Blog, costume, Halloween, kids, Magician, Tips

The Top 4 Magician Costumes for Children


Magical Will-Halloween 2015


Halloween is only 2 ½ months away!  It isn’t too early to start buying costumes before they sell out. Unless your child wants to go as a ghost or you’re very crafty, buying the perfect costume is the way to go. Last year my daughter, Maya, went as a monster and my son, Will, transformed into a magician (see picture to the right). I honestly had no input on his costume; he chose it by himself. (#prouddad) Supplying him with a magician’s wand was easy-I have thousands that I use as giveaways at all of my shows. Ironically, I had to go online to choose the perfect magician costume for him. If you’re looking for a great magician costume for your child, this post will make your search easy. I am going to show you the top 4 magician costumes for kids. At the time of writing, all 4 choices are available in stock and all are very reasonably priced. I hope you enjoy the easiest Halloween costume shopping experience ever!

Melissa and Doug

Melissa and Doug Role Play Costume Set

1) The cutest costume I found and the one that I bought is Magician Role Play Costume from Melissa and Doug. Any parent reading this probably knows about the Melissa and Doug Company. They make amazing toys and educational products for kids of all ages. The costume includes a cape with bow tie, vest with secret pocket, top hat with hidden compartment, wand, coin, rabbit, card with tricks. This costume is on their website for $29.99.  Unlike Magical Dave, it doesn’t have a snake, balloon animals or gift bags, but it is really cute!

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 9.00.16 PM

Prextex’s Magician’s Costume


2)Prextex has its own version of the Magician’s Costume.  Priced at $21.79 on Amazon, it is comparable in price to the Melissa and Doug’s costume. This costume set includes: 1 Black machine washable polyester cape, 1 black felt top hat, 1 pair of white gloves and a 12 inch magic wand. The only reason I didn’t purchase this costume was because of the color. Unlike the Melissa and Doug costume, this is only black and white. There is no red, no sparkles, no pizzazz. Although it definitely looks like a magician’s costume, it looked a little too somber for a little kid’s costume.

3) It’s been a year since I discovered Magician with Top Hat from Aeromax Toys. Although I didn’t purchase their costume (still liked Melissa and Doug’s better), finding out about this company allowed me to find many other amazing costumes. If your child ends up not wanting to be a magician, (even though you fervently encouraged the idea), Aeromax has other terrific costumes. Check out the astronaut, Fire Power Super Fire Hose with Back Pack, Astronaut Accessory Pack, and more.

Aeromax Toys- Astronaut Accessory Pack

4) Your aspiring magician might already have a magician’s wand, but not the other accessories. If so, you might want to purchase each item separately. However, unless you have Amazon Prime or can go directly to the store, you might end up paying a lot of money in shipping charges. Party City sells a Magician Cape for $16.99. Magic wands cost $2.99, Top Hats are $9.99, and black bow ties cost $3.99.

Halloween is even closer now than it was when you started reading this post. 🙂 If your child already has his/her heart set on being a magician, buy the costume now. My son keeps last year’s costume in his room and there are many days when I open his door in the morning and he’s doing a puzzle or playing with his Toy Story figurines while fully dressed in his costume.

It is worth noting that this is NOT a sponsored post or a paid advertisement. In the world of blogs that seems to often involve compensation or free goods–that is not the case here. I’m just providing information about different magician costumes that are available….and needed an excuse to show a picture of my cute kid 🙂 


Teach Your Child to Be a Great Magician in 3 Easy Steps!

Magic tricks have been around for hundreds of years.  In fact, the first book containing magic tricks and its secrets appeared in 1584. Magic tricks however were mostly shown at fairs rather than in isolated “magic shows”.  In 1845, Houdini (Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin) had his own magic theater. Magic for me however began when my dad bought me my first magic trick when I was 6.   Bought at Tannen’s Magic Store in New York City, it was a simple, yet amazing effect that made it seem as if a ping-pong ball was magically suspended in mid-air.  After purchasing the trick, I was told the secret and couldn’t wait to go home and show others. In less than 10 minutes of returning home, I managed to show the trick to each member of my family and our next door neighbors.

What I didn’t understand then was that performing magic requires a lot more than simply knowing how to do a magic trick.  In over 24 years of watching, learning, studying from the best magicians in the world and performing at thousands of shows for tens of thousands of kids at birthday parties, I have learned what anyone needs to know in order to be successful at performing magic.  The following 3 tips will ensure that your child will be able to perform any magic trick successfully; that is, they will entertain while also captivating and amazing their audience.

  1. Patter, Patter, Patter:  What you say (or don’t say) is just as important as the trick itself.  Harry Anderson (Night Court, comedian, magician, etc) once said that if after watching a  magic trick the audience leaves saying “Did you see the magic trick the magician did?” the magician didn’t do a good job.  Instead, people should leave saying, “Did you see the magician that did the trick”.  Anyone can walk into a magic store and buy a trick.  In fact, most of the tricks the David Blaine, David Copperfield and other magicians perform in Las Vegas and on T.V. specials can be purchased.  The difference is what these magicians do with the trick.
    Patter Matters!

