26 Outrageously Fun And Easy DIY Escape Room Puzzles
Looking for an easy escape puzzle win? Create your own acrostic! They're similar to crossword puzzles and work well because most people are familiar with them. Start with a key word (like exit) and work backwards to find build up words that share common letters (like dentist, x-ray, drill, and tooth). Now create clues that help players identify the build up words and understand which letters create the ultimate key word. Make sure to choose words that make sense with your room’s storyline (like escape the evil dentist!). Avoid weird words that are not familiar to most people (like snollygoster and cattywampus).
From A to Z.
Acrostic/jumbler from The Disappearance of Mr. George escape room party kit
Popping balloons will inject laughter (or terror) into your room. Hide letters or numbers within four to five balloons. Once the players have gleefully popped them all, they’ll need to unscramble the clues into meaningful words or combinations. Tie matching color balloons to a locked box or combination lock so that players know where to plug in the uncovered combination. Make sure your players don’t have globophobia!
Anyone gotta pin?
Gotta an old calendar laying around? Dates provide tons of meaningful numbers and sequences that are perfect for creating secret codes. Encrypt four digit combinations by marking certain numbers with different colored pushpins (or colored markers). Players will have fun discovering that the calendar is not just a cool prop, but also a helpful cipher! You can also scramble any top secret word by circling its letters within the names of the months and holidays listed in the calendar. The possibilities are endless!
The digits needed for this code are 2-0-7-3.
Put matching colored stickers on a 4 digit combo lock so people know what to do next!
Lets Roll! Grab four dice from your board game collection (Yahtzee is a treasure trove!) and cut out four tiny squares of different colored paper. Draw a question mark on each square and tape the squares to one side of each dice. The covered dots now represents a single digit needed for a numeric code! Tape matching colored squares to a lock so players know how to crack it and wallah! Your dice puzzle is complete :) For extra fun place your modified dice in a board game with lots of normal dice so that players can enjoy discovering the mystery!
Each question mark covers a secret number. The lock shows the order of the numbers.
The answer is NOTHING! Although rich people still need some oxygen I think.
Creepy phone messages have always given us the chills. Movies “Scream” or "I Know What You Did Last Summer" ring a bell? Leave a verbal message that seems cryptic at first but makes perfect sense once players put on their thinking caps. You can record a message backwards, speak in riddles, chant in Vulcan, or use an eerie whisper. Messages can be recorded via computer, phone, or retro cassette player. Make this mysterious escape room puzzle even more epic by having an actual person call and chat with your players (just make sure the person fully commits to their role!)
LOVE CREATIVE PUZZLES?
YOU'LL LOVE THESE Printable ESCAPE KITS!
Out of this World
Three dimensional puzzles will rock any escape room because they’re hands on! Make your very own by drawing a picture, hint or combination on some pieces of fruit (circular ones work best!) Cut the fruit into even pieces and present it on a platter in your room as a prop. You'll also want to make sure the matching lock has a picture of fruit on it so players know where to plug in the code. Make sure that players also know not to eat the puzzle or they’ll be trapped forever!
Don't eat the puzzle!
Nothing says escape room like a game within a game. Check out The Disappearance of Mr. George for another epic example of this idea! A chess board by day can double as an ultra secret message board by night using glow stickers or black light letters. Use a board game's boxes to spell out any special word or numeric code players need to unlock the next lock (checker boards and sudoku puzzles also work great!). Just make sure your room has a light switch or dimmer!
Shall we play?
Looking to do a prison escape room? Brand your inmates with prison tattoos (or stickers) before they start using letters that spell a code. Place your chosen stickers on each player's hand as they enter the room and explain that only the most dangerous and devious criminals require these special identification marks (so if they escape they're easier to find). Little do the players know that you're actually a secret mafia member trying to help them escape! Only teamwork and great unscrambling skills will set these jailbirds free.
Did you know that mannequins work great as hand models? Cheaper too.
Use frozen plastic tiles to scramble your top secret words or combination.
Have you noticed that commercial escape rooms almost never use liquids in puzzles? Well…that’s because they entertain thousands of random strangers and one of them is bound to have an UH OH moment and spill Kool Aid on a $500 prop. Make your room COOLER than theirs by freezing clues (Scrabble/Banagram letters!) within ice cubes. Players will have to figure out clever ways to melt the cubes before solving the puzzle. Hint! Use warm hands or blow on them!
