How to make your own DIY escape room at home

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Escape rooms are such good fun but they can be expensive. So, why not set up your own DIY version at home? You can make adult versions or tame it down for the kids to enjoy.  It’s a great way to entertain guests, perfect for birthday parties, or might just be useful for keeping the kids busy on a rainy weekend!

Just make up a story or problem to set the scene, and let the fun commence! It can be a great way to get the little ones learning too – without them realising it! 

There are lots of great apps, websites and board games versions to help with the clues. But, mix these with traditional escape room hunts and props to make it much more interactive and competitive!

The best way to set up easy props is to use what you have at home, raid the garage or loft, and buy a few bits cheaply from charity shops if need be. Here are some simple DIY escape room ideas to get you started…

  • Cut out from an old book to hide clues in the centre – pop to a charity shop if need be to pick up a book for pennies.  You could also underline certain words or page numbers, or tuck clues, postcards, receipts or photos into the pages.

DIY escape room ideas, inside book


  • Blue-tac clues to the underside of furniture, such as the dining table or under a bed, to make the hunt trickier.


  • Buy a UV pen and light to write clues that can only be seen in the dark.


  • Put padlocks onto suitcases or boxes, and hide keys or combinations.

DIY escape room ideas, padlocks


  • Take batteries out of clocks and set them to specific times which will provide a code.


  • Print a miniature clue that can only be seen with a magnifying glass.


  • If you are doing your own puzzles, a cipher disk is a great prop and they’re less than 3 quid on Etsy! Or, make your own with some card and a split pin.
DIY escape room ideas, cipher disk


  • Make a false bottom to a box with another clue or object hidden underneath it.


  • Remove batteries from objects, such as a torch, and hide objects inside.


  • Hide sections of a map which, when put together, will reveal some needed information.

DIY escape room ideas, map


  • Halve a combination or write it backwards so that a mirror is needed to make sense of it.


  • Make a diary and leave out an important page which must be located elsewhere.


  • Players have to follow a tale of a king, queen, knights on horses and soldiers. The story has clues on how to place chess pieces on the board in order to solve the puzzle.

DIY escape room ideas, chess


  • Write an invisible message on a mirror (written with soap) which can be revealed when players breathe on it.


  • Group objects where one object clearly does not fit within a group of different things – that is the needed item.


  • Write messages in morse code and hide a morse code sheet somewhere in the room.

DIY escape room ideas, morse code


  • Write maths problems to solve – the operator symbols (add / subtract / divide / multiply) must be found so that players know what to do with the numbers.


  •  Players have to test liquid samples with universal indicator paper, e.g. water, laundry detergent and lemon juice. The colours on indicator paper are the solution to the puzzle. You can find these for about a quid on Amazon!


  • Place a calendar on the wall with specific dates missing or completed.

DIY escape room ideas, calendar


  • Place a full mug on a table with a dark drink inside, then a message or object can be hidden within!


  • Leave scales in the room where an object must be weighed and the weight provides a combination.


  • Leave coins in a money box where the coins, or their value, provide a combination.

DIY escape room ideas, clues


  • Handcuff two players together and hide the key – they’ll be slowed down until they locate it.


  • Make your own decoder glasses so a message can only be seen through the glasses.


  • Hide a pack of cards, with some missing, the missing cards will be the solution.

DIY escape room ideas, pack of cards


  • Hide numbers or letters within a picture, or hide a piece of paper behind a painting or photo.


  • Put items or codes into the pockets of clothing in a wardrobe.


  • Leave a camera out where a clue is in a photo.


You can find some great puzzles at Escape Team and download the app to get the clues, storyline, timer and combination screen – just stream this to your TV. Each mission is only a quid; such good value for money! Alternatively, you can play without the app and print the puzzles for free. These sorts of resources are fab – just combine them with your own props to set the scene. Have fun!

Looking for ways to entertain the family this Christmas? Check out these articles:

Christmas Movies for Kids – 15 of the best family-friendly Christmas movies!

What is a December Box? Children’s Christmas activity ideas (with FREE printables!)

Cheap children’s Christmas activity ideas: FREE printable Activity Advent Calendar!

The 15 best Christmas board games – some family-friendly and some just for the adults!

FREE, printable family trivia Christmas quiz night – Adults vs Kids


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