Blueprint for crafting your 1st escape room | Designers guide

How to Create a Magical DIY Escape Room Adventure

A Journey Into Imagination ... and an Epic Way to Manifest Joy, Laughter, and Cooperation

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Your journey into a heretofore only imagined realm of possibility is about to begin.

And, as with any worthwhile quest, your guide awaits.

Do you dare venture out of the Zone of Comfort and put your trust in your courage, your creativity, and your wise mentor (a.k.a. a tutorial you found online)?

Whether you've been obsessed with designing your own escape room adventure for years, or it just occurred to you that you need to do something special for your daughter's upcoming birthday party, this guide is for you.

Does this sound familiar?

It’s a rainy Sunday, the kids are bouncing off the walls, and frankly, there are only so many crafts you can make with cupcake liners and popsicle sticks, ‘mIright?

Everyone is converging at your house this Christmas, and it’s up to you to keep the topic of politics from ruining another holiday.

You and your mates are tired of your typical Friday night routine. If you have to sit in that same booth down at the pub and listen to Barry ramble on about his latest conquest one more time, you’re pretty sure you might stab someone in the eye with a butter knife.

There’s nothing showing at the cineplex that’s worth the cost of admission.

Your favorite TV show was cancelled after only 14 episodes.

Your car broke down (again), so everyone is coming over, and last time you played Pictionary, Beth and Suzanne almost got into a fistfight over a crudely drawn picture of a porcupine.

It’s time to do something drastic!

And boy, do I have just the thing.

Just The Thing

A play-at-home escape game / puzzle adventure is guaranteed to fulfill your creative aspirations, delight your kids, family, friends, students, coworkers ... group of random strangers (hey – I don’t know what you get up to when you have time to kill) … and inspire those around you to put down their phones, forget about the latest political scandal, and just enjoy life for a while.

The first step is to decide if you want to design your own game or use a ready-to-play, printable escape kit.

You can decide now, or keep reading and decide later (don’t worry; these buttons aren’t going anywhere).

Your Adventure Begins Here

Congratulations! You have chosen to design a simple DIY escape adventure game
(or keep reading and decide later – a perfectly acceptable choice).

If you’ve played full-sized, immersive escape rooms or digital escape games on your phone or tablet, you already have a general idea of what you’re shooting for.

Don’t worry, though. You don’t have to hire a contractor to build a secret door into your bookcase (although, in all honesty, if you can afford it, you totally should … because, duh! Secret bookcase door!). And I’m not going to send you off to code school to learn to build mobile apps in Python.

Nope. For this project, you’re going to complete three simple steps, all of which can be done for free with basic skills you already possess!

Ready for this?

Here’s what you’re going to do:

  1. Make up a story
  2. Add some puzzles
  3. Make your game out of common household items and a set of game cards

Things You Can Do with a Printable Escape Game

Here are some great ways to get the most out of your do-it-yourself escape game:

Host an Escape Party for your crew or your family.

Use it as a Team Building Exercise at work.

Make it the activity at your kids’ next birthday party.

If you’re a teacher, create an Educational Game and challenge your students.

 

Got a game you think is unique and challenging enough to earn you some cash? Lock Paper Scissors is always looking for game-design partners. Make sure you read these advanced tips before you get started, and check out our escape-kit publishing page to find out how to submit your game for review.

Sound easy?

Good. If I made it sound difficult, you might give up right here, and then all the work I put into writing this guide would be wasted.

The truth is, designing and building your own puzzle adventure game is a little challenging, and it takes time and practice to get good at it.

But it’s also really fun, and your audience is probably a group of people who like you and have realistic expectations (unless you’re testing your game on that group of random strangers we mentioned, in which case, you’re on your own, buddy).

I mean, seriously, if your kids are disappointed with your first attempt to design a puzzle game for them, it’s not like they’re going to write mean reviews on Yelp.

In other words, if you’re enthusiastic and give it your best shot, you’re going to make something entertaining, cool, and potentially more attractive than those Pinterest FAILs you’ve created in the past (you know who you are).