    Patter Matters!




    The patter is the story part of the trick.  David Copperfield is able to take a 90-second trick and by adding comedy and an interesting story, have the trick take 10 minutes. Anyone who has ever watched a kid “perform” a magic trick knows the difference (for better or worse). When I perform for a crowd and  ask someone to “pick a card”, there will invariably be a teenager in the audience who says, “I know this trick”. Many people think that the purpose of a card trick is for the magician to find the selected card.

    The purpose of ANY and ALL magic tricks should be to ENTERTAIN.  Every trick that any successful magician performs should have its own patter.  If I spend 10 hours perfecting a sleight-of-hand trick, I am not ready to show it to others until I have also created an appropriate story that goes along with it.   Patter is definitely the most important piece of your routine when doing magic tricks.With good dialogue, any simple/”boring” magic trick can be transformed into an awesome and entertaining experience for others.

    There is no such thing as “best dialogue”.  I love performing magic because I can make every trick my own by adding my own humor and story.  I often bring my own life experiences in the story.  For instance, at children birthday parties, I used to perform the famous “linking rings” trick.  This trick has been around for hundreds of years and has been performed by hundreds of thousands of magicians. (A Chinese magician Ching Ling Foo performed it in the 19th century). Despite being a very common trick, I guarantee no one has ever used the same story that I have.

    I came up with a whole story about when I first saw the Olympics rings while on a raft in the middle of the Colorado River. The story is really funny and entertaining.  When the trick is over, it is awesome to see people’s reactions and enjoyment, even though some have already seen other magicians perform the same trick.  In fact, if the patter is engaging enough, many people won’t even remember having seen the trick before. It will seem as a brand new trick!There is no book that you can read (nor should want to spend your money on) to learn how to create good patter for magic tricks.  It just takes practice and creativity.

    If you are the parent of a child who is getting into magic, you should definitely record the story they create; it will be hilarious!  I have seen some kids come up with some really funny and creative stories for all types of tricks.  (My son, Will, who’s 3 tries to have every story revolve around “poopy”; not what I would suggest)

  2. Be Cool, Calm, Collected, and CONFIDENT : After practicing the ins and outs of a trick and nailing down a solid patter, being confident is a must for any successful magician.  During my magic workshop portion of my magic shows, I teach kids not only how to do the tricks and what my patter is, but I also explain and show them two different scenarios.  In both scenarios I do the tricks exactly the same; same sleight-of-hand used, same patter, and I demonstrate using the same assistant.  The only difference however relates to how confident I am when performing the trick.  In the examplar demonstration, I am looking directly at the audience members, smiling, talking as if I was having a friendly conversation with the audience.
    Confidence is key.

    Confidence is key.

    In the other example however, I don’t make any eye contact, watch my hands the entire time I do the trick and seem as if I am trying to remember a script.  Confidence is key!  Encourage you child to practice doing the trick in the mirror.  Record them doing the trick to you and  the replay the video to look for places in which your child seemed to be lacking confidence. Practicing how to do a trick will automatically make anyone more confident when they perform it to others, but all successful magicians are always aware about how confident they are, how confident they need to seem, and how confident or not confident they seem to be by others.  A successful magician must believe that they can do it, and do it really, really well.

  3. What Now? What Next?:  At the end of every trick, magicians have a lot of different options for what to do next.  I don’t mean what trick to do next.  I actually mean, what should the magician do when the trick is over?  When I first began performing at children’s birthday parties in New York City, I often did a trick with a flower that would droop down when I wasn’t looking at it. When I would turn to look at it again, it would be upright.  What I remember most about this trick is the ending. Many magicians perform this as a gag trick and it lasts at most 1 minute.  I created a really funny story about it, the routine lasted almost 5 minutes, and the ending was hilarious! I never wanted to perform this trick because I too thought of this trick as a gag, and it didn’t add much to my 45-minute comedy magic routine. However, even once a developed the patter, I didn’t k
    The last part matters.

    The last part matters.

    now what to do at the end of the trick with a flower.  Many magicians performed the trick and then put the flower away and took out another trick.  Too me, that seemed very “choppy” and makes a show feel like a combination of many different tricks rather than a show with tricks that flow together nicely.  For the next 9 years, before I retired the trick (I love having a fresh show every couple of years), I would have a boy and a girl come up on stage.  While they were coming up to the stage, I would switch the gimmick flower with a real one.  The next 3 minutes involved a hilarous scene that ensued when the boy and girl read from cue cards. The boy gave the girl the flower, the girl giving it back to the boy, and so on.  The point is that the trick didn’t just end with me being stuck with a flower.  The flower was used in another way to further entertain my audience.  After your child show you a card trick, they can certainly said, “do you know how it was done?”.  Alternatively, they can say “being able to find your card really depleted my energy and magical ability…I need a nap….or a chocolate chip cookie. 🙂

These 3 Tips will undoubtably ensure that your or your child will become a great magician and entertainer rather than just a great magic trick-doer. If you need a magician at your child’s birthday party, contact me.  There is nothing better than learning how to be a great magician by watching one!

