Many years ago, I wrote an annual series of articles for Genii each December on how to turn ordinary effects into holiday effects (at the time, there werent many seasonal effects available). Now Im having a blast turning many common magical effects into the kinds of things that might turn up at Hogwarts School of Wizardry for First Years Harry Potter magic to you Muggles.
Its too late to get a seasonal article into the December issue of Genii, so I thought I would just post my ideas here, combining the seasonal with magic straight from Diagon Alley.
1) Remembrall Yule, Yall. In the Harry Potter book, a remembrall is described as a small ball that gives a visual signal when a person has forgotten something a totally useless thing since it doesnt give a clue as to what you might have forgotten! However, kids like this kind of nonsense and I found a source of some good imitation remembralls, so I began to search for ways to use them in magical effects. I located a source of small plastic balls filled with an iridescent rainbow swirl of putty. You can order some from my Web-site ( Magic Nook ), or you can go to the local 99 cent store and find some inexpensive plastic tree ornaments that will work just as well. Youll also need a 99 cent store Xmas stocking. The effect is this- hanging on a small Xmas tree are five of the remembralls (if youre doing Harry Potter magic, just remember to call them by name and youre IN). Have a muggle I mean an audience member remove the remembralls from the tree one by one and lay them on your table, or hang them from your wand I dont care. Then the muggle selects one of the remembralls, opens it up and places a marked coin inside the plastic goo, pushing it down in so it cant be seen when packed back in the plastic ball. (If youre using plain ornaments, the assistant could mark a slip of paper and stuff it inside one of the ornaments.) Now you hold out the Xmas stocking so the muggle can drop the remembrall inside, and then drop all the other remembralls inside as well. You give them a good mixing and pour them out on the table, or rehang them on your wand. Now you ask the muggle to remember in which remembrall he hid the marked coin or paper. Every time he guesses, he opens it up and searches through the goo and of course finds nothing in every single remembrall. Thats when YOU, the Wizard, remember that you had your own remembrall hidden in your hat (or wherever you want to hide it). You remove your remembrall from its hiding place, hand it to the muggle and surprise! There is the hidden marked coin or piece of paper (you might have to break open ornaments to reveal the marked thing).
Of course, you have a sixth remembrall already concealed in the toe of the stocking when you start. The heel has a slit in it and when the first remembrall with the marked coin is dropped in, it is quickly passed on through the slit and held in your hand as you pinch the slit closed. The other remembralls are dropped in on top of the sixth remembrall and if you cant carry on from there, you deserve to flunk out of Hogwarts.
2) Levio-sah! Every Harry Potter fan knows the magic words used to levitate a feather either from the book or from the movie. But now you invite a group of muggles forward to see if they have the skills to enter Wizard training. Each gets a wand which you show them how to flick and wave while saying the magic words of levitation. Then you bring out a feather and place it on a nicely decorated pillow. You allow each muggle child to try to levitate the feather, but the only one who can even make it stir is the smallest, least likely child of the group (YOU get to decide who to let that person be). As the chosen child waves the wand, the feather jiggles and dances about on the pillow and slightly levitates above the pillow. You reward all the muggles for trying, but the wizard apprentice perhaps gets to keep the wand or some small prize and is told to report to track nine and three quarters in the spring to begin his or her training. As the children go back to their seats, you take your own wand, wave it while saying the magic words and the feather flies up to the top of the background Xmas tree where it remains perched as an ornament (or perhaps flies into the wings of the angel on top of the tree- you decide).
Its our old friend the invisible stuff that shall not be named. You have two of them attached to the feather. One is short, and the other end goes into your mouth where you can use your tongue as the modus operandi. The other is long and extends up to the top of the tree. It needs a smooth plastic ring to act as a pulley, but many plastic ornaments will have nooks and crannies that can be used for this purpose. The modus operandi is a penny or heavier coin (experiment!) taped to the end of the invisible stuff. Yet ANOTHER long piece of the invisible stuff is attached to the same coin and that is used just to set the coin free from its perch in the tree. The coin falls down, the feather goes up. Since it only has to travel one way, the trick is over and youll look like Dumbledorf himself for pulling it off. True Wizards and Witches should be able to read between the lines and be ready to perform this at the next festive gathering. Yes, I sell the invisible stuff on my Web site ( Magic Nook ), or you can get it from your favorite shop anyplace in Diagon Alley. What makes this seasonal? What other time of the year do you find a tree indoors all decorated with glittering camouflage and blinding lights? I suppose you could always pose a stuffed owl someplace high for the feather to fly up to as a finale, but the Xmas tree is a natural and theres one at every party.
3) Seasons Greetings. My final offering is strictly seasonal, with no HP references. You have a collection of Xmas cards, every one exactly the same with the exception of one card on top of the stack. Now this is a standard card trick, redone for the season. I forget the name and the inventor and I have no doubt some clever Genii reader will soon supply that missing bit of information. In my seasonal version, you announce you are going to predict which Xmas card a spectator will choose from a pack of Xmas cards.
You call up a child and behind his back, you show the audience the card you are choosing (which matches the common card in the one-way force pack lets call it card A and remember all the cards in the deck are A cards with the exception of the top card that well call B). The card is placed into an envelope which has a window cut out of the back so they can always see the back of the card A that you stick inside. You place this envelope on a rack or stand it up where it can be seen at all times. Now you tell the child that you have just made a prediction as to which card he will FREELY choose from a deck of cards that are ALL DIFFERENT (wink,wink to the audience, as you show only THEM that all the cards are card A with a card B on the top of the deck). The child is now given a FREE choice of ANY card, you keep stressing loudly. Now the child pulls out a card and you ask him not to show the audience which card he has FREELY chosen (wink,wink). You remind the audience that you put a card in the prediction envelope and you get the envelope and prepare to remove the card and reveal it to the audience at the same moment the child turns over his choice. The child turns over his choice and you stagger in shock when you see that somehow he is holding card B, and not the expected card A. You do a W.C. Fields imitation as you grab the pack of cards and scatter them everywhere looking for card B, but they are all card A. Finally you return to the envelope, and do your magical gesture to reveal that it also contains, not card A as expected, but a duplicate of card B.
Youll need two card Bs and a whole bunch of card As. One of the card Bs has a piece cut from a manila envelope glued to its back. Another manila envelope, with a window cut into its back is used to hold the prediction. With the gimmicked card B in the envelope, with its back to the window, the envelope appears empty. The legitimate card A is shown, turned so its back is to the audience, and slid into the envelope on top of the invisible card B. The audience can see the back of card A through the window. When you make the final revelation, the envelope is turned around and you remove card B, never showing its back or allowing the audience to see the back of card A still sitting in the envelope. The rest of the effect is all bluff and showmanship. If you cant force the ungimmicked card B on the child using a fan force or some such favorite means of your own, turn in your wand and report for detention in the dark forest.
As a grand finale, you might toss all of the remaining card As into a change bag, toss in a ribbon, and then remove the ribbon showing a chain of all different greeting cards strung along the ribbon. This makes a nice decoration for the fireplace or the ubiquitous Xmas tree.
Members of this Genii forum can get special prices on Remembralls and that Invisible Stuff for effect #2 by following this link: http://www.magicnook.com/genii.htm