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Make Your Own Escape Room

Escape rooms have become fun interactive ways to spend time with friends and family while working together to solve riddles and puzzles in order to ‘escape’ from a room. When you take a group to a professional escape room, you typically pay per person so the cost can add up quickly. If you have a small group, you may end up being combined with strangers so the company can make the most profit. If you create your own escape room, you have a fun game that you can use repeatedly. Making a DIY escape room can be as easy or hard as you would like it to be. Here is a simple guide to help walk you through the steps and to get some fun ideas on how to make it a bit more special.

Girl writing "Escape Room" on a wall in chalk. There is also a key and a question mark.

What is an Escape Room?

An escape room is basically a game where the player or players must find and solve different clues and puzzles until they can successfully escape the room. It is a cooperative game which makes it a great team-building exercise because it is best when everyone works together. You can now find escape room board games, where the whole game is played out at the table, but this guide is how to create the original escape room, where the puzzles are hidden throughout an actual room.

Who is it for?

When creating your DIY escape room, the first thing to do is to figure out who you will be making it for. To be more specific, what the average player’s skill set will be. Are they small children? Do the players have strong problem-solving skills? Are there any special needs that may need to be addressed? How is their attention span? A typical escape room for adults generally is designed to take about an hour for the players to solve the puzzles and escape the room. The best part of making your own escape room is that you can cater to your audience’s needs. This means you can make the room shorter and the clues less difficult if need be.

Group of people playing in an escape room searching for clues

Escape Room Theme

Now that you have your audience in mind, it is time to pick your escape room’s theme. Will it be for a special event like a holiday, birthday, or bachelor/bachelorette party? Or will it be a general room? If you are focusing the game around a specific theme, you will want to keep that in mind when you are putting together the different hints and puzzles. Don’t worry, it is fairly easy to modify your escape room to fit a new theme if needed. This means that with minimal changes, you can use your original game to celebrate numerous occasions.

Ape puppet dressing as a bride
(This is Bobo. Bobo’s outfits change depending on the theme. This outfit was for the bachelorette party room)

Pick the Room

The next step will be selecting the best room to set the game up. There are several things to consider when picking a room.

  1.  Are there good hiding spots for clues? You can always bring in items to hide clues as long as they can blend in with the room decor.
  2. Are there areas in the room that need to be off-limits? These places will need to be blocked off somehow and players informed of this before the game is started.
  3. Are there items in there that are valuable/breakable? If the players might get a bit rowdy, you will want to avoid rooms that have items that may be broken or remove those items before you play the game.
  4. Are there any safety concerns? Make sure that everything in the room (i.e., furniture) is stable. This is especially important if the players are smaller children.
  5. Is the room big enough for the number of players that will be involved and the room moderator? (The room moderator is there to help the players along if needed and make sure they follow the rules.)

Once you have picked the best room to create your escape room, you will want to make a blueprint for it. Draw the general layout and include any pieces of furniture, closets, shelves, rugs, windows, etc. This blueprint will help decide where to hide clues and will provide the details of the room and game for whoever will be setting the room up in the future. It will also assist the room moderator while the game is being played.

Sketch blueprint of the layout of a bedroom
(Simple blueprint for the layout of the room to help plan where and what you can do)

Escape Room Puzzle Ideas

When creating the puzzles for your DIY escape room, it is crucial to keep in mind the players’ capabilities. The hiding spots should be in areas that they can safely get to and the clues and hints should be within their mental capabilities. If the players are younger or have never done an escape room before, you may want to stick to hiding spots or simple math problems that will give them the codes for combination locks. You are also able to adjust the difficulty in the riddles you create. If the players get stuck on a certain clue, the room moderator is there and can decide when to step in and how much help to give them.

Jigsaw puzzle along with a cipher
(Some of the puzzles and clues from our escape rooms)

Jigsaw Puzzle Clue– This clue involves drawing the next hint, riddle, or clue on the back of a jigsaw puzzle. Once the puzzle is put together, the players flip it over to uncover the next clue on the back of it. You can hide the puzzle pieces altogether or separately to make it a bit harder. You can purchase these at your local dollar store.

Riddles– You can easily create the riddles based on what you have on hand or you can use ready-made riddles. Check out for some ready-made rhyming riddles. The answer to the riddle should lead the players to the location for the next clue.

*For the bachelorette escape room, we hid the movie ‘Wedding Crashers’. The riddle was simply “SEARCH and WATCH out for UNWANTED WEDDING GUESTS”.  The words ‘search’ and ‘watch’ were capitalized and underlined to give a clue that they needed to search for a movie- something you watched. ‘Unwanted wedding guests’ was capitalized to narrow it down to the movie Wedding Crashers. Inside the case was the next clue (a key to a lock).*

Movie "Wedding Crashers"
(Perfect movie for the bachelorette escape room!)