So ... are you up for the challenge?

(It’s totes okay if you’re thinking “This sounds like a lot of work, and I’m in a hurry.” That’s why we make ready-to-play, printable kits!)

Step 1: The Story

Although solving puzzles is fun on its own, it’s even more fun when there’s an interesting story to go along with them. Something with a beginning, middle, and end.

For most people, this is the easiest step in the process.

What You Need

Time to Complete Step 1

  • ~ 45 minutes
    (unless you’re a perfectionist, in which case, this could take days … and possibly turn out to be the first chapter of that novel you’ve been thinking about writing)

Step 1 Roadmap

Step 1.1: The Logistics

First, answer the following questions:

1. Who will be playing the game?

The theme, game length, and puzzle complexity all depend upon the answer to this question.

For example, if you’re creating a game for your 8-year-old and her classmates, it’s probably best to avoid a 90-minute, Nightmare on Elm Street-themed adventure filled with puzzles that require advanced logic skills.

So, start with your target audience and work from there.

2. How long will the game last?

For reference, most professional escape rooms last 60 minutes (although there are some that are shorter and a few that are longer).

For practicality, you might want to design a 30-minute game for your first attempt, just to get comfortable with the process.

For gameplay, think about your group.

  • A kid’s game shouldn’t last longer than an hour (45 to 60 minutes is perfect).
  • If you’re designing a team-building exercise for your office, you might need to find out the amount of time your boss has set aside for it (unless you’re the boss, in which case, determine how long your team gets to play games at work and make it so).
  • Maybe your family is easily distracted. If so, try a 30-minute game, so everyone can enjoy it before wandering off to find a second or third helping of pie.

Once you know how long you want the game to last, figure on approximately 10 minutes per puzzle.

3. What is the story’s theme or genre?

In other words, where does your story take place and what kind of story is it?

For this one, your options are limitless!

Think about what story types you and your crew enjoy. Or, if you’re creating your game for a group of kids, think about the story themes they enjoy.

Some great sources of inspiration are your favorite movies, games, books, and even past escape rooms you've played. You’re not making this game for publication, so you don’t need to worry about copyright issues.

Also, remember, you’re not building a life-sized escape room with secret doors, lighting effects, and fancy, high-tech props. You’re telling a story in which household items stand in for fancy, high-tech props and cards contain pictures of thematic elements.

You are literally limited by nothing, so set your imagination free!

  • German spies aboard the Titanic
  • A fairy-tale set in Never-Never-Land
  • An adventure in a lost temple in the Amazon
  • A mystery aboard a spaceship where no man has gone before

You get the idea.

Long story short, just choose an escape room theme you love. As long as it’s not boring ...

... But then again, if you’re the sort of person who enjoys boring stories, you’re probably not reading this article.

Example 1.1: The Logistics

To help you see these steps in action, I’ll use a game I designed, The Lost Mummy, and take you through the process from start to finish as an example.

1. Who will be playing the game?

  • Pre-teen boys and girls (ages 10-12)

How long will the game last?

  • I’d like my game to last approximately 45 minutes to an hour, so I’ll incorporate four or five puzzles.

What is the story’s theme?

  • Explorers in ancient Egypt

Step 1.2: The Narrative

It’s storytelling time!

Remember when I said your story should have a beginning, middle, and end? Now it’s time to figure out what those are.

The beginning is whatever your players are doing before anything interesting happens.

The end is completion of the quest.

The middle is pursuit of a goal. (This is where the puzzles live.)

Having a goal, and knowing something dire is in store if that goal is not reached, adds urgency and an extra level of fun to your adventure.

So, you already decided on a theme. What is your players’ goal?

  • "Thwart creepy, evil Sherlock's plan to assassinate the chief of police"? Awesome.
  • "Help the Wolfpack work out what really happened in Vegas"? Classy.
  • “Get Elsa and Olaf to the Land of Happily-Ever-After”? Magical.
  • “Find a dangerous artifact and return it to its proper place in the warehouse”? Epic.
  • “Save the cheerleader, save the world?” Obscure already?
  • "Escape from your mom’s place"? Ummm … maybe pass on that one …

And what will happen to your players if they fail to reach their goal?

