CREATE YOUR OWN ESCAPE ROOM 101

7 STEPS TO SUCCESS

1. CALCULATE BUDGET

I know.  This doesn’t sound fun, but it’s a must!  You need to know how much you’re willing to spend for your epic escape room.  The good news? You’re not going to need to mortgage the house.  Heck, you can give your friends and family a great time for less than $30!  That’s a fraction of the cost it would take to bring your family to a commercial escape room.  Set a budget that includes the cost of acquiring props and printing materials (and some yummy party food).  Save money by finding free props in your dusty attic or purchasing them from goodwill.  You can also save some dough by using one of our escape room kits to get started!

You can throw an escape room party for WAYYY less money than what this guy is holding.  

2. PICK LOCATION

Where will you be playing?  House?  School? Work?  Underwater?  Pick a place that makes sense for players and the elements in your game.  HINT: Don’t drag your 300 pound safe to mom’s house.  Just host the game at your own place!  As for teachers or youth pastors? Don’t stuff 20 rambunctious students in a tiny living room.  They need oxygen!  Need an escape room that is easy to play ANYWHERE at ANYTIME? Check out our escape room party kits.  

Pizza + escape room= BEST PARTY EVER!

3. CHOOSE STORYLINE

Whoohoo! Everyone loves this part.  What’s the storyline of YOUR room going to be?  Start with a common theme (like pirates or penguins) and add a storyline to make it unique.  Grab inspiration from this list of insanely creative theme ideas and avoid storylines that don’t make sense.  HINT: Pirates and penguins don't mix as a story.  We've tried :)

Kids come up with the coolest escape room ideas!

4. PICK PUZZLE LAYOUT

There are two major types of puzzle layouts: linnear and non-linear.  Choose which one best fits you as a designer and your group of players.  Linnear layouts follow a single path where puzzles need to be solved in a specific order one at a time.  Non linear layouts follow multiple paths where puzzles can be solved in a variety of orders at different times.  There are pros and cons to each type.  Check out the diagrams below.

There's no wrong answer! Just commit!

Non-linear

Best for larger groups (4+ people) because there are multiple puzzles to solve at once

Best for intermediate and advanced players who love a good challenge

Allows for highly creative design elements that can WOW your players

More complicated layout that can be challenging to design

Beginners may find this layout frustrating because progression in the game is not always clear

Linear

Simple layout that is easy to understand and design

Good for smaller groups (2-3 people) that want to work on each puzzle together

Sets a clear feeling of progression during game which motivates players to keep playing

Not as fun for larger groups because there’s not enough puzzles to solve at once

Requires a lot of expensive locks to control game flow because only one puzzle is unlocked a a time.

BOTTOM LINE: There's no wrong answer! Just pick one and commit!

5. CREATE 8-12 PUZZLES

Ah yes.  The hardest step!  Creating puzzles is a lot of fun but it can also take forever and give you a massive headache.  Take a short cut by checking out our puzzle dictionary or downloading one of our ready-to-play escape kits.  The best puzzles are both mental and hands on.  It’s also good for your puzzles to have different levels of difficulty because each player will have different skill sets.  Make sure the puzzles connect to each other based on your chosen layout in Step 4.  Congrats! It’s all downhill from here.

There are an infinite amount of puzzles to be created!

6. TEST YOUR ESCAPE ROOM

Once your puzzles and props are ready to go it’s important to play through your room once or twice.  You may decide to rework a puzzle or change your layout.  If so, make sure you test again!  Got a best friend?  Get them to test out the room and give you feedback.  Don’t get offended if they recommend a tweak a two. :)  Remember! One small mistake in an escape room design can create some serious confusion.  Unless you're the Joker, you'll want to avoid unnecessary chaos.      

Testing.  123. 

7. GET READY TO HOST YOUR ESCAPE ROOM PARTY!

Congratulations! If your escape room is ready to go then it's time to put on your party planning hat. Don't have an escape room yet?  Grab one of these DIY escape room kits for an easy way to entertain your guests.  Their sleek and clever designs will save your time and money!  Now it's time to be a super host!  Check out the host guide below for some helpful tips.

It's party time!

Want to have an escape room in your houSE?  Grab a kit and your wish will come true! 

 
mr george home escape room kit

Ages 12+

2+ Players

Out of this World

Super Mystery!

jigsaw island home escape room kit

Ages 9+

2+ Players

Explosive Kids'

Adventure!

