How Escape Rooms Will Save Your Kids Birthday Party

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Crack out this year’s coolest party idea to wow those kids, make other parents jealous, and crush it like a total birthday boss!

So you've got a kids birthday party coming up...

Excited? Running for your life? Daunted by what to do with 19 girls from your daughter's new school?

Don't worry, you've got this!

No matter what kind of party it is, you and your kid(s) probably have differing priorities.

Kids consider it a great party if there are super fun activities, it’s well attended, and plenty of sweets are served.

Parents consider it a great party if it’s easy to plan and set up, budget-friendly, and requires the least amount of clean-up possible. If the kids don’t get excessively rambunctious after eating all those sweets, that’s a bonus.

Fortunately for you, there’s an easy way to not only fulfill most of your wish list but host a kid’s birthday party that’s heralded as a favorite for years to come (or at least until you plan another one!).

This year, you’re going to host the best party your kids have ever had.

You’re going to host an Escape Party!

Escape Parties Are The New Birthday Black

You know your kids are going to be disappointed if they invite a whole bunch of kids, and only a handful show up. 

Let’s start with the best part. Kids love activities that challenge their minds and allow them to engage in structured problem solving.

Don’t believe me? That’s what video games do!

Sure, it looks like they’re shooting zombies or fighting the evil empire, but they’re also using their critical-thinking skills to devise strategies and (often) work with other players as a team.

An escape game offers the exact same mental challenges and exciting “a-ha!” moments, but in a live setting where all the kids can participate at once.

They’ll have puzzles to solve. An imaginary danger to overcome. Opportunities to revel in imagination and show off their ability to think on their feet.

Just enough challenge to be fun

Escape Room Parties wow kids no matter how many rock up

You know your kids are going to be disappointed if they invite a whole bunch of kids, and only a handful show up. 

Plus, the more kids you invite, the more likely it is someone is going to feel left out. Many a parent has rued the decision to invite most of a son’s or daughter’s class only to realize they now have to invite the rest of the class members to be fair.

The optimal number of kids for an escape adventure is four to six. If you have more than six, you can divide them into teams and let them compete to finish first. So no matter how many guests you invite, it’s easy to make sure everyone can join in the fun.

Most kids have a small group of close friends - the friends they play with most often. Inviting this core group makes it much more likely that everyone will show up and also gives you a more manageable group to oversee once the sugar kicks in.

Beginning of the game.

They’re Simple to Plan and Budget Friendly (Sorry Beyoncé)

I know there are plenty of kids’ birthday party ideas on the Internet that involve elaborate set pieces, themed costumes, and complicated snacks.

And, sure, your child would probably be delighted if you pulled out all the stops, hired a clown and a magician, rented a bouncy house, and served a four-foot-tall minion cake.

But it’s not necessary. And, let’s face it. You don’t want to take out a second mortgage just to host a birthday party.

Plus, parties (birthday or otherwise) are supposed to be celebrations. They’re supposed to be fun. If you’re finding yourself dreading the event, you’re doing it wrong.

The Lost Mummy setup

One great thing about do-it-yourself escape adventures is they can be played anywhere. You can host the party in your house, in your backyard, at a local park . . .  pretty much anywhere you want! Well, maybe not at the local pool; the game cards could get wet.

Another great thing about do-it-yourself escape adventures is that they’re inexpensive (whether you download one of our ready-to-play kits or you design your own) and can be set up in about half an hour.

If you try out one our escape kits, you’ll even get themed posters and invitations along with it! Plus, we provide a Spotify playlist to add atmosphere to the game.

Plan the party for mid-afternoon (this gets you out of having to serve a meal), and you’re left with just a few low-cost party favors, maybe some snacks, and a cake to pick up!

Zombie setup survival guide

Did Someone Say Cleanup? Easy...

I can’t make any promises about the snack and cake area, but cleaning up after the game is easy.

Kids work together
Laser string game.
Teacup traps to navigate while blindfolded

Unless you decide to add a bunch of thematic decorations, you’re really just picking up a bunch of paper, maybe some scissors and tape, and possibly a couple of boxes and padlocks (which are optional). There are no little plastic pieces to keep track of (or accidentally step on when you’re not expecting it).

Your Champion for Post-Sugar Chaos

Sugar happens. 

I’m afraid you’re on your own on this one. My advice? Put a definite end time for the party on the invitations, and encourage parents to pick up their kids promptly.

Generally, a game will take kids around 45 minutes to an hour, which is a perfect amount of time for a birthday party. You can plan on 30 minutes to arrive and greet each other, an hour for the game, another hour for cake and presents, and just as the sugar is kicking in, your party is coming to an end.

Ready to Become a Total Birthday Boss?

The easiest way to host an escape adventure at your kid’s party is to download one of our ready-to-play escape kits. Our printable escape kits come with everything you need to host a full 45- to a 60-minute game.

