DIY Escape Rooms: How To and Tips

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DIY escape rooms are escape games that you can recreate at home or in an event space of choice. These games allow you to transform any room into an escape challenge. These DIY challenges can take the form of a pre-made kit or a set of common escape room themes and puzzles that you can create from scratch. DIY escape rooms allow you to enjoy the fun and thrill of an escape room from the comfort of your home or office

This option is the opposite of using an escape room company, and is similar to VR escape games and iPad escape rooms.

In this article, we will discuss the following

  • DIY escape rooms
  • DIY puzzle ideas
  • DIY escape game themes
  • DIY escape room tips

Here we go!

DIY Escape Rooms

Contrary to what most folks believe, it is possible to create a DIY escape room from the comfort of your home. The important aspects of the game are a fascinating storyline, creative puzzles, and a fun atmosphere. A DIY escape room is very easy to assemble. Considering there are escape room kits available for DIY escape rooms, you could easily host an at-home escape game.

DIY escape rooms are fun because they are versatile and great for most events. This style of game is suitable for birthday parties for kids or adults, corporate events, family game sessions, and sleepovers. One of the major advantages of DIY escape rooms is that you can play the game at your own pace since a timer does not limit you. These homemade challenges ensure entertainment for players.

You need to know and understand the major components of a DIY escape room to create an impressive challenge. A DIY escape room, just like every other form of an escape room, consists of two main parts:

1. Storyline

Whether creating a DIY escape room idea for adults or kids, every escape room follows a storyline. The storyline provides the backdrop for the theme and puzzle design. You can find several DIY escape room storylines and themes to choose, and are not limited to any distinct style of narrative. You can play with ideas and switch things up by customizing the storyline to suit your preferences.

Thankfully, many escape room kits come with different storylines and themes to help you concoct the perfect plot. Examples of storylines or themes include Jumanji, Dracula, Titanic, and the Wizard’s Workshop.

2. Puzzles

It is safe to say that without puzzles, there is no escape room. The main purpose of playing escape rooms is to solve puzzles within a limited time. Escape room puzzles come in a wide variety and forms. Your DIY escape room puzzle could be in the form of images or cryptic codes, all carefully hidden to blend with the background. Moving through the different levels and eventually escaping the room is impossible without escape room puzzles. Whether you are new to game design or an experienced pro, several DIY escape room puzzle ideas are available to incorporate into your next at-home escape room.

DIY Puzzle Ideas

Although creating DIY escape rooms can be fun, you will still need to ensure you create unique puzzles that will not bore your guests. Fortunately, you can find many DIY escape room puzzle ideas to save time and help you organize the perfect activity. You can even use common items or objects at home to design these puzzles. Please look at the following list of DIY puzzle ideas you can try.

1. Words on paper

Writing words on paper is easily one of the oldest and most common forms of escape room puzzles. If you are creating a DIY escape room for kids, then this option is better for your young players. You can write or draw on paper and hide the words among the props, tasking your players to find the clues before the time is up. However, you can use colored papers that are easy to find, without necessarily standing out. Words or images on paper puzzles are very easy to create and do not require professional expertise.

2. Words on glass

Another common puzzle idea is writing clues on glassy surfaces like a mirror or window. All you need to do is write words on the surface, then place clues that will lead players to uncover the hidden message by blowing on it or adding moisture. You can even use a garment steamer as a clue, so players can eventually use the steamer to reveal the message on the glass.

3. Jigsaw puzzles

Sometimes, getting a box of jigsaw puzzles for your DIY escape room can be a simple shortcut to game design. You can instruct players to arrange the jigsaw puzzle to reveal the next clue. Players can even place pieces of a torn letter or newspaper page together to show the hint to the next level.

4. Using invisible ink

If your DIY escape room has a mystery theme, then writing messages with invisible ink is a great way to increase the thrill of the game. You do not have to go about trying to purchase invisible ink. Instead, you can create your ink by using lemon juice and water. When using this puzzle, ensure you include a flashlight, candlelight, or lamp with which players can use to decipher the message. You should also ensure that the writings are legible when players eventually discover them.

5. Hiding clues in a book or vase

Books and vases are great places to hide escape room puzzles from unsuspecting players. You can hide your clue in a vase and fill it with different materials. If you want to hide your clues in a book, use a knife to create a hole in the middle of the pages.

6. Using balloons

One of the most unsuspecting places to hide clues in a DIY escape room is inside a balloon. You can simply slip your clue into the balloon and inflate it. You can supply a hint or even a riddle the players need to solve before popping and revealing the clue hidden in the balloons. Balloons are great for DIY escape rooms, especially if hosted at a birthday, carnival, or bachelor or bachelorette party.

7. Locks and scissors

Another commonly used puzzle idea is padlocking a pair of scissors which is useful to advance to the next stage. Players need to unlock the padlock holding the scissors shut by solving a series of puzzles. After completing the task successfully, players can use the scissors to cut a future clue.

8. Write messages in a foreign language

If you are looking to switch the event up a notch, then you can choose to write a message in a foreign language, especially if your guests are from different countries. Be sure to provide a multilingual dictionary and highlight clues that will help players translate the message easily without wasting time. To improve the game experience, you can create another puzzle containing the answer’s page number. Players must then play the game to discover the number and successfully translate the message.

9. Hide clues in a locket

Lockets are great places to hide escape room clues. You can place a picture, folded paper, and even a tiny key in a locket. You do not necessarily need to use your valuable locket, since you can buy one at an affordable price on most online shopping sites. You can provide hints that will lead your players to a jewelry box or even directly to the locket to discover the hidden clue and solve their puzzles.