Blog, movie, Special Needs, theater

A Magical Theater for an Amazing Cause

Steven Spielberg once said, “Every time I go to a movie, it’s magic, no matter what the movie’s about.” This past Tuesday, my wife and I traveled from NYC and took our 2 kids to a movie theater that’s certainly magic. Located in Ridgefield, Connecticut, The Prospector is “a 501(c)(3) non-profit first-run movie theater that provides meaningful employment to people with disabilities.” 82.5% of people with a disability were unemployed in the United States in 2015. (2015 Dept. of Labor Report) The Prospector employs over 100 people with special needs and many disabilities and the theater is amazing! There is beautiful art on the walls and ceiling, beanbag chairs inside the stadium seating theater, it is meticulously clean and has the nicest staff. It is great for kids, but there is also a café that serves wine, beer and delicious deserts.

My 2 kids, Will (3) and Maya (8) getting ready to go into the theater

My 2 kids, Will (3) and Maya (8) getting ready to go into the theater

Even though the theater is a magical place, it took hard work, not magic to make it happen. The owner and person behind the mission is Valerie Jensen. A former teacher, she transformed what was once a bank into a completely accessible and beautiful theater. All proceeds are used to support Val’s mission to have the employees (called Prospects) “live a higher quality of life through meaningful employment, and are encouraged to sparkle, shine, and turn their passions into professions.” The Prospects do all of the work required to run the theater: collect tickets, sell food at the concession stand, give tours to visitors and even landscaping. The theater is a successful paradigm that shows how businesses and the community can work together to employ people with disabilities and make a true improvement to the lives of so many.Maya and Will getting ready to watch Finding Dory!


If you live near Ridgefield, Connecticut you’ve got to visit. ― J.K. Rowling said it best: “We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all of the power we need inside ourselves already.” Valerie Jensen is a true magician and is transforming the world one theater at a time.

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arts and crafts, Tips

Arts and Crafts-Magic Style!

Happy snowy Saturday, everyone!   Since all of my New York City shows were cancelled today, I found some great arts and crafts projects that you can do with your kids while stuck inside.  In no time, your child can have his/her own magic wand, magic hat and even magic cape!arts and crafts Even if you’re not part of the 75 million who are affected by the storm, these cool projects will keep your kids entertained and away from the t.v. for a couple of hours. Enjoy! I can’t wait to get back to work tomorrow!

Make your own magic wand!

Make your own magic hat!

Magician’s Cape (this requires a sewing machine)

Magical Dave

Birthday party Tips, Blog, Education, Hiring, Pricing, References, Reviews, Tips, Uncategorized

10 Best Questions to Ask an Entertainer.

As a full-time NYC math teacher, I constantly reinforce the importance of asking questions.  If you are confused, you can’t learn without asking questions. (Also, your participation grade in my class will suffer) 🙂 When being booked for an event, I always ask 10-20 questions to make sure I get all the necessary information to provide the best show for the ages of the children. Interestingly, one of the most common questions that I hear from potential clients is “What questions should I ask you?” (which is a great question!).  Regardless of the type of entertainer you consider hiring, the following questions may help you better plan your event and ensure that you are getting the best entertainer for your needs.

In no particular order, here are 10 questions that should be asked and answered prior to booking an entertainer:

    1. What age group is the show most suited for? Will my 2-year old enjoy the show for 5-year olds?  I have shows for children 3-15 years old.  Every show I do is different based on the ages of the kids.  If an entertainer specializes in Bar Mitzvahs or Communions, they might not be the best fit for a 4-year old birthday party. Last month I did a show in the rented our party room of a retirement home.  As twenty 5-year olds sat on the floor watching me make the bunny appear, 8 very nice old ladies with walkers shuffled in and watched the rest of the show.  In this particular case, the 90-year age difference didn’t matter.
    2. Can you describe the show? What type of magic tricks? What type of songs? Is it interactive?  Is there dancing? (I don’t dance or sing.  My 6th grade students can attest to that).
    3. What does the package include? Ask to hear about all of the options.  You don’t want to hire a balloon artist only to find out during the party that your entertainer also makes balloon animals.  I bring my bunny to every show, but the snake is upon request.
    4. How long is the performance? Most birthday parties are typically 1.5-2 hours long. A 45-60 minute show is perfect for this timeframe.
    5. How much experience do you have (direct and indirect)? I have been performing at children’s parties for over 24 years. However, I have also spent 4 summers as a camp counselor (Mohawk Day Camp and Summit Camp), I have 2 kids (3 and 7-years old) and I am a full-time NYC 6th grade math teacher at a middle school in New York City.  My show is kid-approved for over 24 years, but I also have experience working with children that most entertainers do not.
    6. Do they have references? Call, call, call. You would never go to a fancy restaurant without first hearing its reviews. Your child’s party is a once-a-year event; ensure success by asking to call at least 3 people who have hired them in the past 6 months.
    7. What do they charge? Are there different prices for different packages? This seems like a no-brainer, but it might make sense to ask the question from the get-go. If your budget is no more than $200, it doesn’t matter what the packages are, how long the show is, etc. if the children’s entertainer charges $1,000,000.
    8. Are there any specials, deals, discounts?  Some entertainers actually offer Groupons and/or have discounts in local newspapers.
    9. Do they accept credit cards, checks, Paypal, Bitcoins (I don’t really know what those are)?
    10. What are the payment arrangements?  Is there a deposit? If so, how much? Is the deposit non-refundable?  When is it due by?  When is the remaining balance due and how is it to be paid? Can they be paid in pennies? (I was once paid partially in rolls of quarters.  The client owned a laundromat 🙂

