How to host an escape game at home

Find out more about escape games, why they make for a great and original home party and how to host one.

Introducing escape games

Escape games are usually played as a 60 minute race to escape or solve case as you and team are asked to solve multiple puzzles before the time ends. They reward creative thinking and teamwork. Many dedicated escape rooms in town make for a great day out with friends. And a growing number of great home games are introducing new creatives ways to play at home. It is a truly global phenomenon.

But what makes them so popular for adults and children alike in the first place ? Well, a good escape game not only takes you on an adventure but pushes you to think out of the box. And overcoming challenges as a team gives you a unique buzz when you finally solve the game. 

But they are quite addictive : whether you are competitive, love team moments and the countdown thrill, or enjoy creative thinking, try one and you will know what I mean. You have been warned.

Can you play an escape game at home ?

Yes, absolutely. It makes for an original and fun home activity that can really mirror the excitement of the escape rooms. Best of all, a good escape game can be a great birthday party theme : super original and really fun for kids without breaking the bank (by the way, when did birthday parties ever get so expensive ?). I did it a few times for my littles ones and it was a resounding success each time. They are also a great idea for playdates or family get-togethers.  You would be surprised how quickly all the children (and adults) are engaged in the game the minute the timer goes.

Easy steps to prepare an escape game at home 

The good news is the preparation is usually quite light touch. Usually you have to :

  • Print or buy relevant home escape game packs. When playing with children, ensure they are designed for the right ages to avoid any frustrations.
  • Decide which adult will run the game (let's assume it is you as you are reading this). It is your mission to ensure everyone is having fun whilst solving the clues. The best games have clear guides and tips which you can pick as the game unfolds.
  • Read the set-up : the best games usually take no more than 20 minutes and involve understanding the story, hiding a few things and sorting out the relevant bits of clues.
  • Define your play area : beyond the table where the players will spend time sitting to solve clues, be very clear on which parts of your home the players can go for the game. As an example it can be just around the table or in 2 rooms as you have a few hidden objects. Just be very clear on what is offlimit from the start so you don't have to worry about snooping eyes or children playing around delicate objects.

5 extra tips for an immersive escape game

  1. Send invitations to remember : make it fun, mysterious and personal to your guests. Nothing like a nice invitation to get your guests in the mood before it even starts. You can even use some great templates for the occasion so you keep to the theme.

  2. Setting the right mood : prepare a playlist that can make the game more immersive and decorate the play area according to the theme of the adventure. Dressing up is another fun way of getting the mood going. Lighting and props can also be great at adding magic : for example re-using your christmas lights inside a chest as decoration or using a real padlock to hid reveal secret message. Be creative.

  3. Get a countdown going : add some fun and time pressure. Make it visible to all players at all times so they can check for themselves and call out every 10 minutes. Timers on phones or wall clocks are great.

  4. Be flexible and have fun : as a gamemaster, you can decide to help out players if they are stuck by giving them more clues to help them out. Above all, make sure everyone is included and having fun. Feel free to adapt the story to fit your guests and look out for the youngest. I find giving them a job early on is a great way to make them feel special and not frustrated if the elders are solving things too fast. For example, it could be to watch the clock and call out time every ten minutes, confirm the final answer to the gamemaster or try and solve the easier parts of puzzles on their own.

  5. Celebrate the achievement : make sure the final puzzle gets appropriately rewarded with a big cheer.  Print out awards, wear fun props and get a selfie of every team member. Now would be the perfect time to start eating that birthday cake for example.

Extra tip for large parties so everyone gets involved : create teams of 4 max giving each team a full game pack and make the teams race each other.

So where to start

Finally, there are lots of different escape games for all ages with relevant themes so choose carefully depending on the players. It is important to have age appropriate puzzles. You could try our family friendly Case of Auntie's Manor as a great first place to start for 8 to 10 year olds and family. It includes everything you need to get going with first timers in mind: clear set-up guide, a game cheat sheet as well as immersive sound-track and timer, invitations, props and award.

Your time starts now ...

Keep on playing.