I put together this at-home Harry Potter escape room for my 10-year-olds birthday last weekend. It was such a blast and is easy to put together!
An at-home Harry Potter escape room was a perfect quarantine birthday activity!
Over the weekend, my oldest son turned 10 years old. Since we are all at home and couldn’t do a party or a fun vacation for his birthday, I wanted to come up with some fun activities to do as a family at home. So I put together an at-home Harry Potter escape room!
I did a post last week about ways to celebrate birthdays during quarantine (you can read it here if you missed it), and one of the suggestions was an at-home escape room. It seemed like something my son would love (he’s obsessed with treasure hunts of any kind), and making it Harry Potter themed was the cherry on top.
I used these resources to help put together our escape room
I’ve never actually done an escape room, so these were the most helpful resources to put together this Harry Potter escape room for our family:
- My mom put together an at-home escape room for my sister and her family at Thanksgiving, and my sister wrote about it here. I used a lot of similar clues with a Harry Potter twist.
- Sydney Krawiec, Youth Services Librarian at Peters Township Public Library in McMurray, Pennsylvania put together a really fun digital Harry Potter escape room and I used a few of the ideas from there in our escape room.
These are the items I purchased for the Harry Potter escape room
- Standard combination lock
- Directional lock
- Letter combination lock
- Mauraders Map book with black light wand
- Harry Potter wands, optional (we had some from Halloween)
- Candy for the “antidote” — I used peanut butter m&ms
How I set up the escape room
I kept the entire thing a surprise from everyone, including my husband. But after dinner I asked him to keep the boys upstairs for a little bit while I set things up.
After everything was in place, I called them downstairs and told them that I had very bad news. Peter Pettigrew (that dirty rat), had poisoned our dinner and they were all going to die. However, the potions master, Severus Snape, had prepared an antidote, but they only had one hour to find and take the antidote in order to survive, and there were clues around the house to lead them to the antidote.
We set a timer for 60 minutes, and then I gave them a large envelope with their first clue.
- The first clue was four black witches hats that each had 1-2 letters printed on them. You can print them out HERE. I had cut out each of these hats and taped them to a wooden skewer so you could hold them up like a prop. It took them a while, but finally they figured out that the letters were backward. Once they each held one and stood in front of the mirror, they were able to unscramble the letters and see that it spelled out C-H-A-M-B-E-R.
- They thought about “Chamber,” trying to decide if chamber meant a room or a space, but after a few hints from me, they realized it had something to do with book #2, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They ran to the bookshelf, opened the book, and out fell clue #2.
- This clue was one sheet of paper with a quiz to test their knowledge of Harry Potter (you can find our quiz HERE). The answers to this quiz gave them the combination to the number combination lock, which was 0-10-4. Your combination lock will obviously have a different number (and they cannot be reset or changed), so you’ll have to come up other questions that fit the numbers of your lock.
- The combination lock was attached to a suitcase. It took them a few tries to get the second number correct — I had to keep telling B to read the question again. They tried the lock 4-5 times before it finally opened, and inside the suitcase were their Harry Potter wands from Halloween, and clue #3.
- I got the idea for this clue from the library’s digital escape room, and took a screen shot of their wand motions page. So full credit goes to them. You can find the screenshot HERE. But I changed the challenge and clues a bit to be a little trickier…although they figured it out shockingly fast!
- Inside the suitcase, in addition to the wands and “wand motion” page, was this instruction page, which told them which spells to study, and that the direction of the movement was of utmost importance. You can find this page HERE.
- They figured out very quickly that spells would give them the combination for the directional lock on the cupboard in the family room.
- Once they figured out the directional lock combination (I had tied the cupboard handles together with ribbon and attached the padlock to the ribbon), they opened the cupboard and inside they found the iPad.
- They unlocked the iPad and found THIS VIDEO waiting for them. After watching it, Philip said, “Hermione froze Neville — I bet the next clue is in the freezer!” So they rushed to the kitchen freezer and then to the garage freezer, where they found a giant ice block with something frozen inside.