Diamonds are an escape room designer’s best friend. Grab a bunch of fake gems from a craft store (or real ones from your safe if your Richie Rich) and sort them by color. Put the following gems inside a jewelry box: 6 blue, 7 red, and 9 yellow. Next, place a blue, red, and yellow sticker on a 3 digit combo lock that you can set to 6-7-9. Only the brightest jewel thieves will be able to crack this code. You can also make awesome jewelry puzzles using just paper! The world is your oyster...
Epic jewelry puzzle available in the Escape From Jigsaw Island escape room party kit
Computer keyboard from The Disappearance of Mr. George mystery escape room party kit
Computer keyboards offer an infinite amount of cipher options. Use a standard QWERTY layout and create your very own alternative symbol or picture scheme that players must follow to decrypt your secret message. Choose icons that make sense for your room’s narrative and create mysterious messages that are thought provoking and meaningful. Hint: Don’t use smile emojis to tell players that flesh eating zombies are hiding in the closet. Also! Don't assume all players have memorized the QWERTY layout so provide another keyboard in your room that players can use as a reference point.
Remember creating your own language as a kid? Rediscover your inner child by creating a new language for your escape room! Your new language can be used to create puzzles or give out hints. Imagine players having to say hilarious sentences like “Poo poo pah ka” in order to get help for the next puzzle. (They are in the land of Poopootopia after all). Hide a small dictionary or decipher in your room that tells players how to translate the language. You can spend anywhere from 20 minutes to 20 hours creating your very own dictionary (I recommend the first one).
The language of true ladies and gentlemen.
Masks are the epitome of mystery and intrigue. Who doesn't love Phantom of the Opera or the Mask of Zorro? Get one with missing eyes so that you can use the holes as a decryption tool. If you don’t want to buy a real one, just print one from the hundreds available online and cut out the eyes yourself. Give players a reference point or clue on how to wear or place the mask in the game. Once the mask is placed correctly, a magical clue will appear to unlock the next combo!
Don't let the shiny mask distract from what's really important here. The code!!!!
Searching for cheap escape room props that can double as puzzles? Napkins are your solution! Heck, grab some free ones on your next fast food run. Create a treasure map, folding puzzle, cipher or all of the above! Napkins can also be used as puzzle pieces to create larger pictures or diagrams that help players advance in a room. Lay them around your room as props and make sure no one blows their nose in one! This puzzle idea has been sponsored by napkin companies around the globe :)
Hmmm..I wonder what that question mark could mean?
Commercial escape rooms generally integrate only three of your five senses: sight, hearing, and touch. Make your room better than theirs by including smell or taste! Cut a piece of lemon and put into a box with small holes. The players won’t be able to see the lemon, but they will surely be able smell it! Put the boxed lemon next to a combination lock with 5 letters. The code to open the lock is L-E-M-O-N. Other items that have identifiable smells are coffee beans, oranges, roses and skunks (but don’t use the last one).
Why does this box smell like Pine-sol?
Paperclips are soooo boring. Psych! They’re awesome! And cheap! Use them in your next escape room as a fun hands on puzzle. Bolt a clear narrow container to a table, insert a key with a keychain inside, and set several paperclips nearby. Players will need to use their wits and fine motor skills in order to create a long hook and retrieve the key. Wanna be an evil game master? Place a bunch of fakes keys in your jar so that players will have to perform the tricky deed multiple times before they can celebrate victory!
Easy does it. Don't drop the key!
Hmm...after sequencing these coins by year it looks like we have a secret word!
Gotta a bunch of change just laying around? Coins offer a HUGE variety of puzzle options for DIY escape room designers. Players can sequence them by year or size to spell a word. You can also add their values to get a three or four digit combination to a lock. Hide coins all together in a bag or separate them around the room to encourage team work. Be creative with where you hide the coins! Purses, wallets, couches, pockets, and gumball machines are all good hiding spots! Just remember to fill your machine with yummy gum :)
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Out of this World
Add personality and wonder to your room by picking up some ancient looking goodies from your local thrift shop. Pictures, statues, coins, trinkets, jewelry, old soda bottles, weird dishes and ugly vases are all fun props that can also double as puzzles. Use a word from an object as a password or have people count something in a picture to create a numeric code. Be careful not to pick something that has too many words or numbers as it may be too distracting (a “red herring” which is bad!!) Make sure you also leave a clue as to how the relics connect to a specific combination or key code in the room.
