Top 5 Magic Birthday Party Venues in Greater Philly

One of the first considerations when you plan your magic party is where to have it. From my experience as a performer, I’ll share my thoughts on how to find the best venues for your children’s events.

Top Choice: Magic Birthday party in your home
Top Choice: Magic Birthday party in your home

  1. The easiest and most common choice is your own home – when you host at your home you’ll have the luxury of having the party come to you. I’d say that 90% of my work is done in people’s homes and that usually works out great. But what if you don’t want to hold it there?
  1. A really good option if you have one is the neighborhood community center. If your residential area has a party room you should try it as a possibility. They are usually very well-maintained and the fee to rent is nominal. Keep in mind that you probably should make your reservation early as they have a tendency to book up quickly; especially on Saturday afternoons. To play it safe, you should make your booking arrangement as soon as two months in advance for these venues.
  1. Another good option are recreation centers in the parks department. Most townships in the Philly area have their own parks department and they often allow residents to rent out their buildings for events. You should try to make early reservations for these places as well.
  1. You might also look into karate, dance, gymnastic schools and similar places, especially if your son or daughter attends one on a regular basis. Even if they don’t advertise the fact, they might let you hold a party on a weekend afternoon as way to add a little revenue. They have parking, an open area for the show, rest rooms which are all perfect to accommodate a party and you might even get it for free (if your child attends the school).
  1. Firehouses are also a good option. They normally have a large hall and rent the space for a reasonable price. Some of my favorite magical parties have been held in firehouse halls.
  1. Last on my list are restaurants and that’s because they are the most problematic. Often you have to share your space with other people and that takes away from making your son or daughter’s event a special experience. They are also somewhat expensive. The best of the family style restaurants that host parties are pizza places or ice cream/frozen yogurt shops. Make sure you visit ahead of time to see the spaces they have available before booking.

Easy Science Project for Kids

This is a very easy project for kids to do and would work well at school or at a science magic party.

Stuff you need

  • A plastic bottle
  • A sheet of paper

How do I do it?

STEP 1

Tear off a little piece of paper (like a post it note) and crunch it up into a ball so that it fits in the mouth of your bottle!

STEP 2

Hold the bottle sideways and put the crunched up paper ball into the mouth of the bottle, as shown!

STEP 3

Now for the fun part of this experiment! Challenge a friend to blow the piece of paper into the bottle. Try it - the piece of paper will come flying out!

What's going on here?

This happened because of Bernoulli's principle.

Bernoulli realized that air has a lower pressure when it's moving more quickly.

As someone blows into the mouth of the bottle the air is moving fastest - so is at the lowest pressure.

Inside the bottle the air is moving more slowly - so a higher pressure. As the pressure is higher inside the bottle than in the mouth this pushes the paper out!

Bonus

Here's a bonus experiment with a surprising result that also use and demonstrates Bernoulli Principle.

Bernoulli's Principle bonus science magic
Bernoulli's Principle Bonus Science Magic

Try either or both of these at your next science magic party!

Eggciting Easter Magic in Warrington PA

Had a blast with a great bunch of kids in Warrington PA today! GrandMom & GrandDad had all of their kids and grandchildren over for an Easter celebration and the evening before they decided it would be fun to do something extra this year.

Luckily I had a timeslot open and live nearby to Warrington, so I was able to help them out. I enjoyed it thoroughly because I have a TON of Easter-themed tricks using bunnies and eggs, and for once I got to use them ALL. I also got to practice some Easter balloon sculptures including a chick, a duck, and of course a rabbit!

The reactions from the grandkids were spectacular - they were LOUD and really enjoyed themselves. Got a nice review from their Grandfather too.

Warrington PA Easter Magic Party
Warrington PA Easter Magic Party

Magic Party Game Idea: Hat Trick Game

I found this interesting idea which would be good for parents as an add-on for a magic-themed birthday party:

Magic Top Hat
Magic Top Hat

For this cool child activity, put a black-top hat in the middle of a large room and have all the kids sit in a circle around the hat. Then pass out an equal number of playing cards to each kid and have them take turns tossing the cards into the hat.

(Change the size of the circle, closer or farther away from the hat, to match the skill and patience level of the kids).

Each kid in turn tosses a card into the hat. If they get theirs in they continue to toss until they miss. The player who tosses the most cards into the hat gets to start the next round

Anastasia won 1st place at the North Penn Talent Show

My daughter Anastasia has performed in the North Penn High School Talent Show all three years now. She planned and auditioned with a large illusion that was simply spectacular. She had always dreamed of doing something huge in her senior year, and through the generosity of local professional magician Mike Bonacci, who let us borrow one, she seemed all good to go.

