Different Types of Giveaways To Use In Your Show

In my last article I discussed the benefits to using giveaways in your show. In this article I’ll discuss the various types of giveaways that I’ve used before. This isn’t just theory on things that I’ve seen or heard about. All of these items I’ve used in my performances. For each item I’ll discuss the context in which I used it, along with sources and examples.

Balloon Animals

A giveaway could be as simple as giving away a balloon dog. In the case of balloon animals there’s lots of ‘bits of business’ that you can include to make it entertaining. There’s the old gag of ‘accidentally’ snapping the balloon into your face while attempting to blow it up, or accidentally letting go of the balloon before tying the end off so that it flies away. These old gags have stood the test of time for a reason. On Gary Dunn’s DVD “Keep them Laughing” he does about 10 minutes worth of material just by making two balloons animals for a couple volunteers on stage. It’s a great way to get lots of entertainment out of a minimal amount of props. Watching Gary work is a masterclass in children’s entertainment. I highly recommend it!

IMG_1628For small shows you can make balloon animals for everyone at the party, and for larger shows just make balloons for volunteers on stage. Be aware though, that if you’re at a birthday party and you start making balloon animals – you’re probably going to get suckered into making one for each child. So, plan accordingly. 😉

There’s also the option of charging extra for making balloons animals for everyone at the party. Personally I’m better at magic than balloons so I stick to simple balloon sculptures like the dogs, swords, flowers, and hats. I find that by doing simple balloons I can make each one in under a minute. Making them quickly is important if you have another show to attend that same day.

Balloons are a great giveaway but they don’t carry any brand information and they don’t last very long. Let’s look at some other options…

Ball and Vase Trick

ball and vaseMy goal was to use the Ball and Vase as a general giveaway and then pitch them as an inexpensive back of room sales item for $2. They didn’t sell very well though. People were more interested in purchasing my Magic Wand and DVD so eventually I stopped selling the Ball and Vase.

I found that it was too difficult for kids to learn on their own from the instructions. I think that this trick is better suited to be part of a magic class or workshop.

Even though I don’t offer any magic classes I’ve still found a way to make use of the Ball and Vase trick. I’ll use it as a  special giveaway in a 1-on-1 situation for a child that’s interested in learning the secrets of magic. It’s a great trick for that 9-12 year old range where they can execute the basic handling and presentation. The magic of the ball and vase is quite deceptive, the secret is clever, and it can be taught in just a few minutes. I’ve found that using them in this way can create a very special moment that goes beyond just a normal giveaway and can be very rewarding on a personal level. For the right person in the right setting, it’s absolutely perfect!

The Ball and Vase sets are a bit more expensive than other giveaways plus they aren’t branded so I only use them in those 1-on-1 situations.

Coin Slide

coinslideThe coin slide is a great trick and when a kid first makes that coin appear or disappear it feels like real magic to them. And they love being able to play with the prop and discover how it works for themselves.

The problem that I had with the coin slides were the quality control. I ordered mine from Kipp Toys and they were total crap. I ended up having to throw away about 50% of them because they wouldn’t slide correctly.

If you can source some inexpensive coin slides that work 100% of the time I think it’s a great trick to include. Again, it helps to include a little tutorial if you’re going to be giving them away. It’s another item that’s great for a magic class.

Another drawback to the coin slides is that they’re quite bulky and cumbersome to carry around to shows. I’ve really enjoyed using Bookmarks or Million Dollar Bills as a giveaway because you can pack a stack of them without taking up hardly any space at all.

Fortune Telling Fish

Ah, the ol’ Fortune Telling Fish. If you haven’t heard of these before here’s a video showing one in action. These are a great giveaway because they’re so darn cheap! In fact, they’re one of the cheapest giveaways at just a few cents each.

For such a simple effect these can create quite the stir. I’ve had success using these when performing for a small group of kids. When I’m in that situation I demonstrate how the fish works on one persons hand reading their fortune and then keep going around the circle letting everyone else try it (even the parents). I’ll finish off the routine by handing out a new fish to each person in the group.

ftfThis is a great piece of entertainment to include when you’re not really “performing” but there’s still people that want you to do something interesting for. You can easily spend 5-10 minutes going around a small group letting everyone try it. You can also let people guess how they think it works. They’ll enjoy guessing how they think it works (body heat) and hearing the explanation of how it actually works (moisture on the hand).

The biggest pitfall with these fish is that the stock “fortunes” that come with them are totally lame. Seriously, why are they still putting “fickle” as a fortune?! But, don’t dispair, you can come up with your own fortunes or just steal the best ideas from others on The Magic Cafe or DocStoc. You can find a few alternatives here and here. I carry around my updated fortunes on a little piece of paper and I don’t worry about the stock fortunes included on the wrapper.

Print Outs


Another giveaway I’ve used in the past is a coloring sheet or activity sheet. The great thing about this approach is that you can get them photocopied or printed for dirt cheap especially if you stick to black and white. Unlike other giveaways described below these can be done in black and white without any sacrifice because, after-all, it’s a coloring sheet.

Another approach is to just have them available for download from your website for parents to print. Personally I include my coloring sheet in my party guide that parents can choose to print off as an activity for kids at the party. Downloads are great because they’re a value added piece that doesn’t cost any extra money to offer!


A variation on the Print Outs I talked about above is to giveaway bookmarks for library performances. A bookmark giveaway is great because it’s easily customized to whatever theme they’ve chosen for that year.

Here’s a bookmark I designed in 2013. The theme that year was “Up, Up and Away”. On the front of the bookmark I included some subjects that were related to the show. On the back of the bookmark was a trick that the kids could learn as well.


The first year I created a bookmark I printed them out on my home computer and it was a total pain in the butt. It was cheaper but it’s quite difficult (make that, nearly impossible) to get a double sided page to align correctly on an inkjet printer. For the following years I had my bookmarks professionally printed by a local print shop instead.

Million Dollar Bills

PAM-SampleThere are several Million Dollar Bill giveaways on the market for magicians,but the concept of ‘funny money’ is a common concept used by marketers.

The first one I saw was Dean Hankey’s “Thanks A Million”. Dean’s design has that classic look of American Money.

These should not be confused with those fake $100 bills that are actually business cards. *shudder* Nobody should be using those. They’re incredibly tacky and create a terrible first impression for your business.

Canadian Mill Bill

I loved the concept of the Million Dollar Bills but as a Canadian I wanted something that looked like a Canadian Bill. That’s when I designed my own Canadian Mill Bill.



Other magicians loved them so much that I designed them for some other guys to use as well. My friend Donald still uses my version of the Canadian One Million Dollar bill as a giveaway at his shows.


These were created back in 2009. Since then all of our bills have been updated to the new polymer variety and the design has changed.

I used this combination of a “bookmark” and “million dollar bill” for my library tour last summer. The idea to include jokes on the bill came from Karrell Fox’s book “Clever Like a Fox”. On page 178 he describes his “Karrell’s Krazy Kurrency” which is a novelty million dollar bill that also has some jokes on it.



If you would like me to design a Million Dollar Bill or Giveaway Promotional item for you, please send me an email.

Hopefully these examples have inspired you to use giveaways in your shows too.

Have you used giveaways in your show before? Let us know in the comments below. As always, don’t forget to ‘like’ and share this article on social media.