There will probably be more questions that come up during the phone call or email exchange, but these 10 questions are a great start to the process of planning your child’s party.  When you’re ready to hire a magician for your child’s party, I’ll be ready to answer any and all of your questions.  You can contact me at the website or call: 917-886-6364.

Blog, Education, Hobby, Magic Lessons, Magic Revealed!, Tips

5 Reasons Why Magic is a Great Hobby for Kids

I’ve always loved learning and performing magic. I first became interested in magic when I was 7, but only when I got older did I begin to appreciate how I’ve actually benefited from it. In retrospect, it is easy for me to see how having magic as a hobby has positively influenced me over the years. Here are five reasons that magic is definitely a hobby for kids that you should encourage your kids to explore.

1) Boosts Self Confidence

Richard Wiseman, a professor of psychology, wanted to discover ways to boast self-confidence in children. Interestingly, his research with 10-12-year olds indicated that learning magic tricks was more effective than typical classes designed to improve children’s self-esteem and confidence. As a 10 year old, I gained a lot of confidence being able to baffle my classmates and even more self-confidence when I stumped my older brother. Children feel empowered when they are able to successfully perform magic tricks. For at least one magic trick, any timid child has extraordinary special powers that only they can wield. Nothing says “self-confidence” more than that.

2) Promotes Self Discipline

Learning magic tricks requires self-discipline and persistence. Without these skills, a magician will not be successful. Some tricks take a couple of minutes to learn (self-working) while others might take months (sleight of hand). Over the years, I’ve learned hundreds of challenging magic tricks through only patience and tenacity; two character traits that any parent would want for their child.

3) Improves Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is desired by many employers, yet it is a skill that many people lack. Learning, watching, and performing magic definitely improves critical thinking. Being able to solve a problem by using critical thinking requires analyzing an issue from several standpoints. In the movie “My Cousin Vinny”, the title character’s ability to think quickly is highlighted by describing his reaction to a magic show:

“At my cousin Ruthie’s wedding, the groom’s brother was that guy Alakazam…Well, he did his act, and every time he made something disappear, Vinny jumped on him. I mean, he nailed him! It was like, “it’s in his pocket”, or “he’s palming it”, you know? Or, “there’s a mirror under the table.” I mean, he was like, he was like, “wait a second, wait a second, it’s joined in the middle, and there’s a spring around it, it pops it open when it’s inside the tube.” It was like Alakazam’s worst nightmare.”
–Bill Gambini , My Cousin Vinny

The more magic tricks children watch, the more they will be thinking outside the box and be able to untangle the secret.

4) Help Others

Some of my favorite experiences entertaining with magic have been in hospitals, homeless shelters, and Ronald McDonald Houses. Nothing is more rewarding than making children smile, especially those who may be ill or going through a difficult time. People of all ages love magic and it allows for a temporary distraction from whatever pain and hardships someone might be experiencing.

5) Hi…Pick a card

When I was younger, it was difficult for me to introduce myself and meet people at school or parties. Once I learned magic, introductions became much easier . . . nothing breaks the ice like “Pick a card”. Unlike my other hobby (playing Space Invaders on Atari), magic encouraged me to interact with friends and family. Even today, while I don’t start every introduction with some Hocus-Pocus, I’m confident knowing that at any time I can initiate a conversation with a quick trick.
I can’t imagine my life without the formative influence of magic. It has helped shape me into the person I am today, and has allowed me to bring joy to thousands of children and adults for more than 30 years. Hopefully your child can begin to experience the many benefits that magic as a hobby brings.

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Blog, Hobby, Magic Lessons, Magic Revealed!, Reviews, Tips

4 Ways to Get Your Child Involved in Magic

Magical Dave and Friends!

Confession: No one has ever asked me for an autograph (except when I need to write checks to pay bills). What I do get asked many times by parents is how can their child get involve in magic. Magic is a great hobby, and if your children are interested in learning how to do magic, it’s a great hobby to encourage. Magic tricks don’t require a lot of materials (if you have a deck of cards and a few coins, your kids can get started today), and it can be practiced anywhere, (NYC subways, long car trips, doctor’s waiting rooms, etc.). Research has even shown that kids who are interested in magic see an increase in self-esteem and learn to be less shy. If your child has expressed interest to learn magic, here are 4 resources that will get him/her off to a running start.

