Thursday, September 1, 2011

Dollar Store Magic Props

At Red Bicycle Parties, I sometimes do comedy magic shows and the Dollar Tree is a great place for do-it-yourself magic props. Here's some of my great finds:

Cups and Balls

The knitted balls were $4 at a magic store and the rest is from Dollar Tree. The plastic tumblers nestle perfectly and came in packs of three. I like how the blue contrasts with the red balls. The clown nose and glasses came in a kit in the kids section. I used the clown nose as a ball that grew bigger and the glasses to help locate the invisible fourth ball. The fake apple is for the surprise finish! Coffee cups and other glasses will work too. Change the fake fruit to a lemon or lime to fit under smaller cups.

Total Cost: $7

The Svengali Deck

I suggest buying two and using the second one for disposable force cards that you can make appear in oranges or rip up or sign a name on etc.

Total Cost $2

Manilla Envelopes

The half sheet size are perfect for mental predictions, producing colored silks or cut and restored tricks.

Cost 3-6 for $1 (depending on size)

Jumbo Coins and Bills

I use the jumbo quarter in my magic change bag with a regular quarter and kids are amazed to see the quarter grow in size. The bills and coins can also be used to do stage size money magic. I am trying to learn how to do coin juggling like this guy below too. And here's a cute riddle/gag about coins that you can use the jumbo coins with:

  • For the Penny, Nicholas and Dime Routine you’ll need a penny, a nickel and a dime.
  • Present your left hand palm up, fingers together, to create a table for your effect.
  • Spread the coins out in your palm, heads up, in a line. Place the penny nearest your finger tips, the nickel in the middle, and the dime nearest your wrist. This ordering will move the energy of the game directed toward you as you do the pointing.
  • Now say and do the following:
  • “Ben’s mother had three children: Penny, Nicholas, and …”
  • When you say “Penny”, point at the penny.
  • When you say “Nicholas”, point at the nickel.
  • Then point at the dime and keep quiet. She’ll feel the conversational lead and attempt to fill in the verbal blank.
  • They might say something like, “Dime-o”, or “Dime-us” or some other name that isn’t correct.
  • Go ahead and stop reading this passage for a moment, and figure out the right answer for yourself.
  • Got it?
  • The third child’s name is Ben because this whole game started by saying “Ben’s mother had three children…”

Total $2

Kids Magic Kits

These kits contain cheap magic tricks made of paper and plastic but it you are well versed in magic tricks, you know which ones can be recreated to create stage size illusions (like cups and balls!). Simple instructions are included. Check out the little kits and start making props. You can use dollar store stuff to create large versions. One of my kits had a tiny purple plastic vase that you emptied of water and it kept refilling itself. I'm thinking I can make an excellent version of this for adult magic shows using a martini shaker! Not all the tricks in the kits are good. Most are childish or just lame but there's gems in there! Nice quality ones like the metal rings can be used for pocket magic. (Caution: one of my kits had no instructions!) The kids section also has great magic item every so often like these magic tutorial DVDs and this magic appearing top hat. The hat is cheap and would be better for your young assistant than yourself but the concept is great and can be adapted to a wire rimmed witch hat for Halloween too.

Total $1 each

Magic Wands

I have lots of magic wands. I have a regular wands, breakaway wand, appearing wand, rising wand, etc. But sometimes I like having special magic wands for themed parties. Dollar tree has princess wands for princess parties (party favor section) fairy wands (dress up section) and glow stick wands (kids section or halloween). Replace the handles with more durable or longer ones if desired or give one to each child to wave during tricks. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for something like a wizards or Harry Potter wand and a Mad Scientists wand. I also made a paper magic wand that rolls up to look like a black wand with white tips. There's magic tricks inside for the children to do. I use little black hair binders from the hair and beauty section to keep them rolled up.

Total $1 each or 6 for $1

Bandanas and Scarves

Perfect as is for any scarf tricks you want to do or for covering things up during a trick. Get fancy and make your own Color Changing Hankies, Haunted Hanky or other.

Total $1 each or 2 for $1

Decks of Cards

I've bought lots of decks of cards from the dollar store. I use some as is for card tricks. One became a fortune telling deck. One got stapled together for a gag electric deck. There's a two pack of red backed and blue backed cards. Use this for a color changing card trick. Keep your eyes open for mini and jumbo playing cards too for other card illusions. I got a jumbo deck at the magic store for $5 and I think Party City has 4 packs of mini decks of card in their favors section. I used three of my jumbo cards for a mind reading trick and saved the jumbo version of my Svengalli Deck's force card for future use.

Total $1 each or 2 for $1

Gag Bag Dog Routine.

The dollar store had all these great props to use for the Gag Bag routine where you're trying to find your dog in the bag (it keeps squeaking) but each time you turn the bag inside out, you only find another one of his belongings. At the end you find him in the zippered pocket as a deflated twisting balloon that you twist into of course. I chose the rubber bone but the raw hide ones would work too. I just thought it might get icky.

Themed Props

Lots of small favor items can be used in conjunction with other illusions to make it thematic. I use gold rings from a pack of 50 wedding ring favors with one of my rope tricks. I can use plastic pacifiers for a baby shower or pirate compasses for a Pirate party.

Total $1 each

Magician's Assistant

My kitty loves the little bunny I found at the dollar store but I planned on using him as my little assistant and make him appear and disappear during the show.

Total $1

With a bit of creativity a magician can have a lot of fun at the dollar store!


  1. Love it! Thanks for your creative thoughts and ideas!

  2. I constantly source the dollar stores for props or DIY materials to make them. They are clearly my first point of contact for anything I need to make for my magic. As I'm mainly a kids performer, the simplicity of the materials make it more appealing to children than fancier expensive "magic shop" items. They also tend to be more colourful, or colour-appealing.