2023 Room Escape Artist Holiday Gift Guide

Welcome to our 8th annual Holiday Gift Guide.

As always, we’re presenting a unique selection of gifts for the adventurous and thoughtful nerds in your life (or you, we don’t judge). This year the REA team and our Patreon supporters shared their wonderful ideas for the gift guide too.

REA logo with a Santa hat atop. Text reads, "RoomEscapeArtist.com Holiday Gift Guide 2023"

Each year’s gift selection offers an assortment of games, puzzles, tools, and oddities. We don’t repeat gifts year-to-year, so you can always reference our past guides for more inspiration. We’ve put a lot of thought and love into each guide; they still hold up.

Escape Room Tickets

Before we dive in, I have to suggest that you check out our Regional Recommendations Guides and consider picking up a gift card to a wonderful escape room in your giftee’s area.

David, Lisa, Heather, and Richard standing in front of the doors of Forgotten Cathedral.

2023 Gift Guide

As always, we break this guide up into categories for your comfort and convenience.

Tabletop Escape Games

Clue: Treachery at Tudor Mansion – Hasbro

$16.99 (Amazon)

Rules booklet for Clue: Treachery at Tudor Mansion, alongside three game cards: card number 90, a clue card ("wine glass") and a narrative card describing a bookshelf.

Sarah W: “The Escape & Solve Mystery series combines escape room puzzles with board game mechanics for a turn-based puzzle game based on the classic board game Clue. This installment is ideal for families and/ or casual puzzlers, but there’s enough gameplay for more experienced players to enjoy as well.” (Review)

Lost in the Shuffle: A Double-Dealing Puzzle Game

$25 (Spencer is Puzzling)

A deck of cards with an intricate maze-like design on the backs, fanned out beside their box.

Matthew:Lost in the Shuffle packs 52 delightful puzzles into a mere deck of playing cards. The perfect stocking stuffer for escape room and puzzle lovers, this game features a wide range of puzzle types and a slick online interface that serves as both answer checker and narrative delivery.” (Review)

The Silent Storm Advent Calendar – Exit The Game

$50 (Amazon)

Exit The Game Advent Calendar, The Silent Storm box shows a wintery cabin interior. It is snowed in, with a snow drift pouring in through the second floor window.

Cindi: “For a daily dose of inventive mini-puzzles and a jolly Christmas story, you can’t go wrong with Exit: The Game’s newest advent calendar, The Silent Storm!” (Review)

Never House – DarkPark Games

$47.21 + $27.02 for shipping to the US – order early, shipping takes time (DarkPark Games)

Closeup of a beautiful wooden spirit board, a small bottle of whiskey, a broken tile shard, a burlap bag, and some children's illustrations of ghosts.

Fro: “Never House delivered a high-quality gaming experience on all fronts with robust and original content and a simple yet compelling narrative. Gift it with confidence knowing that there’s something here that even the most discerning puzzle lover in your life will enjoy.” (Review)

Threads of Fate – Post Curious

$92 (PostCurious)

Black Threads of Fate box with an intricate silver pattern printed on it. Beside the box are a few puzzle components including a beautiful puzzle box and a wooden medallion with runes etched into it.

Andrew: “Another annual gift guide, another great game from PostCurious. Threads of Fate is an updated and remastered version of a previous PostCurious game, The Tale of Ord. Threads of Fate is a heavyweight game, offering challenging puzzles, gorgeous artwork, and an intriguing narrative. Note: Threads of Fate is currently accepting preorders with an expected delivery date of early 2024.” (Review)

Puzzle Books

Puzzle Snacks Carnival & Bonanza by Eric Berlin

$10 each (Amazon – Carnival & Bonanza)

David: “Eric Berlin is a master of puzzle design. We recommended Eric’s first Puzzle Snacks book back in 2019, and his latest two are just as spectacularly crafted as the original. Get them all and relish their approachable brilliance. And while you’re at it, check out my podcast interview with Eric when it airs tomorrow evening.”

2120 by George Wylesol

$25 (Amazon)

2120 book cover, depicting a jagged illustration of a man's face with an open mouth

Sarah W: “This illustrated gamebook would make a great gift for anyone who was raised on Choose Your Own Adventure books or point-and-click video games. The eye-catching art, surreal setting, and unnerving story make it a unique and unforgettable read.” (Review)

Mechanical Puzzles

SmartGames IQ Love

$15 (Amazon)

A colorful packing puzzle set with both heart-shaped, and square frames.