Obviously, since this horrible thing isn’t actually going to happen to anyone in your group, you can be pretty imaginative (and twisted, if that’s your thing).

  • Fail to repair the time machine? Get trapped in that past with a bunch of dinosaurs … or your mother as a teenager.
  • Fail to find the secret Nazi plans? Live forever in a world in which the fascists won WWII.
  • Fail to get Princess Peony back to the Garden of Eternal Happiness before she wilts? Eternal Not-Happiness.
  • Fail to defuse the bomb? Self explanatory.

Got it?

Excellent. Your story now has a middle.

Now all you need is a beginning and an event to get the middle underway.

The beginning is simple. What are your players doing before they have a goal, and how does their goal become a goal?

Most people don’t wander around on a daily basis looking for opportunities to save the world (unless they’re Bruce Wayne … if your players are all Bruce Wayne, you now have your beginning. You’re welcome.)

Generally, your story is going to begin with some kind of “Everything is peaceful and ordinary until …” and then add the not-so-peaceful-and-ordinary event that changes everything ...

  • … the zombies arrive
  • … the birthday cake comes to life
  • … a tornado transports the house to a magical land that is definitely not Kansas

There are no specific rules to making up a beginning, but you probably want it to seem like a logical thing one would do before embarking upon the adventure you’ve invented.

You can now write out your story as follows:

You’re [doing this thing] when [something happens]. You must now [accomplish this goal] before [this horrible thing occurs].

Your players may be themselves. Or you can give them identities that fit within your theme (archaeologists, spies, detectives, fairy godmothers, soccer moms, whatever).

Example 1.2: The Narrative

The players’ goal in The Lost Mummy is to find their way out of an ancient Egyptian tomb, so here’s my basic story:

“You’re walking beside the River Nile when you feel the ground shift, and you tumble down a stony shaft into a long-abandoned tomb. You must now find your way out before the tomb becomes your own.”

"Escape From Your Mom's Place" isn't a cool goal.

Step 1.3: The Details

You might have noticed that your basic narrative seemed a little dull.

That’s okay. Now it’s time to expand upon it and give your story and world some style.

What do your players logically need to do to get through the middle? Obviously it’s not much of a game if they can just wave a magic wand and jump from the beginning to the end without any effort!

Let’s say your players need to get Anna and Kristoff from a beginning point to the Land of Happily-Ever-After. What will they encounter in between the two points?

  • A frozen forest?
  • A magical door?
  • A divorce attorney?

Think through the journey your players must take to accomplish their goal.

Tip: Keep it fairly simple. Remember, your players have to overcome these challenges in a limited amount of time! On the other hand, even if you’re creating a short game, you’ll want to include at least two or three challenges. Otherwise, you’re basically just inviting your mates over to open a padlock, and who does that?

Now your story looks more like this:

You’re [doing this thing] when [something happens]. You must now [accomplish this goal] before [this horrible thing occurs].

In order to [accomplish this goal], you must:

  1. [Do this]
  2. [Do this]
  3. And [Do this].

Example 1.3: Details Part 1

Here is the initial Lost Mummy story with preliminary details filled in.

You’re walking beside the River Nile when you feel the ground shift, and you tumble down a stony shaft into a long-abandoned cavern. You must now find your way out before the tomb becomes your own.

To find your way out, you must:

  • Figure out how to open the stone door
  • Find your way out of the burial chamber
  • Navigate through a maze of underground tunnels

Now, write down what your players will see, hear, and find in the imaginary world you’ve created. These may end up just being set pieces for atmosphere, or they may become key elements in your puzzles.

For example, say your players need to look for clues in evil Sherlock's den. They might come across a fob watch covered in scratches and blood or maybe a battered violin. In Escape from Your Mom's Place, a pink knitted blanket or a cross-stitch sampler might fit in well …

At this stage, none of the story elements are puzzles, so feel free to be creative and make your imaginary world as interesting as you can.

