This party trick is great fun. We did it at our son's birthday party when he was 11, and the kids loved it - it still gets mentioned sometimes, nearly 10 years later! Our black cat got into the act, too, but we hadn't planned that.
It would also be fun for Halloween.
The set-up takes a little preparation and fiddling, and you need 2 accomplices, but there are no really special materials. I didn't buy anything when I made it, but you may need to get some supplies- check the list of what you need.
Step 1: What You Need
- 3 rooms- preferably not right next to each other; one that can be darkened, for the Tomb
- Candles/incense etc for atmosphere
- Spooky/strange music – borrow a CD from your library, or even record yourself playing a strange tune on any instrument or chanting/singing an odd melody in a weird voice
- An accomplice #1 to herd the victims- sorry, applicants-
- An accomplice #2 to hide in the casket and be the “mummy”- preferably someone not too tall
You will also need a costume for High Priest/Priestess- e.g old strange dressing gown/ draped sheet or doona cover, some jewellery around neck/head... doesn’t have to be elaborate
For King Tut’s casket -materials needed (see picture):
- Cardboard from one or more large cartons- enough to make the sides of a “coffin” shape large enough for your accomplice to lie in, about 30-35cm/12-15 inches wide/deep. You can join lengths together.
- A large piece of material for the shroud – as Egyptian- looking as you can- or plain black, purple or other colour- a sheet or bedspread is fine
- A pair of shoes – adult size
- A pair of gloves – plain material if you can get some, or you could use rubber gloves; soft stuffing so they look like hands (and something soft, like a couple of towels rolled up, to make “arm” shapes)
A small dish or bowl (or decorated silver lid) with a small “treasure”- e.g. piece of costume jewellery or plastic beetle “scarab”
To make King Tut’s mask- see step 4 – cardboard, gold paper (wrapping paper/chocolate box liner) or gold paint; blue or black paper/ribbon/paint for stripes; blue or black permanent felt pen
Notes- I’ve made this fairly roughly, just to show the set-up (the mask has lost a few gold stripes and got a bit bent from use) - but you can get the idea. Keep your room as dark as possible to cover any flaws. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, because everyone knows there’s a trick coming- they just anticipate something different ;)
Step 2: The Procedure
The “Applicants” (guests) are gathered in a Waiting Room, and Accomplice #1 explains to them that they have been able to borrow a special mummy from Ancient Egypt, just for the night, and the lucky guests are going to be able to see it, just briefly. There is an ancient legend that goes with the mummy: it has a very precious jewel (or scarab), which no-one has been able to take.... only someone very pure of heart will ever be able to take it, (and only on a special night of the year...). Over the centuries, many have tried, and failed. However, there is a chance that one of the people here may possibly be the Chosen One...if they are Very Pure of Heart... the High Priest/Priestess will escort the applicants, one by one, to try their luck.
The High Priest/Priestess takes one person at a time into the Tomb (darkened room with incense/candles/spooky music etc), and announces something like “Oh Mighty Ra, we of the Merginal Night and the Temple of Joomen-Ra, stand before you in our ancient quest to win the Sacred Scarab/stone/jewel. I bring with me into Your hallowed and magical presence, an earnest Applicant -one who is Pure of Heart and gracious of Deed. May it please you to release to him/her the Magical Talisman!” After a bit more mumbo-jumbo and mysterious communication with the mummy, the applicant is told he/she may step forward and try his/her luck to take the Treasure.
The guest sees a casket with a body in it – at the head, ancient Egyptian mask, and its gloved hands are holding the small plate or bowl with the Treasure. All the focus is on the head and hands, and of course they’re expecting someone to do something as they reach for the treasure... but when someone pops up from the FOOT of the corpse, they always get a shock!
When the laughter dies down, the High Priest/ess leads the applicant to another room (away from the others still waiting for their turn, so they don’t spoil the joke), and returns to the Waiting Room to lure in another victim.
(Meanwhile, you will be in the Waiting Room, psyching up the waiting Applicants with spooky stories/movies/ "facts" abut mummies and ancient treasures...)
Step 3: The Set-up
Make your “casket” as in fig.1 to fit your “corpse” (Accomplice #2) lying the wrong way round (feet at head end) with a bit of extra room at the “foot” of the coffin:
Cut the cardboard into strips of about 12-14 inches/30-34 cm wide, and arrange in the shape of a coffin - see fig. 2. Tape or glue the strips together. You can put in a floor if you really want to, or even cover the sides with draped cloth, but it's not necessary.
The shoes get put at the “foot” of the coffin (fig.3). The accomplice lies with his head just in front of the shoes. You can put a cushion on his feet and to make a "head" shape. The folded towels are placed to make "arms" (see Fig.4). Drape the cloth over your accomplice completely (make sure he can breathe OK!).
The mask is placed over his feet, and the material arranged over the folded towels to look as if “arms” end in the “hands” (gloves)-with the “treasure” between the hands - see fig. 5 & 6.
Darken the room, have your candles/incense burning and strange music playing for atmosphere. (You may also want to drape cloths over any furniture in the room so it’s a bit more mysterious).
That’s it! The trick is in the build-up, and the anticipation of something happening- and all the focus on the “face” and “hands”, so that when the accomplice suddenly sits up from the other end, it’s totally unexpected.
Step 4: Instructions for Making the Mask
Assemble the materials - see fig. 1.
Draw the shape of the mask on the cardboard and cut it out.
You can just decorate it flat if you like (see last 2 photos for ideas). I used gold paper from inside a chocolate box (glued on with PVA or craft glue), and decorated it with blue florist ribbon strips and gold gift tape, stuck on with clear craft glue. The features were drawn on with blue marker.
If you want to make it a bit 3-D, cut out the face and wig parts separately - see fig. 2 , decorate as in fig. 3-5, then add rolled-up sticky tape (sticky-side out) - fig.6- to join the pieces together. I padded the lips slightly before gluing on, and creased the nose to make it stick out a bit, too.
You can have fun with the mask, and make it look as good as you like, as this is the focal point.