Brett: “The pieces may look like delicious candy, but I can confirm that they are not. 120 challenges in escalating levels from easy to very hard will keep you busy, and two different goal shapes will give you some variety. The only downside is that you’ll have to get your candy fix somewhere else.”

Rhombic Maze Burr

$95 (Two Brass Monkeys)

An unuqual puzzle made from greet, gray, and black pieces, with sliding brass pins in channels.

Brett: “Derek Bosch designed a rhombic version of Kagen Sound’s cubic Maze Burr. This 3D printed version by Two Brass Monkeys has a smooth sliding action, which you’ll appreciate as you move each side back and forth, looking for the sequence that allows you to remove the final exit piece. Brass pins make it easy to configure the puzzle in 101 different challenges, ranging from 30 to 379 moves to complete.”


$109 (Puzzlelocks)

A brass puzzle lock with its key attached to its shackle. The look reads, "LOOPHOLE"

Brett: “This is one of the more recent lock designs from Boaz Feldman, the son of Dan Feldman, creator of the famous DanLock. LoopHole is a medium difficulty puzzle, with multiple steps that will take close examination and some experimentation to work through. It’s solid, well-made, and much more interesting than the more common $20 one-trick puzzle locks.”

Escape Room Insiders

The Spoilers Club

$15 per month (REA’s Patreon)

Image of a person taping their own mouth, labeled "Spoilers Club."

David: “Joining the Room Escape Artist Patreon community at the $15 level doesn’t just help support our quest to make our work sustainable, it also comes with access to our monthly Spoilers Club episodes (in addition to the Reality Escape Pod Bonus Show and our Discord community). The Spoilers Club is exactly what it sounds like: deep, spoilery explorations of incredible escape rooms from around the world – with the creators of the games. If someone in your life can’t stop talking escape rooms, the Room Escape Artist Patreon content is the perfect gift for them.”

Puzzle Video Games

Chants of Sennaar

$16 (Steam)

A book filled with sketches. Beside it are a series of symbols.

Andrew: “I fell in love with Chants of Sennaar before the demo was over and have been telling everyone I know to check it out now that the full version is available. The core gameplay mechanic is language translation, and that’s not something that we see enough of. It’s puzzly, it’s atmospheric, and it’s different from almost everything else you’ve played. Not convinced yet? A free demo is available to help get you there.” (Review)

The Case of the Golden Idol

$18 (Steam)

In-game screen shot of a strange gathering of masked people at an alter. Stained glass illuminates behind them.

Theresa 🐳:The Case of the Golden Idol was lovely to play asynchronously with players across the U.S. With a unique art style and captivating deduction gameplay, we wanted even more content!”

VR Puzzle Games

Meta Quest 3

Starting at $500 (Amazon)

Meta Quest 3 headset, controllers, and box.

David: “There are so many wonderful VR experiences for escape room, immersive, and puzzle fans to explore and the Quest 3 is by far the best option for accessing them.”

7th Guest VR

$30 (Meta) (Steam)

VR puzzle box in the shape of a glowing paneled orb.

Cara:The 7th Guest VR by Vertigo Games is a reimagining of a popular 1993 CD-Rom game originally produced by Trilobyte. In this ghostly murder mystery game, you are challenged to solve puzzles to unlock the memories of what happened in this house. What set this game apart from others in its initial release was its high quality video captures interspersed throughout gameplay. In this new VR version, 3D Volumetric Captures of actors performing the roles of each guest made this an immediate standout in immersive gaming for me. Having worked with Holoportation and other volumetric captures, I was so pleased to see this technology being utilized to such great effect. It really brought the story to life for me along with the bevy of enjoyable puzzle challenges. Definitely worth a play through!”

I Expect You to Die 3 VR

$25 (Meta) (Steam)

Robot beside the title "I Expect You To Die 3"

Cara:I Expect You to Die 3: Cog in the Machine is, as the name suggests, the third installment in a series of delightful spy-themed VR games from Schell Games. (Well, 3.5 if you count their mixed reality mini-mission, I Expect You To Die: Home Sweet Home, which I do!) These games are narratively-driven puzzle-filled missions casting the player as a spy, racing against the clock to complete seemingly impossible tasks using only the objects within their reach to narrowly escape certain death. So, if you’re looking for a relaxing game, this may not be for you, but for everyone else, I highly recommend it. Good luck, agents!”


C-Shaped Couch Table

$37 (Amazon)

A wood-topped couch table with a C shaped metal frame.

Theresa 🐳: “I own two, and anyone who has ever used them has immediately asked for the link to them:”

BlissLights Sky Lite Evolve – Galaxy Projector

$25 (Amazon)

A bedroom illuminated with a soft, nebula-like green projection on the walls.

