At parties where there is a lot going on (like typical weddings, large bar mitzvahs, fundraisers), or where people are coming and going (open houses, corporate hospitality suites, BBQ's), strolling magic alone is usually the best fit. First, it keeps the party rolling, while never requiring it to stop. I think of it like a juggler spinning plates. Wherever I see the party needs a little energy, I head right over and get it spinning again. Then, when all the plates are spinning along just fine...I go back around and spin them a little faster!
Second, it works for all ages and combinations at an event. After 20 years of parties, I have a really large repertoire of magic, and aim to do the most appropriate tricks at that particular moment for the exact group I'm entertaining. For instance, if I'm at a table of 40-year olds, I will perform a different "set" than I would at a table full of 5-year olds or 12-year olds. Further, all those sets would be different than if the table was a combination of 5, 12, and 40-year olds. Frankly, that's where my 20 years of experience pays off. Call me a magic jukebox...I can play Sinatra, Springsteen, Maroon 5...or the Wiggles!
"Magic Show". The name usually brings to mind doves flying from silk hankies...fire and puffs of smoke...and scantily clad assistants. Well, that doesn't really exist much outside of Vegas showrooms, where it works great for people who don't know each other. That's the key difference concerning magic done at parties. It shouldn't be about the magician...it should be about your guests. It's about the fun we are all having for the few brief hours all your friends are together. How much fun can I pack into that time? THAT'S my goal...and my show is geared toward doing exactly that. Sure, I do amazing tricks (really amazing tricks!), that's a given part of the show. It's what we do together ALONG THE WAY with these tricks that makes the difference. I'd rather your guests talk about all the fun and laughs we shared, than where I got the bird from. They didn't come to your party to watch TV, they came to have a good time TOGETHER. Plus, I design the show for the exact age-spread of the audience, and can insert personal or company themes when we discuss the event.
There are times when both strolling and a show make perfect sense. Mainly, at birthday parties, anniversary parties, corporate dinners, fraternal banquets, holiday parties, and family events where there isn't a DJ or band that is trying to keep the dance floor filled. A show can be a great exclamation point to an event all by itself, or act as a great intro or finish to a series of speeches or awards. Let's take a normal company or association Christmas party. I will do strolling magic during the cocktail hour and between courses at dinner. Then, after dinner, I will normally do a 20 or 30 minute show, getting as many people involved as possible. I may even produce CEO Santa from a big gift box. After the show, gifts and yearly bonuses are handed out. Bingo...Happy New Year.
Or, maybe your country club is having a ladies night before a member/guest tournament, and you need a theme. Well, magic is an easy theme to build around, and provide decorations for. I meet all the ladies during the cocktail hour while strolling, then come back after dinner for a show that gives everyone something to talk about on the course the next day. I usually recommend doing strolling if I'm going to do a show, that way I hit the stage "warm", with a roomful of friends, who trust me and are wiling to come on stage much quicker than if I'd started cold. Works like a charm.