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How to Design an Escape Room at Home

Hello fellow adventurers! Welcome back to the Arcadian: the premier blog about all things for Calgary escape rooms. Today we are gonna teach you how to make an escape room at home. Birthday parties, bachelorette/bachelor parties, Christmas – you name it! These tips will help you make an unforgettable experience at home for friends and family!

A common question we have from a lot of people is how can they design escape rooms at home. Just a bit of history for you all – that is actually how we started! Two brothers wanted to create a cool bachelor party for their friend that wasn’t a typical bachelor party. Together, they designed a scavenger hunt escape room for the group to play. The event was spread across Calgary, and the bachelor party was split into two teams, racing to the finish! The day was filled with laughter, cars breaking down, confused waitresses, but best of all it was full of unforgettable memories. Now let us help you design your very own experience for the special people around you!

Step 1: Planning

The beauty of creating these puzzles and adventures at home is that you can cater them to the people around you. Also, you only need a puzzle to work once, so you can create destructible puzzles which are rarely seen in an escape room. Start by choosing a theme. It could be pirate themed, a heist, National Treasure – your imagination is the limit. You can choose any theme but we suggest choosing one that is most likely to resonate with your group.

Once you have a theme, you can start planning out locations. Our bachelor escape room experience was across Calgary, but if you are planning this for a kids party you might want to pick a smaller and safer location, such as a local park or a backyard / house. If you choose private businesses as a location be sure to contact them beforehand so they know what you’re up to! If you want to have them all work on it at the dinner table you can do that too. The beauty
of this is it is all up to you how big this adventure room experience is!

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Plan your event on paper first

One of the most important parts of planning is planning your end. For our group we had an ending similar to National Treasure, where once the groups had completed their tasks they would be led back to the starting location at a house. Once there, they had to say a phrase and the garage door would open showing a horde of treasure and goodies for everyone to take home! This was done simply by having one of us waiting in the garage and listening for the correct phrase, and once they said it we simply opened the door! Be sure to choose an end that is special to your group, whether that be back at the start, a special place, or with a special surprise or prize.


Step 2: Puzzles

This is one of the hardest parts for a lot of people. Creating fun puzzles is hard, but making puzzles that resonate with your group can be even harder. We suggest sticking to some easy puzzles to start – here are three ideas to get you started.

Using a scavenger hunt style map is an easy way for your players to keep track of their progress and keep them on the right trail. Your map could point to particular locations that your group has to visit, solve puzzles at, and retrieve a clue or item from. Your map could leave out the names
of specific places, and instead part of every puzzle is figuring out where to go next, until they reach the final location.

Riddles are readily available online for any theme or topic, and are a common enough puzzle that can be adjusted for any age or difficulty. The answer to the riddle could be a clue to the next location, where your group can find a hidden clue, or you can use that word as a part of a bigger puzzle.

Code puzzles come in a variety of forms – ciphers, unscrambling words or numbers, putting together puzzle pieces are all approachable ways to make fun puzzles for your players. Some of your code puzzles could be individual parts of your escape room experience, or players may collect a component of a code over the course of the whole adventure to solve at the end!

Locks can be a key component to your puzzles, especially if your puzzles are in a public place where you may not want strangers opening your boxes. School directional or combination locks, bike locks, or key locks are all cheap and easy to obtain locks. If you need more ideas for different types of puzzles, and different types of locks, check out our previous two articles on puzzles and locks.

Step 3: Creating Props

Prop creation for escape rooms at home is actually pretty straightforward – you won’t need anything crazy except for some paper, a couple shoeboxes, paint or coloured pencils, and your imagination! Focus on making the end of the event the most immersive part; the steps and puzzles to get there can be simply made on some paper and hidden around your chosen areas.

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Hidden Compartment in a Book

If you have a printer, you can use free services like Krita to help make your puzzle clues fancier! YouTube is your best friend when it comes to getting the most out of material around your house, so make sure you explore the maker-space and search for people who make things close to your theme! When it comes to boxes to hide clues in we suggest tool boxes or tackle boxes as they usually have a loop that you can use to lock without having to use extra hardware.

Step 4: Complete the Escape Room at Home!

The day has come to host your at home escape room! You need to make sure you have a plan for the day: where you are placing clues, a map so your players know where to go if they are travelling by car, and make sure your ending is all ready to go! It is possible to run this escape room as an individual, but having a friend or two to help you place props and clues and to be waiting at the end point is a great way to reduce stress and make sure things are in order. A few
more things for you to consider are how you will stay in touch with your group(s) if you want to, how you will or won’t provide hints, and outlining rules that your group should follow to stay on track and keep it a safe and fun experience.

Congratulations, you have all the knowledge you need to go forth and create your own escape room adventure! Heed our advice, pick a great group of friends, and enjoy watching them have a great escape room experience!

Arcadia Adventures Escape Room is Calgary’s premier escape room experience. Our real-life Calgary escape room is an excellent way to have fun, solve puzzles, and improve your team-building skills. Our rooms can host parties, small groups, families, couples, and is great as a team-building activity for Calgary businesses. Book your spot at our one of our Calgary escape rooms online or by contacting us on 587-356-0440.

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