- The “something inside” the large block of ice was a plastic bag with a black light wand inside and a slip of paper that read “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” I froze this by filling a bowl halfway full of water and placing the wand in the bag in the water. The wand inside the bag immediately floated at the top, so the next day I added additional water to fill the bowl up so the wand was frozen in the middle. Of course it took a few minutes of running the ice block under some hot water to get the clue out. But once it was out and they read the paper, they knew they were looking for a Maurader’s Map.
- Philip had noticed a book on our bookshelf earlier that was a Harry Potter Maurader’s Map book, so they rushed over to that and started flipping through it.
- The book has a few pages that fold out to show part of the Maurader’s Map, and on the page I had written in invisible ink (from the black light wand that came with the book), a phone number. It took them a while to find the right page, but finally found it, called the number, and received clue #6.
- The number they called was my dad. As a side note, we got our great love for treasure hunts and celebrating from him — He LIVES for this kind of thing. So when I called him beforehand and asked him to give this clue when they called, he went above and beyond. I had written a little poem, and he had his cousin, who does a pretty great British accent, record himself reading the poem. Then they added Harry Potter theme music to the beginning and end of the voice recording. So when they boys called the number, the theme music began playing, and then they heard the poem in an amazing British accent, and then the theme music again. It was so perfect. My dad never said a word — just played the recording, repeated it again for them until they got the clue, and then hung up. So good.
- You can see the poem HERE, and the answer to the clue was “FLOO,” as in “floo powder.” They looked around in the pantry, in our flour container, and around our indoor fireplace, trying to figure out where we would keep “floo powder.” But finally they remembered our outdoor fireplace, and dashed out there to find clue #7.
- This clue was a large jar filled with coins inside the fireplace, and at the bottom of the jar was a sheet of paper. You can see the sheet HERE. It was a Gringott’s Bank wizarding currency conversion chart. I got the idea of currency clues from the library’s digital escape room, so again, credit goes to them, but the conversion chart was found online on Harry Potter Wiki.
- The challenge was to convert the wizarding currency from one coin to another. After converting each of the equations on the sheet, they ended up with a series of numbers. At first they thought it might be another lock combination, but there were so many numbers in this series that they ruled that out. Then Philip suggested they convert the numbers into letters, matching up the alphabet with numbers 1-26. They did that, and the clue spelled out “H-A-R-R-Y-S R-O-O-M.” This led them to the cupboard under the stairs (we conveniently have a closet under the staircase in our house) where they found the next clue.
- Inside this closet was our small dust broom that we keep in the pantry (something similar to this). On the handle of the broom was a piece of paper that read “Engorgio!” You can find a printable for that HERE.
- They didn’t know what that word meant, but eventually figured out that it was a spell. Although they didn’t know what the spell did. So I gave them a lifeline and let them look up the spell online, where they found out that it was an enlarging spell. They went through a lot of possibilities at this point, mostly about dusting and cleaning, until they figured out that it referred to enlarging the small broom. If you enlarge a small broom, you get a large broom, so they rushed out to the garage to find the large broom we keep in there. Taped to the broom handle was clue #9.
- This was the last and final clue — a simple poem with a four letter word at the end, R-I-S-E. You can see the poem right HERE. They immediately knew that the word “RISE” was the clue to the letter combination lock.
- They rushed to the dining room credenza, opened the lock, and inside they found a large amber medicine bottle (a vitamin bottle I had emptied out) with a sign on it that said “ANTIDOTE.” You can find that sign right HERE. They opened the bottle and inside were peanut butter m&ms — our favorite!
They gobbled up the antidote, and then checked the time. They finished with 8 minutes to spare! Although I think if I hadn’t been giving them clues along the way, I think several of the clues would have them taken quite a bit longer.
It was such a fun activity and B was so thrilled. Of course he immediately set to work creating an Easter themed escape room for our family to do the next day!
This is the Harry Potter font I used to create these graphics
I wanted these clues to feel as Harry Potter-esque as possible, so I downloaded “Harry P” font from dafont.com (for free) and uploaded it to Photoshop where I created all the graphics.
Try this DIY escape room at home with your family!
You can do this at-home escape room with your family too — just grab the few locks and other items listed at the top of the post, tweak a few things to work for your house, and then have fun!
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