When I started this blog I had a series of party posts… party idea after party idea. But as our kids got older and and their opinions came into it, I realised that kids can and will create their own magical parties… and in fact the simpler the better and the less work from me… then even better.

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I realised that somehow Hood 8 had never had more than a “call all your friends and let’s dash to the beach on the day” kind of party. We decided that for his terrific tenth party he would invite his buddies over and we would create and Escape Room kind of a challenge for them…

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How to Create an Escape Room Challenge

  1. Choose a Theme: We chose “Around the World in 80 Minutes.” Because of someone’s propensity for all things Mapish…
  2. Gather the Materials You Have Available: Take a look at what you have lying around your house: padlocks, combination locks, old keys, interesting containers, interesting collections, curious puzzles, board games, strange artifacts from your travels.
  3. Look for Puzzles you Already Own: An old Word Search Comics, Logic puzzles, Crosswords, Sudoko Puzzle pages and even jigsaw puzzles.
  4. Start Collecting Codes in Advance: Make a list of codes you know… morse code, braille, grid codes, pigpen cipher, the caesar cipher and millions more.
  5. Balance Your Activities Out: No-one wants to sit puzzling over a difficult puzzle for an hour and half, you need to make sure that you have a good mix of achievable activities, with puzzling puzzles and cracking codes. Nothing must be too mindlessly difficult, they must be able to actually conquer it all and leave with that invisible feeling!!!
  6. Create Your Story: We created a very simple story around our theme and the available materials… alternating activities and puzzling, thinking and doing… and then we simplified and simplified and simplified some more. A party is only so long, you don’t want to give them more than they can actually get to… less is more and if they finish in a flash them more time to play.
  7. Quick Set Up: Literally tossed everything on the table as the guests arrived, including pencils and paper and a chalkboard with chalks, a lot of things that looked like clues but weren’t actually clues, and then we let the story tell itself as they puzzled away…

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How Our Story Unfolded


As our guests arrived they were told that the party lad was a direct descendant of Phileas Fogg, but instead of going Around the World in Eighty Days, they would be going Around the World in Eighty Minutes. Then they were told to “Go Adventuring and to Shoot for the Stars…” On the table were a couple of nerf guns… and there were Stars…
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Once they hit the stars, and the tin can (!) they discovered there was a clue inside the tin can… “Take a Closer Look Under a Chair… To Get a Clue To Take You There…” Under the chairs, that were way on the side and not being used at all there were some magnifying glasses, that immediately had them dashing about.
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There was also a head torch, that didn’t appear to be working… actually the next clue was in the battery cage. And on the clue they were asked to think of nine countries beginning with an I. I thought they would look through the Atlas, one of them went straight to the flags of the world and another was able to just pull them out of his brain!!!
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One of those countries is a very good place to find tea…
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And that took them to a “tea box” on the table,…
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That had the numbers to the combination lock lurking inside it…
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And inside the box with the combination lock, there was an opportunity to spot the difference…
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Amongst all the mini-guide books, there was a book about islands of the world… and a search through the booklet, led to Zanzibar…
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A spin around the gameboard took them from Zanzibar to Iceland, and when they got to Iceland they received an “Ask me Anything Card” … and I only answered “Hot” or “Cold”… Iceland being the island that is Hot and Cold…
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Eventually, they got to the freezer and eventually they figured out that the ice-cream tub did not contain ice-cream… but rather a large ice block full of animals. The horses were “red herrings” or false clues… but there were a couple of other clues that linked back to words to look for on a word search…
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They totally figured out how not to do the word search… and managed to figure out the solution to that puzzle was COW, and if they looked carefully they could see that COW had been hidden on the periodic table, each letter looking like one of the elements.
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From there they had to figure out the name of a country on the periodic table… and the atomic numbers created a code to open the last lock…

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And once they had cracked the code, the final container had a few treasures inside it: some gemstones, a chocolate bar and we quickly moved onto the cake… which the kids who weren’t solving clues had created while the others were busy…
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We normally just have an ice-cream cake… but this was a total splurge… layers of cake with the middle quickly excavated out and replaces with candy. As the birthday lad cut the cake it literally exploded… I have been dying to make an exploding cake for years… so sweet and so much fun.

And that was our Escape Room party, not perfect, by miles… but do remember that kids are very forgiving when it comes to parties and clues and such like and they are just as thrilled to pretend-along when things don’t go quite according to plan, as if you had everything perfectly prepared and perfectly in hand. A really fun party for kids of all ages, and we could definitely adapt it to other ages and stages.

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