Example 1.3: Details Part 2

In The Lost Mummy, players are trapped in a long-lost Egyptian tomb, so they might come across any of the following items:

  1. Sand
  2. Hieroglyphics (I can already tell these will make a great code to decipher!).
  3. A hieroglyphic decoder (like the Rosetta stone)
  4. Canopic jars full of guts
  5. A sarcophagus with a mummy inside
  6. Paintings on the walls
  7. Treasure
  8. Stone walls and doors

Now, put your details together to complete your story.

Example 1.3: Details Part 3

Here is a more complete version of The Lost Mummy narrative.

You’re walking beside the River Nile when you feel the ground shift, and you tumble down a stony shaft into a long-abandoned tomb. You must now find your way out before the tomb becomes your own.

Everything around you is ancient, dusty, and silent. You realize that no other human has set foot in here for centuries. Mysterious paintings decorate the stone walls, and priceless artifacts are stacked against the walls.

The chamber you’ve landed in is too deep for you to climb out, and large stone door adorned with hieroglyphic writing appears to be the only exit.

Since you can’t get out the way you came in, you must (1) figure out how to open the stone door.

Once you make it through the stone door, you find yourself in a chamber with a large sarcophagus in its center and no apparent way out, aside from the door you just came through. Canopic jars full of guts sit nearby.

In order to get past the sarcophagus, you must (2) weigh the mummy's heart against the feather of truth.

If the heart is lighter than the feather, a secret door appears behind the sarcophagus. You crawl through it and find yourself in a third chamber that leads into a maze.

In order to find your way out of the tomb, you must (3) navigate through the maze by reconstructing the original engineer’s plans.

Once you make it through the maze, you discover a tunnel that leads to the surface and escape the tomb.

Boom! Check it out! You’re finished with Step 1!

Ready to move on to Step 2?

Story Planning done? Time to hack some puzzles!

Step 2: Add Some Puzzles

Congrats! You've made it this far!

Now you’re moving into the challenging part of the process.

Thinking about making up puzzles is a lot easier than actually doing it. You’ll see in a minute.

The thing to keep in mind is that you’re creating this game for folks you know. It doesn’t have to be perfect … it just needs to be fun. So don’t go overboard trying to devise the challenge of the century.

Short on Time?

 In a hurry? Grab one of these printable escape room kits.

They download instantly and are ready to print and party.

You can even edit the game using PowerPoint to add your own style and puzzles.

Step 2.1: Match Puzzle Types to Your Narrative Challenges

You might have already started doing this in your head.

Review the challenges you wrote in your narrative. What type of puzzle format does each one suggest?

Here are some examples to help you get started:

  • Navigating from one place to another could be a maze.
  • Opening a lock might require a numeric code.
  • Discovering a secret suggests a cipher (like a coded note or postcard).
  • Defeating zombies obviously requires a nerf or water gun.

Tip: At this point, you may realize you need to make some adjustments to your story. That’s perfectly okay! Your story isn’t written in stone … (it isn’t, right?)

Go ahead and change whatever you need to make your puzzle ideas fit your narrative. Epic quests are rarely linear ... and neither is storytelling.

You can create a few completely separate puzzles or (more fun, but also more work) string several challenges together so that players must find the answer to one in order to solve the next, and so on. (If you’re interested in designing a game for publication, you’ll definitely want to do the latter; check out the Advanced Tutorial for tips on doing this.)

Either way, if you’re making a game for kids, I recommend including at least one active challenge, like tossing bean bag “jewels” into a basket blindfolded, maneuvering through a “laser maze” made of string, or hitting a target with a water balloon.

What am I saying? Even if you’re making a game for adults, throw in one or two of these challenges. Being a grownup is no reason to stop playing with water balloons!

Here's a big list of DIY escape room puzzles you can create at home. Pick out your favorites (or make up some of your own!) and decide how you’ll present them to your players.

Example 2.1: Picking Out Puzzles

As I was writing the narrative for The Lost Mummy, I was already imagining some of the puzzle possibilities.