 HOST YOUR OWN ESCAPE ROOM 101

7 STEPS TO PARTY STARDOM

1. PLAN YOUR PARTY

Most people attend escape rooms in the evening or on weekends, but you can technically host one anytime!  Choose a day and time that works best for the majority of your guests and reserve a time span that is at least two hours.  What kind of house party are you going to throw?  Down to earth chill or ultra ritzy deluxe?   Regardless of the style, friends, family and students will love your party because it’s YOU that are hosting it (and they love you of course!).  Just make sure you also feel comfortable with the food, drink, and decoration budget you’ve set in place.  You can save money by going Dutch and asking friends or family to bring over some horderves.  Potluck anyone?  Set the mood for your party by choosing  music, decorations and props that match the vibe of your room.    

Let's do this!

Don't turn her down!

2. SEND OUT INVITES

Who’s lucky enough to come to YOUR party?  Get them excited and pumped up with an official invite! Send your invites electronically or via snail mail.  Just make sure they know when and where the fun is going to erupt!  If you’d like your players to dress up or bring some food make sure they know ahead of time!  Your invites can specifically mention your room’s story OR let it be a complete surprise.  Want to be super clever? Include a small puzzle or riddle in your invite to tantalize your guests appetite for more puzzlicioius fun at your party!  You can scramble the birthday girl’s name or print the invite in reverse to people have to read it in a mirror!

3. PREP THE ESCAPE ROOM

Today is the day! Give yourself plenty of time to set up your escape room.  Rushing can create unnecessary errors that mess up the game.  Get everything ready and double check that each puzzle and prop are in the right place. Mentally play your game twice and make any last second changes.  If you haven’t done so already, create and rehearse a brief intro that you’ll deliver before the game.  A video or memorized intro work the best, but don’t sweat the small stuff.  Keep your intro short and to the point!   Your escape room story should mostly speak for itself during game play.                                                  

A mysterious star map from The Disappearance of Mr. George.  

Will they ever discover what happened to Mr. George?

4. SET UP PLAYERS FOR SUCCESS

Ready to play? Gather your players together and deliver your short intro about the room.  Make sure you also mention which puzzle layout is used (linear or non linear) and how much time there is to finish the room.  Oh yeah! And come up with a fun way for players to request a hint.  Do they need to form a conga line?  How about jumping jacks? Sing a lyric from Lady Gaga?  Be as crazy as you like with hints to enhance the party’s vibe.  Set a countdown timer that is visible to players to create extra excitement and suspense.

5. ACTIVELY OBSERVE AND

ENCOURAGE PLAYERS

As the host, it’s your job to help players progress through the room at a reasonable pace.  Nothing is more frustrating than spending 45 minutes on the first puzzle.  You want players to feel challenged, but not dumb or overly annoyed.  Players sometimes take escape rooms too personally and mistakenly equate them with IQ tests.  They think people will view them as stupid if they can’t figure out a puzzle or need a hint.  DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN!  Monitor your game either in person or via camera and provide hints when needed to help advance the game.    Continually tell players that it’s OK to have a hint and encourage them every step of the way!  People love escape rooms because they are fun and social, not because they want to be tormented with impossible puzzles or feel judged by others. 

Teamwork is critical!

Don't do this to your teammate! Well...unless they deserve it of course.  

6.  CONGRATULATE PLAYERS NO MATTER THE OUTCOME

Times up!  Way to go!  Did they only complete 5 of 12 puzzles? Awesome!  Did they get out in time and conquer 100% of the puzzles? Even better!  No matter what happens when the clock hits zero be excited for your players.  Thank players for participating in your escape room and tell them that they rocked the room!  Recap what the players accomplished and show them how to solve any remaining puzzles.  Let players give feedback on their favorite puzzles and what they liked best about the room.  Do they have any recommendations for improvement?  Accept their words of wisdom so that you can make yourself a better designer! Now it’s time to gather everyone together for a photo op!

7.  REMEMBER YOUR PARTY!

Before your puzzlers disband make sure to capture some fun group pics!  These photos are a quintessential escape room must! Include fun props and posters to tell the story of your accomplishments and encourage players to show everyone how much fun they had!     Don’t forget to share your cool pics and ideas with fellow escape room enthusiasts via social media like Facebook and instagram!  If you’re energized to throw another escape room party make sure to let your friends and family know!  They’ll love you to death and anxiously await your next fun adventure.      

Classic jump poses never get old!

want all of the hard work done for you? thrill your peeps with one of these kits!

mr george sales icon

Ages 12+

2+ Players

Out of this World

Super Mystery!

jigsaw sales icon

Ages 9+

2+ Players

Explosive Kids'

Adventure!

Okay….so you’ve read all of our previous recommendations on how to create and host your own escape room and you’re still looking for more?  Wow…you must be obsessed with escape rooms just like us! ;)  No worries! We don’t like to disappoint so here’s even more helpful insights on how and why you should use a printable escape room.

