If you have ever visited an escape room, you know the heart-pounding excitement of working with a team of friends to solve puzzles, interpret codes and clues, and open locks before the timer goes off. Escape room birthday parties work great for adults, but you can also create an awesome escape room birthday party for older kids or teens. After all, what kid wouldn’t love a hands-on clue-solving and code-breaking challenge?
Putting together an escape room birthday party does take a little effort because you want to develop a storyline, build clues and challenges into the story for the guests to solve, and set a game-winning goal. It’s not quite as simple as putting up a few balloons and making cupcakes!
But it is one of the most memorable and enjoyable kinds of parties to throw for kids, teens, or adults because this party offers everyone an interactive experience.
Escape Room Birthday Party Themes for Kids
Picking the right escape room birthday party theme for kids gives you a great “hook” to get everyone interested. You can create your own theme or buy a premade kit that comes with a themed storyline and clues.
A good escape room theme has:
- A setting, such as a time period or a special place like a zoo.
- An emergency or a problem to solve, like the need to stop a scientist before he blows up the world. The emergency always comes with a time limit, usually half an hour to forty-five minutes. You should prominently display a timer that reveals this time limit, too!
- A clear objective for winning. For example, you need to find the combination lock to open the padlock on a treasure chest or the lock on the door in the room.
- Finally–and most importantly!–an escape room needs clues and challenges that help the guests reach the winning objective.
You can use any setting or story as the basis for your escape room theme.
- Try a circus theme about a silly clown who got stuck inside a fun house. You can hide clues inside balloons or use backward writing and mirrors to reveal a code. The goal is for the kids to solve all the clues and help the clown find his way out of the house in time to put on his show under the Big Top!
- For kids who love horses or cowboys, host a Wild West-themed escape room birthday party. A gang of bank robbers has held up a train and the sheriff and her deputies need to track the bandits and find them before they blow up the train!
- Spy-themed escape rooms also work super well because you can set up the storyline in so many ways. For older kids, James Bond and his team have to find a weapons dealer before he launches a nuclear weapon. For younger kids, a spy team has to solve clues to escape a supervillain’s mansion.
If creating your own storyline seems like too much for you, don’t worry! You can also buy many escape room kits that come with clues and complete storylines.
- You need to solve the clues to join the Ringleader! This easy-set-up carnival kit comes with everything you need for a storyline and clues to solve.
- This kit helps you solve family secrets to uncover a long-lost family fortune.
- Find a buried pirate treasure in this popular pirate-themed escape room kit that comes with everything you need to turn your living room into a deserted island!
- You can also download digital kits on a huge range of themes from companies like Lock Paper Scissors. These kits often come with everything you need, from clues to decor to party invitations!
Escape Room Birthday Party Themes for Adults
Escape room birthday parties for adults give you a great way to get all your guests engaged as everyone works to find clues together. The best way to pick an escape room theme for adults is to focus on a subject the birthday person likes, such as a historical setting or a favorite movie or TV show like the Walking Dead.
- A zombie-themed escape room theme pretty much writes itself: you need to escape a bunker/abandoned house/lab before the zombies break in!
- Anything CSI/detective-themed can work really well for adults, too. This kit tells the story of a student killed at a park in Alaska and provides all the clues you need to solve the murder. Or you can solve a murder in Antarctica to win this ages 14+ escape room kit.
- For a more historical or even steampunk setting, you can create the feeling of the time period using themed party decor. Then pick a storyline that fits that time period. For example, a band of Crusaders has to solve clues to rescue the Holy Grail from a desert temple before a sandstorm strikes.
Escape Room Birthday Party Decorations
The decorations you use can set the tone and help tell the story for your escape room theme.
- Make sure the decorations tie into your theme. If you picked a Wild West theme, you could set up the food on an old-fashioned wooden wagon or decorate your home with fun balloons like these. Think of this as adding props to a theater stage to help tell the story.
- Adding a themed backdrop can really help make a normal room in your home feel like stepping into a different world. You can find themed backdrops for pretty much any topic, from zombies to dinosaurs to this cute “top secret” spy backdrop for kids!
- If you want to get really advanced, you can work clues and puzzles into the decorations. For example, you can slip a paper clue inside a balloon and then blow it up. Or write an invisible ink message on a framed portrait you hang up on the wall.
- Another way to help your guests get into the mood is to provide costume props, like cowboy hats for everyone to wear if you host a Wild West escape room. You could also suggest that guests come in costume in the party invites if you want!
How to Make Escape Room Clues
The key to a great escape room is the clues, codes, puzzles, and challenges the guests must solve in order to escape before the timer goes off. Ideally, you want at least three to five clues like a code to decipher or a puzzle to piece together.
- Write a message in invisible ink on anything in the room, and hide a black light flashlight somewhere so the team will know to look for the invisible message.