Best Laid Plans go Awry

Well, she made it through the audition, but the week of the show there were two days of tech & sound rehearsals and a dress rehearsal. And none of the assistants were able to make it to those. The situation was bleak. Without attending these practices, the big show was a no-go.

Luckily, Anastasia has some experience in the magic biz, and with just 48 hours before showtime, she came up with and prepared an entirely different act that needed no assistants. It also wasn't (apparently) a big illusion.

On the night of the big show, she put on a big smile and pulled off the act of the night, fooling the entire audience badly.  Here's the video of the full magical performance:

A New Slight

Today I worked on learning Mike Kaminskas new effect "KFC," which has some interesting applications for closeup magic and may well add some "spice" to my performances!

Considering a Bounce House for a Kids Birthday Party?

Bounce House Considerations

Of course not everybody will want or need a magician at their birthday party. A popular alternative is to rent a bounce house. Here's a list of 10 things to consider before renting a bonce house for your birthday party. Many of these points are overlooked and result in a stressful or even a dangerous day.
Bounce houses actually are fantastic for a children's birthday party.  They usually have a fairly large size and their bright colors add to the festive atmosphere.  The excitement they can add to the party that is hard to match for kids of all ages.  But it's not all as simple as it sounds.

1.  Bounce houses are only for only children ages 3 - 12.Kids need, for safety, to be able to leave the inflatable on their own. Kids under 3 years old will have trouble with that, and so bounce houses are to be avoided for kids under 3. Older children, over the age of 12 are quickly bored by a bounce house (even though it's fun!) and so some sort of interactive entertainment is best for children over 12 years of age. 

 
2.  Choose the appropriate size bounce house for your party guests.It's important to work with the rental company to find an appropriate size that fits both your budget and your number of guests. If the bounce house is too small, children can not freely and safely bounce inside and one that is too big is simply a waste of money. 
 
3.  Be sure the rental company has insurance
Ask what type of insurance they carry and be specific with your questions. 
Its important the the children using the bounce house will be covered if anything should malfunction. This is far more than just a money-back guarantee. If a rental company's prices seem "too good" they may be operating without insurance.
4.  Get a written contract.
As with all party entertainment, it's important that the rental company and you have a clear written agreement including specific dates, pick-up / delivery times and prices - to avoid any surprises.   
 
5.  Inspect the bounce house upon delivery
If there are any issues, do not sign the paperwork and make sure they find a solution before allowing anyone to use the equipment. 
 
6.  Have the delivery person wipe down the mat inside.You don't want someone else's germs at your party. 
 
7.  Supervision is a must at ALL times.
Never leave an inflatable bounce house unattended when children are inside.   Make sure to designate an adult that will stay with the bounce house and watch the kids during the party. Because inflatables seem so safe, this is often overlooked, but it is SO Important! 
 
8.  Don't overload the equipment by having too many children inside at once.The rental company wil guide you as to how many children may be in the moonbounce at the same time. Accidents can occur when the unit is overloaded.
 
9.  Group children together by agesKeep age groups together - ages 3 to 5, 6 to 8 and 9 to 12. Children not inside need to be monitored too!
 
10.  Unplug or power off the unit in high winds or bad weather.
Never allow children inside during these conditions.
 
These 10 things should keep everyone safe and having fun at the birthday party! But it does take a lot more diligence from a responsible adult than you might have thought, and that takes away from time that parents can use to prepare the cake & ice cream, set up games, and catch a breath. A bounce house might be fun, but it's surely not easy!

Magic Routines

Magic Should Tell a Story

So, as I continue my never ending process of developing a magic show and routines within the show that have a good start, middle, and end ( a useful narrative technique) I saw this link from Bizarro    to a video  which, says all good stories basically:

  • Tell a story to a certain point, and then need a ...
    • But, then or
    • Therefore ...
  • And also have multiple things going on so that at each crescendo of each story, we can cut back to ... what's happened elsewhere and get that story to it's next (but/therefore)
For magic purposes, if applied to the "snap silks" we have a single sink handkerchief. music playing. But! With a snap there's another. And But! with a snap there's another... and so on for a bit. By the end, there's one last one. THEREFORE, at least as Anastasia performs it, that seems to be it, and all the produced silk hankies are lifted, BUT ... there are many many more all coming out in a flourish!
In the full routine context the first time an additional silk appears is unique, and then serves to lead the audience down a certain path.
This leads towards the kitten story theory which I will discuss in an upcoming post.