Challenge 1: Figure out how to open the stone door

For this puzzle, I decided to give players a set of “stones” that needed to be arranged in the correct order to find a numeric code.

Once players found the numeric code, they’d receive a cipher puzzle using hieroglyphics. The solution to this earned them the next set of cards.

Challenge 2: Weigh the mummy's heart against the feather of truth

For the second challenge, players had to determine which organs were stored in which jars, then solve a simple riddle to place the jars in the correct order (from left to right).

Once this was complete, the weight of the heart could be calculated and compared to the weight of the feather. If they matched, they received the final set of cards.

Challenge 3: Navigate through the maze by reconstructing the original engineer’s plans

Here, players had to use clues to determine where certain landmarks would be found within the maze, then use their cipher-decoding skills to find the correct path to the end.

Being a grownup is no reason to stop playing with water balloons!

Step 2.2: Decide How You’ll Present Each Challenge to Your Players

I know what you’re thinking.

"Didn't we already do this?"

The answer is, "Kind of."

We came up with some great ideas, but now we have to figure out exactly how they'll look when players encounter them.

Here are some examples:

  • Physical challenges may need props or setup (a string laser maze is only cool if you – you know – get string and tie it to stuff).
  • Pencil-and-paper puzzles can be presented on a (wait for it …) piece of paper. Obviously, this is way more fun if you give your piece of paper some thematic touches.
  • Riddles can be written or spoken aloud.
  • You can hang signs on things around your house to tell your players what imaginary objects they’re looking at (“This door is a portal to Pylea. You can only go through it in the convertible.”)
  • You can tell your students the floor is lava, or you can place red construction paper in the areas where they can’t touch the floor.
  • You can use real combination locks (players will know if they got the right code if the lock opens) or you can give them a picture of a lock and tell them if they got the code right.
  • Got clues the escapees will need? Hide, stash, and store them anywhere hard to find.

Example 2.2: Designing the Puzzles

First, I realized that The Lost Mummy players would need a set of clues. I created a simple clue-delivery method in the form of an explorer’s journal, filled with scribbled notes that would come in handy during the game.

Challenge 1: Figure out how to open the stone door

For this puzzle, I decided to give players a set of “stones” that needed to be arranged in the correct order to find a numeric code.

The stones became game pieces that could be cut out with scissors and arranged on another image.

Once players found the numeric code, they’d receive a cipher puzzle using hieroglyphics. The solution to this earned them the next set of cards.

Clues in the journal and a cipher-key game card provided players the information they needed to solve the cipher. Again, I added game pieces that could be cut out with scissors and arranged on a game card to add interactive fun.

Challenge 2: Weigh the mummy's heart against the feather of truth

For the second challenge, players had to determine which organs were stored in which jars, then solve a simple riddle to place the jars in the correct order (from left to right).

This challenge included clues in the journal, an anagram, and a series of arithmetic equations to figure out the contents of the jars.

A jigsaw puzzle (again, pieces players cut out with scissors) revealed the riddle for the jar order.

Once this was complete, the weight of the heart could be calculated and compared to the weight of the feather. If they matched, they received the final set of cards.

The equation results from the jars came into play here to calculate the weight of the heart. Players then had to figure out the weight of the feather using visual clues on the card.

Challenge 3: Navigate through the maze by reconstructing the original engineer’s plans

Here, players had to use clues to determine where certain landmarks would be found within the maze, then use their cipher-decoding skills to find the correct path to the end.

This was the final challenge, so I wanted to make it particularly exciting. It involved cutting out pieces, then folding and taping them into three-dimensional objects (four obelisks and a pyramid). Using hints in the journal, these items could be arranged upon a map on a game card.

Once the pieces were arranged correctly, the cipher key from the original challenge and hints in the journal were used to translate the directions (right and left plus numbers of “turns”).

Step 2.3: Make a “Shopping List”

Now that you’ve decided how you’ll present your puzzles, make a list of the items you’ll need to completely create each one.

This is easy for the physical challenges. If you need balloons or string or hoola-hoops or bean bags, write it all down.

If you need a series of signs, write down what you need and what they’ll say.