1) Buy a Magic Set

30 years ago, when my older brother asked for a bag of Gummi Bears, I asked for a magic set.  Within 5 minutes my brother had eaten all of his candy, where as I practiced many hours each day and began to learn. Magic sets are a great way to introduce a child to magic. The instructions are usually well written, the tricks look colorful and kid-friendly, and most have a variety of tricks that are usually very easy for a child to learn.  Some magic sets contain only 4 tricks and others contain over 100.  Regardless of the size of the magic set, your child will love learning and performing them for you. Sets such as the Spectacular Magic Show and Melissa and Doug’s Deluxe Magic Sets are a good place to start. Click here to see my review of these two magic sets.

2) Read Books on Magic

After mastering the tricks in the magic set, I remember going to the library and taking out books on magic. I began by reading very basic beginner books that involved everyday objects like salt shakers, rubber bands, coins, etc. As I got better with my sleight of hand, I would read more complicated books on magic (Bobo Modern Coin Magic book, Tarbell Course of Magic). There are many card and coin magic books that don’t require you to have anything other than a deck of cards or some quarters. The price of the book can essentially buy you hundreds of magic tricks that you can take with you anywhere. In high school, I also began reading books on how to make simple balloon animals, and today I continue to read similar books but with much more complicated balloon sculptures. My mom didn’t always appreciate it when I shoved a deck of cards in her face and asked her to “pick a card”. However, she did love that I was constantly reading without having to be asked!

3) TV, Movies, and YouTube

There is never a shortage of magic being shown in the media. Whether it’s a David Blaine, Chris Angel, or a David Copperfield TV special, America’s Got Talent, or the thousands of YouTube videos, your child can easily watch magicians entertaining people. Similarly, YouTube also makes it very easy for anyone to learn magic. If you child wants to learn some card tricks, just type in, “beginner card magic tricks”. If you substitute “coin” or “rope” or “everyday objects” with card, you will get hundreds of hits. You would also get a comparable number of results by substituting “beginner” with “intermediate” or “advanced” or “self-working”. Watching magic acts instead of learning how to do the tricks will also be very beneficial for anyone learning how to perform magic. When I started out learning magic, I loved watching Penn and Teller and Doug Henning. These magicians didn’t just show the audience a magic trick. They incorporated story-telling, comedy, and they had great stage presence which collective created an amazing show and a memorable experience. Magic is as much or more about the presentation and performance as it is about the actual trick. You must also be a great performer and entertain your audience and watch other magicians will help your child understand that.

4) Magic Camp

When I was 11, I first went to Tannen’s Magic Camp. Located in Long Island, NY, these 8 days were basically magic 24/8. There were lessons, performances, more lessons, more performances and all of it was with a hundred other kids who wanted to continue to learn magic. It was at this camp where I began to make the jump from magic as a hobby to magic as a profession. Not only did I continue to learn more magic tricks, I was surrounded by other kids who also loved magic. I am still in touch with many of my former campmates, many of whom are famous full-time magicians and others who continue it as a hobby. There are many other magic camps for kids, and it is a great way to encourage any child who wants to learn magic.

Contact NYC Magician, Magical Dave today for more information regarding his children’s birthday party magic shows and how he can make it unforgettable!

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5 Steps for Hiring a Children’s Entertainer

5 Simple Steps to Hiring the Best Children’s Entertainer

If I weren’t a professional magician, I’m quite sure that I’d be overwhelmed by the process of trying to hire a children’s party entertainer. I wouldn’t know where to start looking, what questions to ask, and what I should expect to hear. The list below will help you ensure that you’re hiring a good entertainer and someone who will contribute to making your child’s event special and memorable.

1) Ask around: Chances are that your child’s classmates (or classmates’ siblings) have seen another entertainer at someone else’s birthday party. Ask other parents if they’ve seen other entertainers and if they have any recommendations. You can spend hours looking online for entertainers, but a first hand recommendation is the best place to start!

2) Don’t be afraid to drive the conversation: When you call an entertainer to inquire about their show, they will likely give you a lot of information about their show (what it entails, how long it is, stand-out tricks, etc). Don’t be shy about asking questions or voicing your concerns-this is, after all, your child’s party! Are you worried about space? About holding the attention of wiggly children? About timing the show will other party elements, like cake? A good entertainer has experience addressing these issues and would be happy to talk you through what has worked best in his/her experience. Also, don’t feel pressured to make an immediate decision! You should feel comfortable thanking the entertainer for the information and asking to call back later if you decide to book them (but be aware that some busy entertainers have calendars that fill up far in advance—so if you want them, don’t wait too long).

3) References: If, after speaking with the entertainer, you find yourself on the fence (you think you want to hire him but aren’t completely sure), it may be worthwhile to ask for a reference from a previous client. Many entertainers’ websites have pages of testimonials listed. Although they may look good, they may also be very old, paraphrased and/or fictitious. The testimonials on my website are accurate, but I encourage people to call recent past clients (who have consented to receiving these calls, of course) whose children are similar in age. I want kids and adults to love my show. If I’ve done a great job, then there shouldn’t be any reason why previous clients can’t recommend the show.