Theresa 🐳: “This is silly home product that makes me happy is this star light. It even hooks up to Alexa/ Google devices! It’s great to turn on instead of the actual lights before bed.”


Foot Rest

$14 (Amazon)

Feet on a plush foot rest.

David: “This stupid $14 piece of foam has greatly improved my work-from-home setup so much. It feels good on my feet and takes a lot of pressure off of my hips when I am working. “

Whale Pencil Cup

$16 (Amazon)

A whale cup filled with colored pencils.

Theresa 🐳: “It’s so cute, works so well and makes me smile every time I sit at my desk. His name is Maximus.”

Leatherette Journal & Puzzle – PostCurious

$23 (PostCurious)

A brown leatherette journal with an intricate gold Celtic knot pattern connecting a series of 12 different icons.

Lisa: “This is the perfect notebook because it piques curiosity. Its beautiful gold foil design leads to an expertly clued, and extremely satisfying solve, from cover to cover. It’s approachable, and would be a great gift for a writer or artist at any puzzle experience level.” (Review)

Logitech Lift Vertical Ergonomic Mouse

$65 (Amazon)

A gray wireless mouse with an elegant design.

David: “I got tired of editing mouse clicks out of Reality Escape Pod recordings, so I looked for a mouse that was more quiet. My worry was that a quiet mouse would feel less solid, but it turns out that this one is fantastic. It also has an elegant, ergonomic shape. And yes, it did solve my recording problem.”

Tabletop Games

Cross Clues

$15 (Amazon)

Cross Clues pastel box and letter card game components.

Lisa:Cross Clues is the perfect game to have in your pocket for a casual gathering. (I know this, because Eric pulled it out of his pocket one evening on our recent Orlando Escape Room Tour!) It’s collaborative, which means no pressure. It’s all about word associations, which means it’s funny. And with new words placed randomly every time, you never know when a round will be too easy or fascinatingly difficult.”

Just One

$17 (Amazon)

Just One box beside the game's coponents of 6 small whiteboards, and a deck of cards.

David:Just One is an easy-to-learn and fun-to-play party game. This game is so easy that you basically don’t even have to teach people to play it… and yet… it has an undeniable entertaining depth to playing its rapid rounds. This is a must-own tabletop game that can even engage reluctant players.”

Blood on the Clocktower

$145 (The Pandemonium Institute)

Blood on the Clocktower's purple grimoire box on a wood table.

David: “I’ve been pretty down on social deduction games because I think that they usually have serious balance issues and also lack a lot of deduction. Blood on the Clocktower feels like the peak of the genre. I can’t imagine a better social deduction game without getting cast for Survivor. ”


$270 (Amazon)

Frosthaven's icy battle box art featuring high fantasy characters.

David: “Legacy games with narrative and depths are a favorite in our house. We played and loved Gloomhaven, so we bought Frosthaven as a wedding gift for two of our tabletop gaming friends, and now we’re playing it with them. Yes it’s expensive, but it really is special and we cannot get enough of it.”


Autoloader Screwdriver

$32 (Amazon)

AutoLoader screwdriver with a black and blue handle.

David: “Funny story. On our 2023 Montreal Escape Room Tour, Steve, the manger of Sauve Qui Peut accidentally left his multi-screwdriver in a game. The team found it, set it aside, and after the game they all bought it on Amazon before leaving the game because it was so damn cool. It has since become one of my go-to tools. It’s both fun to use, and fun to fidget with.”

Folding Hand Truck

$80 (Amazon)

A folding hand truck.

David: “This thing is a back saver. I also love the way that it collapses down and transports easily.”

Prusa 3D Printer

Mini – $459 (Prusa3D)

MK4 – $1,099 (Prusa3D)

David: “After a lot of deliberation amongst the REA 3D printing crew, we came to a conclusion that we are absolutely recommending Prusa 3D printers… but then there was more deliberation on the model. For those looking to dabble, we recommend the Mini. If you’re confident that 3D printing is for you, check out the MK4.”


Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow: A novel by Gabrielle Zevin

$14 hardcover or Kindle (Amazon)

Colorful typography set in front of the Great Wave off Kanagawa painting.

Lisa: “This is a novel about game design… that’s really about relationships. The characters were intriguing and relatable. I recommend it to any reader, but especially to those who create or play escape rooms or video games.”

Stocking Stuffers

Locking Pin Backs

$6 (Amazon)

A box of silver locking pin backs.

David: “I know that there are a lot of folks in the puzzle world that enjoy a good enamel pin. I recently learned about these locking pin backs and they are fantastic. With them, I no longer have to worry about pins falling off of things. Enamel pins ain’t cheap… just a single saved pin pays for the entire box of 40.”