If your players will need a cipher key, write down whether it’s going to be in a conveniently placed book or hidden in the image on one of your game cards or spelled out in refrigerator alphabet magnets.

Also, if you plan to use a cipher, you’ll need to write down your original message and then write it out as it will look in the cipher. For now, it’s enough to just have these things figured out. When you get to Step 3, you can make them look all cool and stuff.

For example, if one of your puzzles is a cipher written in Morse code, write out the actual message as it will appear. Then, since few people know Morse code these days, you'll also need to determine how to provide a lookup chart somewhere, either in your game cards or in the room where you’ll be playing the game.

Example 2.3: My “Shopping” List

Because I wanted The Lost Mummy game to be playable as soon as it was printed, I didn’t include any puzzles that required props (although there were plenty of places where props could add to the fun!).

Here’s what I needed to create:

  1. A set of cards to stand in for the journal with clues scattered throughout the pages
  2. An image of the “door” with “recessed spots” where a set of “stones” would be positioned and hints regarding their correct placement
  3. Images of the four “stones” containing images that matched up to the hints on the door
  4. A card containing a “Rosetta stone”displaying part of a cipher key and a set of cut-out pieces to complete the key
  5. A message written in hieroglyphics
  6. A card containing an image of a set of four canopic jars with anagrams and equations on them
  7. A card containing a cut-out jigsaw puzzle with a riddle written on it
  8. A place to record the jar placement with another arithmetic equation on it and a picture of a feather with clues to calculate its weight
  9. A card containing a map with spaces to place the three-dimensional pieces
  10. A set of cards containing the outlines of each three-dimensional piece that would fit perfectly on the map once cut out and taped together
  11. A few cards introducing the story, explaining the transitions, and congratulating players at the end.

You've completed Step 2!

Are you pumped?

Are you confident?

Are you ready to crush Step 3?

Step 3: Create Your Game

What You’ll Need:

  • Your imagination
  • The items on your shopping list
  • A decision: Do you want to make digital or a non-digital (analog) cards?
    • Digital Format:
    • Analog Format:
      • A set of 5” x 8” index cards
      • Theme-related images (drawn, printed, cut from magazines … it’s up to you)
      • Art supplies if drawing; glue if using printed or cut-out images

Time to Complete Step 3

  • ~ 4-6 hours

Step 3 Roadmap

Step 3.1: Decide How Many Cards You Need

Everyone knows counting cards in Vegas is a great way to get banned from the city for life.

In this case, though, I recommend it.

Look over your story and figure out which elements need game cards and which do not. Some of this will be determined by how much of your narrative you want to share out loud and how much of it will be written down.

Here are some tips:

  1. If you want to give your game an extra little professional flourish, create a title card with the name of your game and a picture that sets the mood. Add “An Escape Adventure By [Your Name]” to it if you want. Take pride in your work!
  2. You can tell your players who they are, where they are are, and what their mission is, or you can make an introductory card that introduces the story and fills the players in on their quest. Use images that establish the setting and tone of your narrative.
  3. When you completed Step 2, you figured out how each puzzle will be delivered. If the delivery method for any of your puzzles is paper, that's a card (or several)!
  4. Make cards for any cypher keys you don’t plan to use actual objects for. Blend the key in with the images or text on the card. Don’t make it too easy to find!

Example 3.1: Counting Cards

The Lost Mummy game has 18 cards.

  • 1. Title page
  • 2. Story intro
  • 3-6. Journal pages (to provide clues)
  • 7. Door puzzle
  • 8. Rosetta Stone
  • 9. Cipher puzzle
  • 10. Story transition from first chamber to second chamber
  • 11-12. Canopic jar and weight-of-the-heart puzzles
  • 13. Story transition from second chamber to third chamber
  • 14-17. 3-dimensional pieces and map for final maze puzzle
  • 18. Final story card heralding escape

Step 3.2: Show Off Your Mad Design Skills

Now it’s time to create those cards!

At this point, you’ve already done all the hard work. This step is just taking all the ideas and sketches and puzzle designs and turning them into a playable game.

