|Note: The puzzle is sized for 11×17 but is solvable if printed on 8-1/2×11.|
This puzzle is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND-US.
Which brings me to one of my favorite puzzles, shown on the right. Click here or on the image to download a PDF.
The idea behind this puzzle was to create a page that looked just like the puzzle placemats that restaurants use but was really much more. I wanted it to be completely solvable and enjoyable by kids. But beyond that, I wanted something there for the people like me that look for puzzles everywhere. I added another layer with a metapuzzle pulling all six puzzles together for a final answer. It was a bit complicated to make all the pieces fit together so I was fortunate to have help from two friends. I don't want to spoil anything, but there's one part of the puzzle that I hope you'll be amazed that it was possible to do.
The puzzle was originally used in a puzzlehunt called "Alice in Puzzlehunt", inspired by the works of Lewis Carroll. We had a mad tea party that was a puzzle, a croquet game that was a puzzle, and a lot more. In addition, this puzzle was used as the "hidden puzzle" at one of the National Puzzlers' League annual conventions. The placemats were placed on the tables at lunch and it wasn't long before people were busy solving it instead of eating lunch. I thought people might be fooled and think it was put down by hotel staff, unaware of how juvenile the puzzles were. No such luck!
I'm writing about this now because this puzzle was recently featured in the video puzzle in Puzzazz's Kickstarter campaign for a Year of Puzzles and that inspired me to post it here. I hope you enjoy it and I encourage you to check out the campaign. UPDATE: The Kickstarter campaign was a success! The Year of Puzzles is in progress and you can download the first puzzle for free at http://www.puzzazz.com/yearofpuzzles.
To avoid spoiling this puzzle for others, please do not put the answer or any spoilers in the comments. The final answer is definitive -- you'll be sure you have it correct when you have it. If you have a question that isn't suitable for the comments, you can send me mail with questions at 'vroo' at this domain.