- Or write a message on a mirror using rubbing alcohol and then leave a clue directing the guests to run hot water nearby to create steam. This will reveal a ghostly message in the mirror!
- Print out a picture of something related to the storyline, like a wanted poster of the bandits for a Wild West escape room. Tear it into separate pieces and hide them in different places.
- You can also buy blank puzzles and either print or draw a clue onto the puzzle.
- Set a combination padlock and hide the numbers of the combination somewhere within the clues in the room. For kids, you can do something simple like hiding the combination inside a balloon for them to pop, revealing the clue. For adults, you can get really tricky–for instance, you could leave playing cards spread across a desk in a particular order to reveal the code!
- Use a color-by-number to reveal a clue like one of the numbers in the padlock combination.
- Print out a clue in tiny font and place a magnifying glass somewhere in the decorations.
- Use a word scramble, word search, or crossword puzzle to reveal clues. Logic puzzles or riddles also work well for older kids or adults.
- Challenges can get as silly as you want, like a game of Twister or ducking through taped-up paper streamer “lasers.”
It doesn’t come cheap, but you can also get your hands on professional-level escape room clue sets like this one that comes with locks, blacklight flashlights, and invisible ink pens.
Escape Room Birthday Party Food
The food you pick for your escape room birthday party can also help set the tone for your theme. You can even use the food as part of the game if you want, by hiding clues inside the cake or writing coded letters on top of the cupcakes for the guests to decipher!
- Draw a maze on top of the birthday cake with letters inside it. The guests have to go through the maze in the right pattern to put the letters in order and find a clue.
- Or make cute snacks like magnifying glass cookies using this cookie cutter, or use these escape room cupcake toppers.
- Of course, you can also use food to establish the setting of your storyline. Have sarsaparilla instead of soda for a Wild West theme, donuts for a cop murder mystery, and animal crackers for a zoo-themed escape room!
Escape Room Birthday Party Drink Ideas
If you plan to host an adult escape room birthday party, you may want some fun ways to tie grown-up drinks into the game.
- Get plastic syringes like these and let guest create their own spooky cocktails for a haunted house, zombie, or mad scientist escape room theme.
- Set up a drinking game as one of the challenges in the escape room. You can do the old-school dice roll where each guest has to match the roll or take a shot or come up with a more complex game that matches the theme. Or keep things really simple, and all the guests have to take a drink whenever someone mentions the word “clue!”
Of course, you can also use drinks to help set the stage for your theme. If you have a Roaring Twenties theme, drink champagne and cocktails. For a detective mystery escape room, serve whiskey or shots of your choice. For a historical setting, use fun drinking goblets or glasses that transport your guests back in time!
Virtual Escape Room Birthday Party
Lots of schools, libraries, and escape room venues started offering virtual escape rooms in recent years to bring people together online to solve clues together.
You can host your own virtual escape room over Zoom or Google Hangouts if you want. But you can also use free or paid pre-made virtual escape rooms by checking out companies like The Escape Game and Escapely.com.
Companies like BreakoutEDU offer a paid subscription to an enormous library of both virtual and physical escape room plans, too.
Escape Room Birthday Party Gift Ideas
As a guest attending an escape room birthday party, you want to bring just the right gift to show how much you appreciate all the work the host put into this complex party.
Check out this list of five perfect escape room birthday party gifts:
- Kids who like clues and puzzles will love this spy gear set including night vision goggles.
- Brain teaser-style games like this puzzle from Coogam will thrill young mystery solvers, too!
- Older kids will love this codebreaking challenge book.
- Adults or teens who love escape rooms will appreciate a board game version of an escape room like this two-part Dagger of the Sultan and Viking Funeral game.
- You can also give money or a gift card inside a devilishly challenging puzzle box like this one.
Escape Room Birthday Party Favors
One of the best ways to give out party favors at an escape room birthday party is to make them the prize for escaping the room! All you have to do is find a way to connect the favors to the escape room theme.
- For a pirate-themed escape room, you could make unlocking a treasure chest the final challenge. Fill the chest with chocolate coins as party favors.
- For a dinosaur-themed escape room, make the final challenge the task of rescuing dino eggs from a nest before the big, bad t-rex can squash them! Each guest can have an egg filled with a trinket or candy as a favor.
- For a spy-themed party, you can require all the guests to go in disguise during the escape room, and let them keep silly props like these!
Do you dislike social functions where you have to stand around and chat awkwardly while holding a paper plate of snacks? If so, you should try a much more engaging type of party like an escape room birthday party!
The awesome thing about hosting an escape room birthday party is that you can use any story you want and engage all your guests in the process of deciphering clues and solving puzzles. This challenging party format works equally well for kids or adults–you just need to adjust the difficulty level of the clues appropriately!