Each kit comes with:

  • A full game in easy-to-print PDF format
  • Clear setup and gameplay instructions for you to follow (plus links to video tutorials)
  • Customizable party invitations
  • Posters
  • A bonus designer kit that allows you to personalize the game any way you like

To set up the game for your party group, you’ll print the game PDF on a color printer (or take it to an office store like Kinko’s and have it printed for you) and gather a few supplies (scissors, tape, some scratch paper and pens or pencils).

And you can set the stage with the included posters or themed “dollar-store” party decorations if you want.

That’s it.

When the kids are ready to play, you hand them the introductory game cards and let them start solving the puzzles. When they solve a puzzle correctly, you give them the next challenge and so on, until they’ve completed the game!

All the answers to the puzzles (as well as how to solve them) are included in your setup and gameplay instructions, so you can provide help if the kids get stuck.

Yes. It really is that easy!

The kits are incredibly versatile.

If you have a larger group, you can print more versions of the game, divide the kids into teams, and challenge them to see who can finish first.

You can add urgency by setting a timer and challenging everyone to finish the game within the time limit.

You can use the designer kit to adapt the puzzles for different age groups.

If you want to add some extra excitement to the game, instead of handing out the challenge cards, you can lock them in boxes with padlocks programmed to the previous puzzle’s answer.

And, of course, once you’ve purchased the game, it’s yours. So you can print it out and use it as many times as you want. (This can come in especially handy if you’re expecting to host a birthday party for a younger sibling in a couple of years!)

Or Build your Own Kids Escape Room (like Bob. Only cooler.)

You also have the option of creating your own game.

You can check out our full blueprint for crafting a DIY escape adventure or follow these more abbreviated steps for a child’s game.

Start with the escape theme.

Children are pretty good at deciding what kind of birthday party theme they want. This step is easy. Just ask!

Princesses! Robots! Wizards! Pirates! Dinosaurs!

Not surprisingly, many common kids’ birthday party themes are also common escape game themes.

Also, remember, you’re just doing this as a party game in your home (or other party venue), so you don’t need to worry about copyrights. If your child wants a Frozen-themed birthday party, create a Frozen-themed game. Just don’t try to sell it to anyone.

Write a short story. Like reeeal short.

Don’t panic. You don’t actually have to complete a creative writing project. You just need to know the following:

1. Where are the players?

Princesses might be in a castle or a garden.

Wizards might be in a classroom at wizard school.

Pirates could be in the cargo hold of a ship.

You won’t have to create these settings with elaborate set pieces. You’ll be using printed cards with images on them. So use your imagination!

MPG basic

2. Once the adventure begins, what is the players’ objective?

Do the princesses have to navigate a shrubbery maze in time for tea?

Do the Wizards have to mix up an invisibility potion to discover what another student is up to?

Do the pirates have to find the treasure map before the captain finds out they lost it?

The more interesting the objective, the more fun the kids will have.

Detailed story map for DIY room.

3. What three challenges must the players overcome to achieve their objective?

Some challenge ideas:

Princesses must navigate around “rose bushes” (cards on the floor) blindfolded with only the guidance of a non-blindfolded princess’s instructions.

Wizards must create a potion out of club soda and Kool-Aid powder that’s exactly the right color to “turn them invisible.”

Pirates must answer riddles to come up with a numerical code that opens a padlocked box containing the lost treasure map.

Story map for game

Craft the escape game the easy way

Create simple game cards using pictures from the Internet and your own words to introduce the setting, describe the puzzles, etc.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to create your cards in PowerPoint and then export them as JPGs. You can then print them at home or take them to a photo developer and have them printed on glossy paper for a more polished look.

Editing the game - before

Play the game (don’t miss this step 😉 )

When it comes time to play, explain to the kids who they are and what they’re doing. Hand them the first puzzle and let them play.

Easy setup instructions.

Prepare to Be Everyone’s Favorite Parent

You can be pretty sure none of the other kids’ parents let them escape from a mummy’s tomb at their birthday parties (at least until they see how successful YOUR party was!).

You can be pretty sure none of the other kids’ parents let them escape from a mummy’s tomb at their birthday parties (at least until they see how successful YOUR party was!).

Don’t be surprised if all the kids in your child’s class start wanting escape games at their parties. You may be starting a trend.

 

Games that encourage children to solve problems, work together, and accomplish rewarding objectives (even if they are imaginary) are not just incredibly fun - they’re excellent ways to help your kids develop into problem-solving team leaders as adults (not that you have to tell them that - let them think they’re just playing a fun game).

 

You might also discover that hosting an escape party inspires creative children to express interest in designing their own games! Practice with game design as children can often develop into valuable job skills when they reach adulthood.

 

If that all sounds like a lot of pressure, don’t worry. The only thing you absolutely have to do is plan a birthday party for your child that meets both of your priorities. You know . . . an escape party.