Party tricks

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Below are a series of little "party tricks" I've learnt. Here I define a "party trick" not necessarily as something showy, but something you might use to entertain/engage a group of friend or young kids. It's a small list, but hopefully it will grow!

  • clockwise and anti-clockwise
  • "one man felt smart, two men felt smart"

Interesting Tricks

Two sticks on the back

  • Get the person to face away and push a single stick lightly into the middle of their back and ask how many sticks are poking into their back. They will answer one. Now poke two sticks in their back (at the same time) about 15 centimeters (6") apart horizontally and ask them again. They will answer two. Finally, repeat this with the sticks only 4 centimeters (2") apart and ask them again. This time they will answer only 1. Why? We have far fewer nerve endings on our back than more important areas of skin like our fingers, and thus it's hard to distinguish two areas than one! This tricks is best performed with two sticks or pens, but pointy fingers can work two. Whether or not the subject has a shirt on doesn't matter too much.

Pushing the doorway

  • Ask your subject to stand in a doorway with hands by their sides, then lift their arms outwards till they push against the sides (the back of their hands against the door). For 1 minute (time it one your watch) ask them to keep their arms straight and push against the sides, as HARD as then can, then ask them to step forwards and relax. Instead of their arms falling to their sides they will rise up. Why? Because the mucles have been straining for so long in one direction it's natural for them to continue for a while before eventually they return to normal. If there is no doorway you can stand behind them and with-strain their hands with your own (since you don't have to keep your arms straight it will be easier for you to hold them down).

Magic arms going down

  • Ask your subject to stand lie on the floor (or bed), and make sure their shirt is tucked in underneath them so it's not hanging to the sides. Ask them next to close their eyes, relax and raise both arms directly in the air. Ask them to hold their arms here for 1-2 minutes (time it on your watch) and then (as their arms are tired), ask them to VERY slowly lower their arms towards their sides (over about 15 slow seconds). You may also like to tell them to relax and imaging the floor beneath them has vanished. As their arms near the floor they'll typically (especially if it's their first time) experience an almost magical sensation where their arms feel like they are going INTO the floor. Why? Although their arms are tired, when they were vertically upright they were taking minimal effort to hold up... but as they neared horizontal, that's when your arm feel heaviest, and after being calibrated to feel (comparatively) light, the person feels like they are so heavy they have fallen into the floor!

Fingers in order

  • In this you ask a person to outstretch and cross both hands (right palm over left), then interlock their fingers and turn both hand down and back up so their fingers face them (which feels a little awkward). Now challenge them to open each finger in order, starting with the pink closest to them. Alternating between left to right hand while staring at them in this "reversed" position is very difficult, but easier if you close your eyes.

Teleporting coin

  • This is actually the ONLY magic trick I know (I suck at magic), but this one is surprising simple and I can sometime pull it off! Simply throw a coin from one hand to the other, but on the last throw you don't actually release the coin: you keep it coin grasped in your right hand but move your left hand and close it such that you look like you're catching the coin. In one continuous movement, move your left hand in a smooth arc toward your subject, open it to revealed an empty hand, look up at them... point with your left hand to your (closed) right hand, then open it to show where the join magically appeared (even thought it never left this hand). I actually say this trick on an Australian science show called Catalyst, and highly recommend you watch the episode to understand the science behind how it works. The quick explanation: our eyes don't move smoothly, but typically jump from one "saccade" (focal point) to another.... and whenever we are moving our eyes to follow something, we are actually surprisingly blind (especially to anything in the periphery of our vision). Even though the person never saw the coin move, they could imagine it move and followed the "inferred" movement of your hand which looked like it was catching something - then to the movement of your face as you looked up - causing them to forget about the original hand.

Egg on the knee or head

  • Most people know the trick where you "pretend" to crack an egg on someones head by using your fingers on one hand to "slide" over the persons head. Some people get a weird sensation from this. Another one is to expose someones knee (it won't work well through jeans) and use the same technique where you cluster your fingers and push the knee, then push them down over the knee. To MOST people this feels like nothing, but to a small percent of the population they can't stand it - it makes them shudder, and although this fails on most people, it's fun to find the occasional person who it does work on. :-)

The length of your foot

  • This really isn't a trick, but you can tell people "Did you know your foot is the same length as your elbow to your wrist". It's an interest fact....... but what's more interesting is that the vast majority of people are so curious, distrusting and/or child-like they'll check right than and there to see if you're telling the truth. :-)

Olive glass

  • This appeared on the big bang theory (starts at ~2:40). Put an olive on the table and say you can pick the olive off the table without touching it. Put the glass inverted over the olive and rotate it around so that that it's rolling around the edge of the glass and when you life it up centripetal force should keep it inside.

Funny Tricks (for kids)

"Heads I win, tales you lose"

  • Tell someone you can flip a coin and always win, then say "heads I win, takes you lose.. okay?". Before they can think too much about the wording of this, flip the coin and see how many times you can "win" (repeating the same thing each time) before the person figures out what you've said.... this will depend largely on the age of the person! (obviously it's best chance of success if on young-lings)

Hand water pistol

  • This is fairly crude one. My hands are shaped such that I can make a farting noise with both clasped together with interlocking fingers, or when I fill with water can squirt a fair distance (~5 meter).... not everyone can do this.


  • 10 Bottle Bar Tricks - a crazy russian guy shows 10 great bar tricks... my favorite are two methods to remove a dollar bill from under an empty inverted bottle without touching the bottle or letting it fall. Solutions: #1) roll the dollar, #2) Bang the table and pull slow. Also cool: stand a beer bottle on top of three bottles and three knives. Others of his: unliftable finger.