So my family discovered escape rooms a few years ago and let’s just say we are a bit addicted. When we take a vacation we check if there are escape rooms in the area before we go. It’s become a thing.
Last Christmas I was thrown the challenge of, “Hey, you’re good at puzzles and writing why don’t you make an escape room challenge for us to play?”
YES! I can do that! Then I started working on it and it and wow was it tough but it turned out great. Now the family wants more.
I did another escape room challenge for my sister’s surprise baby shower by locking them out of the party in my mud room. It was a blast and easier to do this time around.
This Christmas I’m at it again! So instead of giving away my clues (which I’m still working on, no hints here sister) I want to give you my steps for making your own custom escape room challenge.
- Pick a game goal. Do you need to break into something or break out of a room? Think of a plausible story to build around your goal. This year, I’m hosting our challenge in a greenhouse and it’s themed around Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny. Last year, the Grinch stole all the Christmas candy and locked it in a box. Get creative with this part. Once you have a creative vision you can tailor your game around it.
- Examine your location. I like to use elements already available in the room. The more casual the harder the game play will be. Try to use a room no one is overly familiar with otherwise your clues will stick out to them. For example, Last year I bought empty ornaments and hid clues inside them, then hung them on the Christmas tree.
- Decide on your methods. I like to use a combination of visual clues, a good story line, and different types of locks. Visit your local dollar store and see what’s available. Check online or in books for more ideas to supplement your own genius.
- Once you have your codes you can build your clues around them. If you splurge and get codes you can reset then great but I like the challenge of a code I have to work around. For example, I used a globe’s longitude and latitude as a clue for one of my locks.
- Make your materials. There is always a level of crafting needed with these games. Whether it’s setting up a paper trail or rigging up physical clue sets you’ll have some leg work. Canva is a great free resource for creating your paper material.
- TEST EVERYTHING. Make sure it works before you invite everyone over. Nothing can wreck a game faster than a bad clue or dead end. Although if your family is as adapt at these challenge as mine a few red herrings might not be a bad idea.
At this point you should be able to host your game. Have clues ready in case they get stuck. It’s such a joy to watch each family member’s talents shine in their own way as they solve the puzzles.
I’m looking to make this challenge even better than the last ones. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Does your family have any unique traditions for the holidays?