4) Contract: Always get a contract with the details of the agreement. When a client hires me, it’s my responsibility to make sure they know exactly what they will get when they book the show. The date, time, location, price and specifics of the show are always listed. Your entertainer should provide you with a copy of the contract prior to the day of the show. Even for very last minute shows, the entertainer can still take a picture of the contract with his/her cell phone and text it to you. Don’t agree to an entertainer if they aren’t able to provide you with a contract. Miscommunication about the price or location can easily be prevented with the information is in writing.

5) Pricing: Just as there is a big range in price for painters, tutors, and restaurants, the same is true for children’s entertainers. The more expensive magician isn’t necessarily the best, but there are a few factors to consider. A magician who charges considerably less than others is probably not too busy and is trying to get as many shows as possible. He may be okay, but he probably isn’t very well-known (if you’re considering hiring someone who isn’t well known, this would be a good time to ask for references, as mentioned above). A magician who charges considerably more than others is probably very busy and is able to charge a lot because his time is much more limited. The higher priced magician might also offer more than the other magicians. Some magicians bring just a suitcase, while others bring a suitcase and a bird. I bring a suitcase, bunny, snake, and gift bags. That being said, the higher the price doesn’t always correlate to level of entertainment. Price alone shouldn’t be the primary factor in your deciding process.

Hopefully, these 5 steps will help you find the perfect entertainer for you child’s party. A birthday only happens once a year, so whomever you hire should make it very special and memorable for your child!

Visit Magical Dave’s website to get ideas on how to make your child’s birthday party fun, memorable and extra special. There’s also a great online magic trick for your child to try!

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The Start of a Kid’s Birthday Party

I have never performed at a birthday party where all of the kids arrived together the minute the party started. The moments before the party is supposed to begin can be stressful for any host, as last minute preparations and details are completed. That stress is exacerbated when you have twenty 4-year olds soon to arrive and nothing to occupy them with until the main activity begins. Here are 4 suggestions for ”Welcome to the party” activities that will make the arrival of your guests fun (and ease them right into the party).

1) Coloring: Have crayons and paper out for the kids to draw and color. Kids love coloring and it can definitely occupy the time it will take the majority of the kids to arrive (some are always late). Helpful hints: Don’t offer markers and make sure you cover whatever surface you want them to draw on (tablecloth over the coffee table, newspaper over the living room table, a tablecloth on the floor, etc).

If you want to make it more exciting instead of blank white paper, you can go to the Dollar Store and pick up a bunch of coloring books. However, the coolest coloring activity that the kids really, really like is the cardboard houses/boats/castles. Click here to see some of them on Amazon. Although they are definitely more expensive than coloring books, the house can be saved and kept as a nice reminder of the party (all of the kids can put their names on it).

So much fun!

So much fun!

2) Arts and Crafts:  An arts and crafts table is another nice way for all of the kids to hang out and relax before all of their friends arrive. Calm activities are key. :-) One type of creative craft for the kids is hat-making.  The kids love this, and it can also serve as a very easy and inexpensive party favor.  Oriental Trading has tons of hat-making projects to choose from.    Here are some other crafty projects from Oriental Trading.  This company is huge and can definitely simplify your planning.

3) Hired Help: Many of my previous clients have hired a face painter.  When the kids get to the party, they can go right over and get a tattoo on their face, hand, or arm.  If you don’t want to spend the extra money, a lot of people do it themselves.  Have your friend or older daughter/son get the appropriate paints and practice drawing a few items a few days before the party. This website is a great place to start learning the basics!  Helpful hint: I never recommend a balloon artist at the start of the party.  Balloons will pop, kids will lose them, and they will be in the way of any activities that you have planned.

4) Pizza making: If you’re up for it, a really fun activity is for all of the kids to make their own individual pizza.  You need adults helping the children, of course, but the kids love it.  On the table, have dough, shredded cheese, and marinara sauce.  Helpful hint: Roll the dough into circles ahead of time, so all the kids have to do is add the sauce and cheese.  When they finish, write their name on a popsicle stick and put the stick in the pizza.  When it’s time to eat, the kids eat what they made! Here’s a great link for a pizza-making party! pizza making party 2pizza-friends

Regardless of what the kids do when they get to the party, I guarantee they will be completely entertained, focused, and laughing non-stop for the entire 60-minute show. When you hire me, your party will be a lot less stressful for you and a lot more fun for your child.

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Magic Revealed!

The Tube of Mystery

Richard Wiseman demonstrates a quick illusion and then shows the secret. Mr. Wiseman started out as a magician, and is now Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire in the U.K.

This illusion is probably not one that you’d want to make; it must have taken a long time to create and I can’t imagine how long it took him to come up with this idea!

It’s only 51 seconds, so check it out…

Click here to watch, Richard Wiseman’s The Tube of Mystery

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The Best Magic Sets for Kids!