Locks and Keys- The final clue typically ends in a locked box or bag. When they can unlock the box, the certificate or a note is inside congratulating them on finishing the room. But you can also use keys and locks throughout the rest of the room. Use them to lock cabinets, bags, or boxes. Keys are easy to hide under rugs, inside books, or any number of places. Combinations can be written down and hidden or be the answer to other riddles or ciphers.

Several bags, a shoe box, and locks
(Collection of the bags and some of the locks used in the escape room)

Rosicrucian Cipher can be used as another clue. Once the players decipher it correctly it can spell out the next hint or riddle. You can hide the code and the clue in the same or separate places.

Decoder Message– This is another puzzle that the players will need to decipher. The decoder is made up of two circles, each with letters of the alphabet around the circles. Players will need a 2-letter code to solve it. The 2-letter code contains the 2 letters that will need to be matched up on each circle to decipher the hint correctly.

Pig Pen– is another deciphering puzzle that once done correctly, will spell out the next hint.

3 Number Clue– this is a series of math riddles that will help the players select the correct 3-number code out of several. Each 3-number series will be connected to a different location. Once the correct series is selected, the players will be able to uncover the next clue there.

Hiding Spots– Consider using books, shelves, rugs, cupboards, cabinets, movies, etc. in the room to hide clues, keys, bags, and boxes. You can make the spots as easy or as hard as you would like for your future players.

Laptop– If you are computer savvy, you can even incorporate a computer into the game. Some of the codes uncovered could lead to the password needed to unlock the laptop. The laptop could house more riddles and hints also.

Putting it all together

As you are setting the clues up around the room, make sure to note where everything is on the blueprint. You will also want to make notes on what order the clues go in. The players will find things out of order, but the blueprint and master key will help the room moderator know what piece they may be missing if they get stuck. It will also make it easier to reset the room for future uses.

Remember that you don’t have to go out and spend a lot of money. If you do not have items like puzzles, bags, or locks that you can use, you can find most of these things at your local dollar store or clearance section.

DIY Escape Room Extras

There are several ways you can make your homemade escape room extra special depending on how much time, effort, and money you want to put into it. You can go the extra mile and add decorations to the room to enhance the theme of the game, have prizes available, or even make an introduction video.

Room Decorations

If you are creating a themed escape room, room decorations can add to the perfect atmosphere for the game. Look around to see what you may have in the way of decorations. If it is holiday-themed, you can use the things you have on hand to set up the room. Consider creating low-cost decorations from construction paper and other craft items that you already have in your home. Raid your attic and basement or visit the dollar store. You can even make a playlist for the room to have themed music playing in the background.

Two bouquets, two candles, and mini cardboard cutouts of a wedding dress and groom tuxedo
(Some of the small touches and decorations added for the bachelorette escape room)

*When we made our Bachelorette-themed escape room, we were able to reuse a lot of the decorations we had for our wedding and receptions. The playlist had all the wedding songs on it. This is the perfect time to bring out items that you saved but don’t have regular uses for.*

Escape Room Prizes

In a professional escape room, if the players have successfully escaped the room within the allotted time frame, they typically get a certificate. When you host an escape room at home, it is up to on how to reward your players.

It is very easy to create a certificate for the winners. Do a quick Google check or use Microsoft Word to get several certificate layouts. With a few adjustments and a printer, you now have an official escape room certificate.

Envelope with a paper that says "Winner" coming out of it

You can also include any number of prizes such as toy trophies or candy for once they escape the room. If you are hosting the room for a special occasion, you can also have prizes hidden throughout the room for the players to uncover as they solve the puzzles. For example, if they have to unlock a bag, box, or cupboard, hide some extra treats or toys in those spots along with the next clue. You can even have the prizes in line with the theme. If it’s for a birthday, the prizes can be party favors or birthday presents depending on who is playing.

Pink shirt that says " I work hard so my dog can have a better life" and socks
(Some of the simple prizes are hidden in the bags for a birthday escape room)

*During the bachelorette party, the bride-to-be uncovered champagne-flavored jellybeans, a veil, ring pop, and shots throughout the room.*

Escape Room Introduction

You will need some sort of introduction for the players before they enter the escape room. The introduction should include the rules of the games and any out-of-bounds areas. To make it more fun, you can have it match the theme of the game or you can even provide the players a video to watch to help set the mood. Use your phone to record a video, edit it, and add special effects with the Video Editor program on Windows. Play the video on your phone, tv, or laptop before or immediately after they enter the room.

(Sample version of the video for the bachelorette party)

Start Creating!

Creating your own DIY escape room is only as hard as you want it to be. I hope this guide helps you create your own escape room so you can have fun with your friends and family at your next gathering. This is a great and memorable way to celebrate any occasion that everyone will talk about for years to come! If you have any questions, feel free to comment below and we would be glad to help!

Do you want a free printable mini-escape room to save you time? Click here to get the pdf file via Google Drive!

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Pre-made pin for use on Pinterest for DIY escape room post

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About Author

Animal and wildlife enthusiast that currently owns four dogs, loves to travel, and try new things while saving as much money as possible!

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