Many of you may have received a puzzle piece in the mail last month. October 9th was my dad's 60th birthday so I had to do something BIG! Thanks to my friend Bri, who saw the idea on another blog and did something similar for her boyfriend's birthday, I got this idea!

Purchase a Puzzle
    I purchased my puzzle from Portrait Puzzles because I was able to get the best price for the size puzzle pieces I needed. I wanted each puzzle piece to be large enough for people to write more than just "Happy Birthday! Love, So-and-So" on! The quality was great, shipping was fast, and I upgraded to the metal tin because that's something my dad would appreciate.. if you know him, you get it. See below for a special coupon code for Portrait Puzzles!

STEP 2: Create Your "How To" Sheet
    I basically copied the formatting from Bri [thanks, girl], and just changed the wording a bit! Not great at formatting and 'graphic design'? I kind of have a business where I get paid to do that, I have reasonable fees, and I'd love to help! *end shameless plug*
    I recommend not printing the "How To" sheets until you're 100% sure on all instructions. I decided last minute to put a piece of cardboard in each envelope to help protect the puzzle pieces from getting bent in the mail so I used a label sheet and placed a sticker at the bottom of each instruction sheet saying, "Leave the cardboard in the envelope to protect the puzzle piece" ..miraculously I still had people not follow that direction.. and I also placed a sticker in each envelope to seal his envelope with so I ended up hand writing on the back of each sticker, "Use me to seal the envelope!" Both of those items could have fit on the "How To" sheet if I'd just waited to print them!

Step 3:
Buy Envelopes and Stamps
    This is another step I recommend waiting on! The puzzle information said that the piece sizes were approximately 3.5"x3.5" each, so while waiting on the puzzle to arrive I went to my local office supply store to get a head start on addressing and stamping the envelopes. I knew I'd need a larger envelope to fit everything in [the "How To" sheet, the pre-addressed/pre-stamped envelope, the sticker seal, the puzzle piece, and the smaller envelope with the cardboard inside] plus the smaller envelope to hold the cardboard and puzzle piece in. I purchased the "Invitation" and "Photo" envelopes, approx. 4.5"x5.75" and 4.75"x6.5" respectively. I started stamping and return-addressing away until..
    When the puzzle arrived I quickly realized that about 8 of the pieces were too big/awkward to fit in the smaller envelopes. Luckily, the cardboard cutting took so much of my time that I hadn't even gotten to addressing the envelopes so it was an easy fix - for those 8 pieces I used the larger, photo, envelopes as the "small" envelops then went and purchased "Greeting Card" envelopes as the larger, outer, envelopes! Major crisis averted!
    Why wait to purchase stamps? With the "weight" of the puzzle piece and protective cardboard, one stamp wasn't enough - wait until you have a puzzle piece, package one envelope up and take it to your local USPS to find out the exact amount of postage you need! Remember - you'll need the same amount for both the outer and inner envelopes [the "How To" sheet isn't going to remove that much weight!]

Step 4: Stuff Away!
    By far the longest process if you're a perfectionist. I wanted to ensure everyone had a significant piece of the puzzle; I got my face, my sister got the piece with hers on it, my mom's family got pieces of her and my dad's family got pieces of him and so on.. I know, I'm weird. Ps. Sorry if you're just now realizing where you fell in that priority list!
    An "assembly line" set up works best for this to make sure each envelope gets everything it needs!

Step 5: Mail!

    I sent these out about a week and a half before I wanted them to start mailing them back. In all reality, it doesn't matter if they don't all come before the actual birth-date [or anniversary date] just as long as they start coming before then!

So, If My Dad Had Facebook..

    If my dad had Facebook, he would use it to post a status saying how grateful he was for all of the time and effort each and every single one of his friends and family members put into his birthday gift. Almost everyone went above and beyond just writing, "Happy Birthday! You're OLD!" and you all blew him away with your kind words. His status might say something like the text he sent me:
"Thank you very much for the puzzle. It was a very wonderful gift. The entire process was well thought out and nicely done. I was deeply touched by all of the effort and love that went into this birthday present."
    I'm sure on my dad's Facebook "wall" he'd have a "Joke of the Day," his thoughts on Ebola from a doctor's standpoint, countless "Happy Birthday" messages on October 9th, I'd hope he'd have plenty of "Thanks for all you do" notes, I know he'd have a million and one photos of his beloved dogs [seriously, who could blame him? Have you seen how cute they are?!], and this week, he would have posted a picture in remembrance of his father who passed away a year ago; the man who influenced my dad to be the amazing man he is.
    Now for a video of dad opening his favorite puzzle piece [sorry to my mom, sister, and myself, but this piece took us out of the competition.. not that there was one]! Disclaimer: My dad will have my head for putting this up because he'd already taken his dress shirt off and only has an undershirt on. Oops, sorry dad! But I had to post it to show how much he truly loved his gift! The heart-felt words you all sent were so wonderful! Also, you will want to cry in the middle but you will die laughing at the end.. maybe a puzzle wasn't the best gift?!
    Thanks again to everyone who participated and made this the best birthday present ever! Thanks to the original blogger who gave Bri the idea so I could copy, and thanks to Portrait Puzzles for the amazing puzzle! Want a puzzle of your own? Portrait Puzzles has graciously offered a $2.00 off promo code to my readers! Use code pporder06 at checkout!
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