I first became interested in magic  when I got the Harry Blackstone Magic Set  on my 7th birthday. (it has since been discontinued :-( )

Harry Blackstone Magic Set

Harry Blackstone Magic Set

This was my first exposure to magic and it quickly became a hobby and then a part-time career (I’m a full-time middle school math teacher). Still today, kids are interested in learning magic, and there are tons of different magic sets to choose from. I’ve seen hundreds of different magic sets that are sold in stores and online. Here are 2 of my favorites:


Magic Set-Ryan Oakes
Spectacular Magic Show with Performance Table (for children 8+)

Spectacular Magic Show with Performance Table

One magic set that I recommend for kids is The Spectacular Magic Show with Performance Table. In the spirit of full disclosure, the magician who demonstrates the tricks on the DVD is my friend Ryan Oakes. I didn’t know that he was featured in it until I saw my niece, Brooke, with the set (it was definitely a surprise). Nonetheless, Ryan is an amazing magician who has performed all over the world and this set is really, really, good. It comes with a magician’s hat, a wand, an instructional dvd and 100 easy-to-do tricks. At the time of this posting it cost about $37. A great deal!

2) Here’s information on the 2nd magic set:

Deluxe Magic Set (for children 8+)
Deluxe Magic Set
(for children 8+)

The other magic set that I recommend is made by Melissa and Doug. This set costs $35 and also has great tricks. The tricks are well-made and easy for kids to do. Up until 5 years ago, I performed a trick from this magic set at many of my shows! The one drawback is that it doesn’t contain a DVD like the other set. It is sometimes difficult for many children (including myself*) to learn magic from reading a book. A DVD definitely makes learning the tricks easier and it is always fun to watch a trick being performed!

There are hundreds of other sets you can buy and I’m sure many would be sufficient to get your child interested in magic. Please comment to let me know of any other magic sets you’ve found that are also really good.

*When I was 10, I got the “handcuff escape” magic trick. I put plastic toy handcuffs on my grandmother and I tried to teach her how to escape without the key. After 15-minutes of trying to get the handcuffs off and not being able to find the key, pliers had to be used to break them off. I (and my grandmother) wished that trick had come with an instructional DVD.

This is not my grandmother
This is not my grandmother. My grandmother was a little bit more shocked.

Birthday party Tips, Blog

Recommended Venues For Your Child’s Birthday.

In over 24 years as a Children’s Magician, I’ve performed in almost every imaginable place. From the common venues such as houses, apartments, parks and restaurants, I’ve also performed on boats, balconies, in movie theaters, and in grocery stores. This post will hopefully give you some ideas of where you can have your party and how to think creatively about finding others. Also, at the end of this post, there is an opportunity to win a magic set so let the reading begin 🙂

1) 80% of my shows are performed in NYC apartments. Although some of these apartments are owned by Robin Leach’s crowd (the rich and famous), many take place in small living room areas. I don’t need much space. I bring my own table and Marshmallow the bunny and Fluffy the snake don’t take up much room. Fluffy is a Ball Python-very friendly, but as its name suggests, she likes to curl up into a ball when she’s kept in a bag. If you have space for all of the kids to sit comfortably on the floor, having the party at your house might be the easiest and cheapest option. You don’t have to rent out a space and/or pay for food from a restaurant.

That being said, a party at your house will probably require moving and covering up some furniture, and unfortunately expecting food and drinks to fall on the floor. If your apartment/house is not large enough for the number of kids at the party or you don’t want your Picasso or great-great-great grandmother’s watch to get stepped on, definitely bring the balloons and good times somewhere else. Save yourself the hassle and worries. In NYC, there is no limit to where the party can be held. As with most of the country, unless you live in Lost Springs, Wyoming Lost Springs -Population 1 copy Lost Springs -Population 1you can find a plethora of other places that will be well-suited for you child’s party.

2) Besides your home, the park is another great option for a party. Most parks in NYC don’t require (or enforce) permits, but definitely make sure you have a contingency plan in case of rain. As long as it doesn’t rain, a couple of blankets, a cooler and a pizza shop that delivers is all that you will need.

3) Many restaurants have space for your little ones. Lost Springs -Population 1 Many pizza restaurants have a back room/party room where kids can either sit on the floor or in chairs. I always prefer the floor-my show is very interactive and I always encourage the kids to move around and participate. Pizzerias like Pizzeria Uno (Pizzeria Uno Locations) tend to have a place for parties. In NYC, call a bunch of pizza shops in your neighborhood. If they don’t have a back room, many will open up early just to accommodate the party. The same is true for many Frozen Yogurt Shops. I’ve done dozens of shows at Menchie’s Locations and 16 Handles Locations and I know many similar places do the same. When I’m at these locations, the parties are usually from 10 am-11:30am. This way the store can still open on time at noon, the children are all rested and in good moods, and the parents have the remainder of the day stress free. It’s a win-win-win! 🙂

4) In addition to restaurants, you may want to ask some local businesses that have a lot of space. In my neighborhood, a realtor has a basement which is rarely used. It is carpeted, has chairs and a few tables, and a refrigerator for the staff. I never knew they rented out their basement until I did a show there, but it worked great. Once balloons and some decorations were brought in, the bare basement was quickly transformed into a party room. Also, I’ve performed at close to 100 children’s shows in NYC bars. Similar to the frozen yogurt shops, bars aren’t typically open in the morning. However, many don’t mind allowing a birthday party with 20 non-rowdy, sober kids inside to make a few extra bucks. I’m a huge fan of Rodeo Bar in NYC. Their staff is very nice and there is even a stage. Kids love to be on stage during the show 🙂 A place that is welcoming to the kids and the children’s magician is definitely a win-win.

