We continue the list of magic adjacent gifts you may want to ask for this holiday season...
The biggest change I made that transformed me from someone who dicked around with magic and performed mainly for my couch cushions, to someone who had an ever ready workable repertoire of material that I showed real people on a regular basis, was getting my shit together organizationally. I covered the basics of my system in this post on organization.
Organizing your ideas and your props makes rehearsing the effects in your repertoire so much easier, which makes you more likely to rehearse regularly, broadening your repertoire, and not limiting you to the same two tricks you always do.
I like to have my repertoire broken up by the requirements of the effect: The effects that just require a normal deck, the ones that require a deck and a marker, the ones that require a normal deck and one or two gimmicked cards, the ones that require a special deck, the ones that use normal coins, the ones that require gimmicked coins, the ones that require everyday objects, the ones that require small gimmicks.
I then store all of the requirements for each grouping together so I can run through them regularly and rapidly. I don't just keep my magic gimmicks organized, but also normal objects that I might need for a trick. That way I'm not constantly looking around for the right coins I need, or a pen, paper clips, rubber bands, or whatever. It's all ready to go.
Here are some of the storage boxes that I use:
Akro Mills Hardware and Craft Cabinet - For storing all types of small gimmicks. Tell people you want it to put your nails and screws in, like a real man. But don't oversell it. Don't be like, "I promise you, I'm not going to be keeping fake thumbs and manipulation thimbles in there, like a bitch. It's more for tools and tool parts. Things which I definitely know the name of."
Vaultz Locking Utility Box - I've mentioned this before. This is a small pencil-box sized box. I use it for the stuff I'm currently most excited to work on and/or perform. Then it's almost like a toiletry bag. I travel a lot so when I go somewhere I can just grab this and know that it will have the stuff I'm most interested in playing around with.
Quiver Game Card Carrying Case - In my old organization post, I was using wooden cassette cases to store my decks of cards. Once I left my place in Brooklyn though, I ditched those. Like a Seven Mary Three song, they would be too cumbersome to lug around with me. Instead I got these Quiver cases. Each case holds around 22 decks. I wouldn't suggest buying them for your fancy decks you want to display. But if you have a number of gimmicked decks, these are a good option for holding those. Each of my gimmicked decks or one trick decks has a little code written on the bottom so I know what it's for. And when I want to rehearse them, I just pull out the full case and go through the decks one at a time to keep the working and the handling fresh.
Just search around for storage boxes that fit your needs. For my purposes I don't want a big huge box with everything in it. Instead I prefer a series of smaller boxes and cases set up for a specific type of material. But you may have your own organizational style. And for you, maybe some big thing like this would fit that style. Whatever keeps you organized and makes performing and practicing easier is a good thing.
Cards and Coins
These things aren't "magic adjacent." These are examples of props you can use in your actual performances, but that you don't have to send someone off to an online magic store to buy them for you.
It seems that most of the collectible decks of playing cards that are put out by Ellusionist or Dan and Dave can be found on Amazon. For instance, I asked for the Rocket Deck this year.
I prefer to ask for one of these collectible types of decks of cards rather than just a brick of Bicycle cards or something. That may be more "useful," but it's like asking for a 24-pack of paper towels for Christmas. Practicality isn't very festive.
When I get a gift of a deck of cards, I'll generally put it with my other collectible decks and have it stacked for a specific trick. Then if the person who gave it to me visits and comments on the deck, I'm ready to go into a trick on the spur of the moment.
Coins are also a great option for a technically non-magical gift that you can, obviously, get a lot of usage from as a magician. I don't do too much coin work with half-dollars/silver dollars, so I'm not the best to comment on that. But if I did, I'd take the opportunity to maybe ask for some semi-rare (or at least unusual) coins. Imagine I ask for four Walking Liberty half dollars. The person who gave me those as a gift is now going to bring a different level of interest when I perform something with them. And, if after the fact I buy a matching shell or something, that will add to the deceptiveness of the trick, because they're thinking of the items being used as seemingly being limited to those items they bought. They almost have the innocence of borrowed items.
You can ask for magic books, of course. But what I'm really talking about are books you could buy to serve as Hooks to allow you to get into your material.
The idea is not to use these things as part of your presentation. The idea is—as described in the Hooks post—just use them as that first domino your friend knocks over that eventually gets you to a trick.
This isn't about turning tricks into bizarre magic. If you make these things part of your presentation you will lessen the interest they can generate. That's been my experience. Once you start going into some long-winded dissertation about this stuff it becomes a "show" not an experience.
Be casual about it and let the other person draw the connections.
For example, they pick up The Grand Grimoire. "What the hell is this?" they ask, flipping through it.
"Oh, it's nothing. Well... supposedly it teaches you how to summon and control demons but I don't really-- Actually... do you want to try something weird?"
That's going to grab people. That's going to intrigue people. It may even scare people.
But if you're like, "In 1521, Antonio Venitiana del Rabina, prepared a book transcribed from the genuine writings of the mighty King Solomon, which were obtained by pure chance...." And you go on and on with some lecture, you've turned your Hook into just a prop. And now you're doing something that has been rehearsed and planned, which is the enemy of gripping amateur magic.
Coming Friday, the final half-dozen or so items you might want to ask Santa to bring you if you haven't been a naughty little boy.