Have you ever been to an escape room? They are a fun way to spend an hour with friends- solving puzzles, unlocking boxes, going through secret doors. The only down fall is the price to play. I knew all of my friends would love an escape room but wouldn't like to pay the hefty price for going. So I decided to make my own in my house to play at my New Year's Eve party.
Escape rooms are known for being family-friendly and a fun team building exercise. It's just fun to do in general.
What amazed me the most about the escape rooms was the fact that almost all the props were everyday items you would find in your own home. It was just a cleverly-planned puzzle using common items. That's where I thought that it was very do-able in your own home! Follow my instructable to see how to make your very own escape room. This is a guide and of course you can sub out different puzzles as you see fit.
Step 1: A Plan
The first and hardest part is coming up with a plan. It is good to make the room themed but not so themed that trivia is required to undo locks. This room is going to be themed after Nancy and Barb's friendship in Stranger things. I am not making it to where you have to have seen Strangers Things in order to play the game.
The timeframe is in the 80's so I tried to include little props that had to do with the 80's where I could.
You can print out the same story line I used in the room for my guests.
Step 2: Map It Out
Actually draw out the room you want to use and the furniture you want to use in the room. You may have to clear out some unnecessary furniture and props to only include exactly what you want to use. Keep in mind some props are just to throw people off and not actually a clue.
Here I am using a little room in my basement with a closet and no windows.
Step 3: Side Notes
Never actually lock your guests in a room. Make it where they can get out in case of an emergency!
- Think about the number of people you want to go in at a time. Two was the perfect number for this room.
- Figure out the time you will want on your timer. Thirty minutes worked well for this room.
- As a side note think about the elements you want to include. Electronic? Magnetic? UV reveal?
Step 4: Monitoring
Think about how you want to monitor your guests.
You want to monitor them in case they get stuck on something. Or they are doing something they aren't supposed to be doing. You can provide help with a two-way communication of some sort.
Baby monitors or Skype with 2 devices are the easiest ways.
Step 5: Bare Bones
Place your furniture like you have in your drawing and gather up the boxes/locks/keys you'll need to use.
If you're copying this layout exactly, I used:
2) Plastic tool boxes with padlock hole
1) Small Luggage lock and key
2) 4 # padlocks
1) 4 letter padlock
1) Medium duty key'ed padlock
1) Medium Wooden Box with hasp
2) Small wooden boxes with hasps
1) Letter board
1) Wall sign
4) Printed photos
1) UV flashlight with batteries
1) Timer - This can be an egg timer, a phone on the wall, a stop watch, etc.
Step 6: Introduce
Introduce your guests to the room. Explain the rules and their main objective. Reassure them they will not be locked in for real. Let them know some things are only props but it's up to them to decide which items will help them escape.
Step 7: Explanation Step-By-Step - for You
Here is a walk-through of how this room works.
I planned it as two levels. 1) to find the UV flashlight and 2) to find the batteries for the flashlight. When the guests walk in, it will look pretty ordinary until they start opening drawers and looking under the bed. Some items are out in the open such as the clock on the wall, a photo in a frame and the backwards letters "ETAL."
Once they start noticing some clues it will take them deeper into the puzzle.
One good place to start is the clock. It has the time "7:51". Tape the back of the clock so they don't try to change the time and also understand that maybe it is at that time for a reason. This number 751 corresponds with a lock that is on a tool box on a shelf in plain sight.
The lock will open a box that has a recorded Morse code message. It will be a 4 digit code and they can use the code under the yoga mat to decipher it.
Step 8: Getting to the Flashlight
The 4 Digit code that they got from the Morse code numbers, will open a 4 digit lock combination. There are actually two 4 digit combinations in the room but they will discover it will work for one.
Here, that is a wooden box that has a tape case of Gloria Estefan's. Inside the case is a key for a padlock.
This padlock goes to a box in the green dresser. Inside that locked box is the flashlight!
But they will figure out that it doesn't do them much good with out the batteries.
Step 9: Getting to the Batteries
To get to the batteries they will need to first find a little luggage key that is held in a magnetic box on the underside of a metal chair. That opens up a little wooden box in the closet.
That box contains a simple decoder for letters into numbers. Hmm where is there letters that are easy to see? The "ETAL" sign! It is made with black and white paper and on the wall backwards but if you see it in the mirror it says "LATE" the way it's supposed to. They can probably figure that out but it was a little more fun than just writing "LATE."
The guests will find that each number equals the digits for another 4 digit lock.
Step 10: Getting to the Batteries Still...
The Decoder got them to a wooden box with a photo .
They also see a photo out in the open in a frame. They will look in the closet to find a photo in a pocket and a photo between book pages. There are now four photos. And if they look closely, they'll see that there are arrows on the photos. Arrange the photos by the dates written on the backs and there is your combination lock sequence for the directional lock!
Step 11: Putting the Flashlight and Batteries Together
Once your guests get the directional lock figured out, they will have the batteries. Put them together and you get a UV flashlight. They will look around to see what could be UV triggered in the room and they'll come to the board in the closet. Upon close inspection, they'll see that certain letters glow!
It's easy to make the UV ink. Just drain out a highlighter core in a couple teaspoons of warm water and use it as a UV paint (wear gloves- it's messy). Reapply until you get the glow you want and keep checking your work with the UV flashlight as you paint. It dries nearly invisible except for when the UV light hits it.
Step 12: The Breakout!
I used a 4 letter lock that corresponded with the UV letters from the board. My letters were "L," "O," "S," "T."
The "lock" is just a brass hasp that has been attached using Command Velcro strips.
You will probably hear cheering once they break out!
Participated in the
Design For Kids Challenge