I don’t table-hop anymore, only very seldom. But when I was doing it more regularly, here is a little strategy that is easy to make, doesn’t cost a lot and is fun to perform. This gets all your props in a handy case, supplies an additional performing surface on the dining tables full of cutlery, and makes for a strange introduction.
When I was booked in a posh hotel in Berlin many years ago, they forced me to stay around the hotel lobby and spot the victims for my nagging close-up magic. But I didn’t want to run around with that doctor’s bag or stupid boxes, left alone the aluminium attaché cases from the home supply store. So I got the idea to switch over to a chess box! You can get these cheap at eBay.
The box takes all the equipment for two or three table-hopping sets of about 5-6 minutes duration, depending on the stuff you perform. I covered one side of the outside with felt to ease the card and coin work. I left the other side as it is. This is now your new case, which you even can put onto the table at a corner. That way, you have a little stage for your miracles.
But the best thing is the approach. So you walk around in the restaurant or hotel, with the closed chess box under your arm, the checkers’ side showing, the felt side against your body. People will perceive you as a person running around with a chess set, not as a magician at first. Approach the table, put on your “I am the greatest” smile and ask, who ordered to play a game of chess between the courses of the meal.
Now enjoy the puzzled faces, smile and deliver the usual line: “Nobody? That’s fine, lucky me, because I don’t play chess, and I am the magician of the house.” Start to perform your first magical wonder.
Because I stopped doing the table-hopping and leave that field to the new generation, I prefer to play chess on the board which fits an older adult better than walking around dinner tables (with a chess board).