These goodies were just $10 at a thrift store. The 3 horses could represent the number 3 in a numeric lock.
Classic playing cards are popular in escape rooms because the they have infinite puzzle possibilities! Grab a full deck and remove one numbered card from each of the four suits: hearts, spades, diamonds, and clubs. Set the deck (now 48 cards instead of 52) in your room as a prop. Players will need to be observant and figure out which numbers are missing from the deck in order to crack the code. You can also do the opposite of this puzzle by simply hiding the four removed cards in your room and not using the rest of the deck.
Looks like the 4 digit combination here is 6-7-2-3. Would anyone like to play Go Fish?
Younger players will love you to death! Toys make colorful, fun, and hands on puzzles that are sure to delight people of all ages (yes, even you grandma!). Choose multi-piece toys that create a specific sequence (like those cool alphabet puzzles) or naturally stack (like those even cooler Rock-A-Stacks). Place lettered stickers on each piece of the toy so that once it is put together a secret word or numeric code will be revealed. Hide pieces of the toy all together in a toy box or spread around the room in different nooks an crannies.
Good thing that O is there or this puzzle would be very inappropriate.
Can you figure out the 3 digit code?
Looking for a fun prop and puzzle at the same time?! It's yours! Grab an umbrella (or buy one for $2 at your local thrift stop) and open it up. Place numbered stickers or symbols on each of the inside triangles and put a secret code on the handle that needs to be deciphered. If your umbrella is just one color then simply make the numbers inside all different colors so that player can distinguish between the inside triangles. Now it's time to place the closed umbrella in your room as a prop and anxiously wait for your puzzle to unfold!
Get your mad scientist on with periodic tables! Spelling secret words or combos with element symbols is a super cool room puzzle that will nerdify your friends AND make your chemistry teacher proud. Simply tape symbols onto some plastic (or glass if you don't have butter fingers) test tubes or beakers and hide them in your room. Players will need to brilliantly unscramble the tubes in order crack the code. Take a look at the periodic table to see what words YOU can cook up!
I wonder what happens if you mix these together :)
$635 = CODE 635. If only it was real.
Who doesn’t like playing with money? Stuff a wallet, purse, suit case, or sock with some fake cash (or real if you’re loaded) and stick it in the room as a prop. You can also splatter some of the bills with fake blood if your playing up the whole "Kill For The Money" storyline. Players will need to find, retrieve, and count up all of the cash in order to figure out the grand total and a numeric code to open the safe. Include a dollar sign on the lock to help players make a connection between the cash and combo and just remember....money doesn't buy happiness (usually).
Okay, so we definitely cheated on this dictionary entry, but give us break! X is a hard letter to work with! What’s not hard though is having an epic Christmas escape room! Ornaments, trees, lights, garland, and elves are just tip of the North Pole when it comes to prop and puzzle options. Go all out with a fully decorated tree, stockings, lights, and the smell of hot cocoa in the air! Hide secret words amongst the tree's decorations or put numbers on stockings and sneakily arrange them on your fireplace. It's truly the most wonderful time of the year!
Why can't it always be Christmas?
After assembling the yin-yangs you can see that the code is 3564!
Infuse some peace and balance into your room with some slick looking yin yangs. With a little love, these well known symbols can be used as a fun puzzle to uncover a secret code. Simply print two or more different colored yin yangs, write a single digit number inside each circle and cut them in half. Give a visual clue that shows how the symbols should be ordered and placed. Once the yin yangs are assembled and positioned correctly a 4 digit code will magically appear! The web is loaded with hundreds of yin-yangs that will please your heart and soul.
Got super imaginative and seasoned players? Make your puzzle room party truly stand out by separating players into zones at the beginning of the game. Invisible force fields, prison cells, and lava moats are all epic reasons for separating people. Push players to solve a puzzle or two in a small group before they reconnect with the rest of the team. It will challenge them and make them appreciate their fellow puzzlers more once they reunite! Need inspiration for you zones? Just ask your kids how to play the floor is lava.
Wow! So many adventures to choose from!
BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE! these escape kits are packed with tons of epic puzzles.
Out of this World