Now you may be wondering, why would I want to do a print and play escape room?  Well, the answer is quite simple…they’re ULTRA FUN, EASY and CHEAP.  Printable escape rooms are perfect for people who want to create a fun game AND have a limited budget.  Heck….you can grab one or our kits right now and have tons of fun for the fraction it would cost your family to attend a commercial escape room.  Let’s dive into the specifics of why these types of escape rooms RULE THE DAY!  

create a PRINTABLE ESCAPE room 101

7 reasons to do it right now!

1. INIFITE PUZZLE OPTIONS

It’s true! There is no limit to the number of puzzles that can be created using your computer, ink and some paper! In fact, almost no two puzzles in the universe today are exactly alike. Puzzles may be similar, but it’s extremely rare for them be to identical in every way. So why is that good?  Because it allows YOU to create a special escape room for your friends and family that no one else has ever experienced.  It also gives you the ability to be super crazy, creative and add special touches that have significant meaning to you or your family and friends.  A keyboard puzzle (like the one shown) is just one example of a puzzle that can have limitless variation.      

Cryptic keyboard from The Disappearance of Mr. George

2. EASY TO THEME

Want a pirate themed escape room? It’s yours!  How about an escape room just for girls? Totally can do! There are tons of royalty free images, icons, and pics you can use online to help theme your room and printable puzzles.  If you’re an artist you can also draw or paint your own clues and puzzles for others to enjoy.  Just make sure you keep your theme clear and consistent!  Got some extra props laying around the house that match your theme?  Throw them in!  You can also print some fun decorations and posters that match the vibe of your room or create a playlist of mysterious tunes.

3. CHEAP TO CREATE

A commercial escape room can cost over $25,000 to make, but you can make your own for easily under $30!  What’s cheaper?  A printed paper with a picture of the Mona Lisa or an actual framed replica of the Mona Lisa?  Both convey the same message, but the former is much more economical.  If you really wanted to make the picture bigger you could also just print it over four pages and tape them together or pay a couple bucks at an office store for a large poster.  Printable escape kits are as expensive as the ink and paper used to print them (+ any start up kits you may choose to use).  The choice is clear.  Printable rooms are cheaper and your go to solution for an epic house party!                           

Hide the puzzles anywhere!

4.  PLAY ANYWHERE

Paper puzzles and props are a lot easier to maneuver than 300 pound safes.  Heck…you can play a printable escape room at your house, hotel, classroom, dining hall, attic, dorm, outside, or anywhere there’s oxygen!  Need to hit up another party scene with your escape room?  Just put all of the clues in a folder and head toward your next fun destination.  Bonus!  Printable escape rooms are also super easy to clean up once you’re totally finished.  Just crumple everything up and throw it in the recycling bin.  The planet thanks you. 

Play outside or inside!

5.  PERFECT FOR LARGER GROUPS

Okay, this is hands down one of the best reasons to use a printable escape room.  Although most printable kits are designed for 2-4 players it’s easy to thrill larger gatherings by printing multiple copies, dividing people into groups. and running an exciting competition to see who can escape first!  Guys vs. gals, children vs. parents, couple vs. couple  are all great matchups to spice up the excitement.  Room puzzle board games cannot expand player capacity unless you literally purchase more copies ($20 + per copy of game) and commercial escape rooms can generally only accommodate about 10 people ($250+ for the room).  Print and play escape rooms can easily accommodate 10-100 guests at once (2-25 copies of game printed).  Looking to rotate groups through a single escape room? SImply exchange old printables for new ones each time a new group arrives.    

Divide people into groups and have an epic competition.

Each of our kits come with a Power Point version so you can add your own twist and turns.

6.  CUSTOMIZATION GALORE

The cool thing with paper puzzles is that you can easily edit the text or design before you print them off! Add an inside joke or a secret message that players can uncover during the game.  Escape rooms using printable kits also don’t need to be 100% paper.  You can integrate lots of other props and puzzles like those shown in our puzzle dictionary. Integrating real world objects is a simple and inexpensive way to upgrade your room and give it more of a professional vibe.  Puzzles can also be hidden around a room in order to increase difficulty and encourage teamwork.

7.  FUN FOR ANY OCCASION

Yes! Printable scape rooms can provide a magical  atmosphere for any event ! Birthdays, school activities, date nights, youth groups, and family reunions, are just a handful of reasons to throw an escape room house party. People love working together and conquering challenges that seem impossible at first glance.  Are the players complete strangers? Perfect! An escape room game is the perfect ice breaker for people to communicate and get to know each other.  The excitement and adventure of an escape room beats a boring movie anytime. It’s also more memorable!      

alright...let's do this.  Choose your kit now!

Unforgettable!

mr george sales icon

Ages 12+

2+ Players

Out of this World

Super Mystery!

jigsaw sales icon

Ages 9+

2+ Players

Explosive Kids'

Adventure!

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