There are certainly more places to have a child’s birthday than the 4 options that I’ve mentioned, so please let me know of other creative places where you have had your child’s party.  Finally, here are some of the more unusual places where I’ve performed for a child’s birthday party: Grocery Store (near the lobsters), Private Yacht, Upscale Boutique (while shoppers were in the store), and in a completely empty apartment (the parent’s had just sold the apartment and they were moving the following day). [DISPLAY_ACURAX_ICONS]

Birthday party Tips, Blog

Magical Dave’s Top 7 Ideas To Help Make Your Child’s Birthday Amazing!

With over 22 years experience as a birthday party magician, I’ve amassed tons of kid party ideas and party tips to make your birthday party stress free for you and the best party for your child! Your child’s birthday only happens once a year (unless you live on a boarder of a time zone and you cross over before 11:59 pm. I always wanted to do that! ) Here are 7 tips to help you plan the perfect party:

Everyone is never on time.

1) If you want most of your guests to arrive by 3:30 pm, for example, call the party for 3:15. In over 24 years, I’ve never been to a show where everyone arrived on time (that would be true magic!) Don’t have any main activities (Piñata, magic show, pin-the-tail on the donkey, etc) begin until at least 15 minutes after you call the party. However, have crayons and paper out for the kids to draw on until all of the guests arrive. Your child’s party may start on time, but guests usually tend to stroll in. (I’ve been to plenty of parties where guests arrive as my show is ended; 1 hour late)

2) Keep it a party for kids, not dogs and cats. Keep dogs, cats, hamsters, tigers, etc., separated from the party area. Little kids who have their own dogs/cats may try to treat your animal(s) the same way they treat theirs. Will, my 3-year-old, likes to “pet” our 50 lb Standard Poodle, however his version of “petting the dog” wouldn’t be seen as friendly to a 5-lb Chihuahua.

3) Feed the children, but not the floors. Cover your rug with a plastic table cloth and try to avoid foods that break into a million little pieces (chips, Doritos, etc). There is never a good time to find an old piece of Cheetos in the couch 7 months after the party. The easiest foods to serve at a party are pizza, apple juice, and water.

4) Please put peanuts away. Peanut allergies are scary and serious. Make sure peanuts are not served at the party and are away. Even if they are available for the adults, one could easily fall and be picked up by an allergic child. My daughter, Maya, has a peanut allergy and this is always a concern of ours whenever she goes to an unknown place.

5) Manners Matter. I always bring a birthday present to the birthday child. Although I don’t expect it, it is always great to get a, “thank you” when I give him/her their gift. A child’s birthday is a great time to practice manners and basic edict. If they are too shy or too excited, it is a lot of fun to watch them greet each guest at the door and thank their friends for coming to their party and for their gift.

If your child tends to be shy or get overwhelmed in certain situations, you might want to prepare your child for the party. You might play act or rehearse how you would like your child to answer the door, greet the guests and receive the presents. Discuss good manners and acceptable behavior for the party. After the party, you may also want to have your child send “thank you” notes to all of his guests. If they aren’t old enough to write the card, they can decorate it with crayons and/or stickers.

6) Even Al Roker gets the weather wrong at times. If you want to have the party outdoors, make sure you have a contingency plan in case of rain and extremely hot weather. Fluffy the snake doesn’t mind the heat, but Marshmallow the bunny does. If you’re hiring a performer with live animals, let them know beforehand that the show will be in the park, on the balcony, rooftop, etc. I don’t mind as long as there is a shady spot, but the kids may get too hot.

7) The Order Matters. In terms of the structure of the party, it works well when the food and cake are served last. I always recommend the magic show to start 15-20 minutes after the party begins (to allow for late comers). This way, the children arrive and can draw and play. Next, the show and then the pizza and cake. 90-minutes is a perfect amount of time for the party. (However, if a 12 hour sleepover party is what you can handle, go for it…just don’t expect to get any sleep).

I never recommend making balloon animals until after the show and if possible, it works best if the kids don’t eat during the show. Balloons will pop (no amount of magic can prevent that) and food and drinks will spill on the floor (guaranteed). Parents ask me all the time, in what order should activities be planned. In the thousands of magic shows that I’ve done for birthday parties, about 90% have the entertainer first. (The kids are always so excited about watching a show with a live bunny and snake.) After the show, serve pizza then cake.