it would work on other puzzles as well. You can seal down half finished puzzles, or even loose pieces, to the table and they aren’t going anywhere.
And just like the board puzzles, you can peel it off without damaging the cardboard puzzles: No more scattered puzzle pieces all over the floor!
Bonus Tip: If you want to move assembled puzzles from place to place or store them, using Glad Press’n Seal on a cookie sheet is a great solution. they won’t slide around and they will stay in place and assembled, even during transport!
Tip 5: Number The Backside of Puzzle Pieces for Easier SortingThis is a tip I learned from our local library. The librarian would have to sort and assemble dozens of board puzzles at the end of the day and knowing which pieces went where (especially when they were upside down) was a headache.
So they started numbering the backside of each piece so it was easy to figure out which pieces went together. Now you can easily find and sort the pieces.. yeah, you still have to put them back together, but I aways recruit my kids to help me.
Then we seal them up in Glad Press'n Seal!
Hopefully these five tips will give you some ideas on how to tackle your own Puzzle, Board and Card Game Chaos! So you can spend more time playing and less time lamenting the lost pieces!!