Directional Lock Pin

$13 (Etsy)

3 directional padlock enamel pins in red, blue, and purple.

LeeFay: “These directional lock pins move satisfyingly! I love my purple one.”

Paper Theater – My Neighbor Totoro – At The Bus Stop

$22 (Amazon)

Papercraft Totoro

David: “We found these paper-craft projects at ToyFair and fell in love with them. This Totoro is one of many that you can find. Check them out. They are as unusual as they are adorable.”

Deadeye Wearable

$30 (aroundsquare)

Deadeye wearable coins on a necklace string in 4 colors, yellow, red, black, and blue.

Auggie: “A stylish necklace with an easily removable Deadeye, perfect for silent digital manipulation or use as a ‘worry stone.'”

For the Little Ones

Escape Your House: Spy Team

$29 (Amazon)

Escape Your House Spy Team box art showing a family escaping their home.

Sarah M: “For an adrenaline-fueled family experience, grab a copy of Escape Your House: Spy Team, either to use as a children’s gift or as entertainment over the holidays. Kids 8 and up can participate meaningfully in this collaborative race against time while building their teamwork skills over the six missions.” (Review)

Unlock! Kids: Detective Stories

$30 (Amazon)

UNLOCK! KIDS Detective Stories box art.

Sarah M: “This set of mysteries exudes a cartoonish, point-and-click vibe in the form of a card game, distilling the essence of the standard Unlock! series into something fresh and full of ahas for younger audiences. Families don’t need to be familiar with Unlock! to play, but they may become fans in the process!” (Review)

LaQ Basic 511

$58 (Amazon)

LaQ Basic 511 box beside a robot and an airplane made out of LaQ pieces

Sarah M: “For construction-minded kids who’ve exhausted the standard building toys, make sure that LaQ blocks are part of their repertoire. The variety of angled pieces enables builders to stretch their spatial thinking skills while exploring the geometry of creation in new ways. There are many kits both small and large; this one was a good starter set for us!”

Little Tikes Magic Workshop Roleplay Tabletop Play Set

$80 (Amazon)

A potion set, with a large black cauldron, a spell book, and many magical ingredients.

David: “How cool is this thing? Who wants a kitchen when you can have a magic cauldron?”

Bitsbox Subscription

$25 per month (Bitsbox)

Bitsbox materials beside a box.

Sarah M: “Each box contains coding instructions for six simple apps and challenges for extending them. The visual nature of the apps made my kids more interested in coding than some more traditional coding tutorials.”

For the Pets

Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Treat Maze

$17 (Amazon)

Green and purple disc with an exit point for treats.

Peih-Gee: “My dog YumYum loves this maze treat dispenser that I use for his kibble.”

LED Light Up Dog Harness

Starting at $18, price increases with size (Amazon)

A dog with a glowing blue and purple LED harness.

Peih-Gee: “I got this light up harness for Yum and he always gets compliments on it… And I also got this light up human harness for myself that I use a lot for various costumes, but also if I walk the dog at night.”

COSORI Food Dehydrator

$160 (Amazon)

A large metal food dehydrator with 4 shelves.

Peih-Gee: “My favorite purchase has been this dehydrator that I use to make all his treats including chicken and steak jerky, dehydrated sweet potato, liver, and chicken feet.”

Something Special

Two Nights at Wild Heart Ranch

$554 for 2 nights (Airbnb)

Drone shot of a 5 building property in the middle of the desert.

Lisa: “Wild Heart Ranch was the getaway David and I needed this fall. It was both an escape room and a trip to an unfamiliar, beautiful desert landscape. The mystery hidden here is of the place, created by characters who belong in Joshua Tree, and make their Airbnb feel lived in, in a good way. The puzzles were fun and the reveals had wonderful fanfare.” (Review coming soon)

Reality Escape Convention Tickets

$749 (RECON Shop)

RECON Logo over stylized image of palm trees. Text reads, "August 18 & 19, 2024"

David: “The Reality Escape Convention is the single biggest production that Room Escape Artist has created, and this year it’s in Los Angeles. If you’re connected to the escape room industry, this is the place to go to learn and network with people who are thinking deeply about the future of the craft. Come be a part of shaping the future of escape rooms and immersive games.”

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

There are lots of ways to support Room Escape Artist, like buying from Amazon, Etsy, or Art of Play after clicking into the links included in this post or backing us on Patreon.

The money that we make from these helps us to grow the site and continue to add more value to the community that we love so much.

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