I’ve done my fair share of birthday parties over the years, so I’m always looking for a new way to celebrate, but one that won’t leave me bankrupt. Since the pandemic put a stop to so many of our celebrations, I wanted to do something extra special for my daughter’s birthday this year. And so the idea of an escape room was born!
What is an escape room?
If you have never done an escape room before, it is a series of puzzles and clues that you must solve within a time limit to win your freedom. There are endless ways to play and scenarios to enjoy, so I decided to have a go at creating my own.
Decide on a theme
The first thing I did was to decide on a theme. Since my daughter is into Harry Potter I chose an ‘Escape from the Chamber of Secrets’ theme. This was really the most creative part and me and my husband had lots of fun thinking of all the different props and ideas from the books we could incorporate.
Put puzzles and clues together
Next, the tricky part – actually putting together the puzzles and clues and thinking about how it will all fit together. There are lots of ideas online which we used to help us here and we simply adapted them for our own theme. This one is great to use, as well as this one here. At this stage it’s best to write down a description of the clues for yourself along with the answers!
If that all seems a bit too much, there are escape room kits you can buy instead online, this one for example.
The best puzzles are actually relatively simple, some of them involved the kids finding certain objects around the room, or solving a maze or code to get an answer. If you have a padlock, you can simply hide a written clue inside a plastic wallet and hole-punch it before folding and padlocking it together. Then hide the key somewhere for the kids to find.
Make sure to test it first
Once I had created all the puzzles I needed to see if they worked, so my husband was put to the test! With a few tweaks we were ready to go. We went a little overboard on decorating the room with fun props (my husband even made a paper mache snake!) but be careful here, as too many can be confusing if they aren’t part of the game.
On the evening of the birthday we had four children working together to solve the clues, which was probably the maximum number of people you could comfortably fit in our room. It’s best to be on hand during this time, in case the kids need a little guidance or get stuck – and to enjoy watching them solve the puzzles as well!
Our escape room took roughly 60 minutes to complete, which was definitely long enough – you could make it shorter for younger kids. For 60 mins I had about 9 or 10 puzzles. Some were linked together though, so if you solved a code, you found a key that opened a box in the room.
Overall, although it did take quite a bit of preparation on my part, it was fairly inexpensive and the kids enjoyed it immensely!
If you’re looking for more fun ideas for kids’ birthday parties, have a look at our party games ideas here.