You can draw on index cards.

You can glue pictures you printed or found in magazines to index cards.

Or you can use the PowerPoint template I’ve provided. This gives you a lot of extra design options, since you can find images online that match what you want, use fancy fonts to write your instructions, and even print the whole thing on thick cardstock at an office store if you want it to look super polished and professional.

Here's the Final Game I Made:

The Lost Mummy Tmb

The example storyline, puzzles, and photos in this guide are from The Lost Mummy, a kid’s escape room kit I co-designed.

Although it was a lot of work, it was also a lot of fun.

You can download the final game here. It's a great activity for birthday parties, Ancient-Egypt units in school, youth groups, and more!

Step 4: Play Your Game!

You did it!

You designed a DIY escape room adventure kit!

I told you it wasn’t easy, and you just jumped in and crushed it anyway!

So, obviously “play your game” wasn’t one of the three steps to designing your game, but now that your game is finished, it shouldn’t just live on your hard drive or in a drawer somewhere!

You’ve worked hard on this. Go ahead and show it off!

Invite your friends and family over.

Play it in your classroom or at work!

Finally, if you're planning an epic escape party, consider going all out with the bonus tips below.

Bonus tips to add swagga

Dress the Part

If your crew's up for it, breaking out the costumes is one surefire way to heighten the fun and boost the imagination!

  • Sherlock theme? Grab an overcoat and scarf.
  • Escaping from Cell Block 52? Rock up in your pajamas.
  • Wizarding school? Break out your finest dress robes.
  • Zombie theme? Um ... tomato sauce?

Spruce Up the Place

Buy some cheap DIY props that get the atmosphere cranking.

Set the Scene

The only issue with doing an escape room at home is that your TV and couch combo aren't exactly Sherlock themed ...

Here's where background music totally crushes it!

There are a bunch of free soundtracks on this background music site.

You can also search YouTube for “[theme] background music,” and you may find exactly what you’re looking for.

For example, typing in “zombie background music” takes you to this page, which features a number of different options of different lengths.

Finally, you can search for music genres (like jazz or swing) on Spotify and make your own playlist or use a pre-made one. Start it up as your guests arrive to set the mood.

Host a Fabulous Feast

(No, no no. I said feast ... not beast.)

If you're a foodie (or you just want an excuse to use blue food coloring in something), make the evening an escape dinner party and theme up the menu.

  • Breaking out of the slam? Pass around cheap white bread and water instead of hors d'oeuvres.
  • Stealing a senator's little black book at a gala fundraiser? Fancy canapes on silver trays are just the ticket.
  • Trying to find a cure before zombies break through? Might be a good time to pass around some green and red jello.
  • Wizard school hijinx? Bring on the Butterbeer!

You're a Rock Star!

Maybe you tried your hand and designing a game. Maybe you decided to purchase one of our ready-to-play kits. Either way, you stretched your imagination muscles, and I’m betting you had a ton of laughs.

Plus, escape games encourage folks to use their imaginations, to think critically, to use their problem-solving and communication skills, and to live in the moment. Notice how everyone put their phones down when the game began? You made that happen.

Take yourself out to dinner, enjoy some champagne or sparkling juice, and feel like the rock star that you are!

If you did design a game, drop me a line and let me know how it went. Did your crew enjoy it? What did you learn from the process? Why not use what you learned creating this one to start another one? You’ll find that the more times you go through the process, the easier it becomes.

OR, try this! Design a game with your kids or students! Teach them to use their imaginations to develop stories and think through puzzle elements. They’ll learn invaluable skills and have a ton of fun sharing their games with their friends.

Finally, if you design a game that works out really well, Lock Paper Scissors is always looking for game-design partners. Make sure you read these advanced tips and make the applicable adjustments to your game, then check out our escape-kit publishing page to find out how to submit your game for review.

These printable escape room kits are ready to play right now!

 In a hurry? Grab one of these printable escape room kits.

They download instantly and are ready to print and party.

You can even edit the game using PowerPoint to add your own style and puzzles.