10. Hide items alongside the props.

When creating DIY escape rooms, you would be surprised to discover that there are millions of places you can hide clues. From cereal boxes and popsicle sticks to shoes, pockets of coats, picture frames, and even the bookshelf, there is an endless list of hiding places for escape room clues.

Best DIY Escape Room Themes

Finding fascinating themes for your DIY escape room can sometimes be quite difficult. When creating a DIY escape room, you need to have a theme that will capture your players’ attention and have them playing without getting bored. This list can give you guidance on the best DIY escape room themes.

1. Mystery or Investigative Theme

A mystery or investigative theme is perfect if you need a great theme when planning DIY escape room ideas for adults. Your theme could come off a detective solving murder cases or one where you have to save yourself from a dangerous criminal on the loose. You can choose to customize the game and come up with your unique storyline based on the theme.

2. Zombie Apocalypse

A good zombie horror can keep the adrenaline pumping. You can switch things up in your DIY escape room by creating one based on a zombie apocalypse. Players need to get an antidote that can stop the virus outbreak or get eaten by the zombies.

3. Bank or Museum Heist

Bank or museum heists are another common DIY escape room theme. Here, players must steal a certain amount of money or an artwork from a highly secured bank and leave without being caught. You can create puzzles, props, and clues from the objects in your home or an escape room kit.

4. Treasure Hunt

Perhaps the most appropriate DIY escape room idea for kids, treasure hunts are fun and exciting for young players. You can design the game so that they have to help a captain hunt for hidden treasures on the map. You can also add a bit of suspense or increase the difficulty level if you target an older audience.

5. Haunted Houses

You can recreate a haunted house right in your home as a DIY escape room. Players would have to deal with a ghost to escape successfully or be possessed. Your haunted house does not have to be supernatural-based. Instead, you could also design the game in a way that players have to escape from a crazed serial killer.

6. Prison Breaks

Prison breaks are undoubtedly one of the most common escape room themes. If you are a huge fan of the prison break series, then you can create a DIY escape room based on this theme and task players with escaping jail. Players need to solve their puzzles within the set time to escape successfully or be caught.

DIY Escape Room Tips

Creating a DIY escape room is fun but requires some level of expertise and knowledge of the game to set up a compelling escape room. You may not necessarily set up the perfect DIY escape room on the first try. Thankfully, several guides and tips are available to ensure your DIY escape room is successful.

1. Understand the players

One common mistake many DIY escape room creators make is failing to know and understand the target audience. DIY escape room ideas for adults are very much different from DIY escape room ideas for kids. You should determine the age range of your players and their cognitive or problem-solving skills before choosing a theme.

2. Select a good theme

A boring game will leave players disinterested. You can play with several theme ideas when creating a DIY escape room. Whether players must be a detective, go on a jungle or safari trip, take out zombies, or even go on a bank heist, make sure your DIY escape room storyline is fascinating. The theme and storyline should be compelling enough to immerse players in the game for the time limit. You can pick inspiration from your favorite book, movie, or unique idea. However, the theme must also be challenging while still being adventurous.

3. Create your puzzles and clues

Creating a series of puzzles and clues from a basic storyline can be very daunting. If you need help with DIY escape room puzzle ideas and hints, then there are thousands of these tips available online. You can go on sites like Pinterest and discover countless puzzle ideas in sync with your DIY escape room theme. Creating props and clues is quite easy, and you can even use common items in your home.

4. Use an escape room kit

Escape room kits are printable packages containing all resources needed to create an at-home escape room. A typical kit includes game templates, puzzles, clues, setup guides, and even background music. If you are pressed for time and need to create a DIY escape room as quickly as possible, use an escape room kit. Escape room kits are time-saving and very easy to access and download. If you plan a DIY escape room idea for kids or adults, then you can find suitable escape room kits to match your audience.

5. Test your game

Sometimes, your escape room idea may make sense to you but confusing to your players. Before the game day, you can test the game with your family or a couple of friends to ensure it is easy to understand and play. It would be extremely awkward if your players have no idea of the moves to make when playing your DIY escape room.


DIY escape rooms are easy to create, contrary to what many folks might think. Although organizing escape rooms requires a level of intellectual skills, they are not as hard as you might think. You have to have basic knowledge of the game, choose a great theme, design puzzles for the theme, and you are good to go! You can find countless resources and escape room kits online to help you set up your DIY escape room in minutes. Following the tips in this article, you can set up a DIY escape room like a professional game master.

Next, check out this guide to escape room board games, and the best escape room movies.

FAQ: DIY Escape Rooms

Here are some frequently asked questions on DIY escape rooms.

What are DIY escape rooms?

DIY escape rooms, or Do-It-Yourself escape rooms, are also called at-home escape rooms. As the name implies, these are escape rooms you can create independently from the comfort of your home.

How do you build DIY escape rooms?

Building DIY escape rooms is quite easy. You have to choose a suitable theme, design escape room puzzles and clues, set up your props, and invite your players to play. You can even make use of an escape room kit as a guide to help you build the perfect escape room.

What are some good ideas for DIY escape rooms?

Some good ideas for DIY escape rooms include a lock and scissors, writing a message in invisible ink, and hiding clues in a balloon, bookshelf, or cupboard. You could also get some jigsaw puzzles, create a maze or write on glass. If you need more inspiration, several ideas are available online to help you.