Magic shops and inventors love to push new gear—of course they do, that’s their whole job. But how do you know if that hot new effect is actually worth picking up and learning because it’s good and not just because it’s new? To make that decision, magic blog The Jerx puts new gimmicks through a routine they like to call “The Green Grass Test”. From the post:

I think, as magicians, it's easy to get caught up in the new thing. At least it is for me. And when I see the "new" thing it's very easy to fall into the trap that this new thing is better than whatever dumb old thing it's replacing.

One day I realized that was a very magician-centric style of thought. I was purchasing variations on effects just because they tickled my fancy (as opposed to my spectator's collective fancies).

So then I came up with the Green Grass Test to prevent myself from falling into the "newness" trap. The test is simply this: When a new trick is released that is a variation on an older trick—or that creates a similar effect as an old trick—I imagine that the new trick is the old trick, and the old trick is the new trick. And then I determine which one I would be drawn to...The purpose of this is to try and figure out if I'm drawn to this new version because it's new, or because it's genuinely better.

They then go on to use a trick called Off World as an example. It’s a new spin on the Out of the World routine that’s recently been making the rounds on the internet, and people seem genuinely impressed by it. But The Jerx decided to flip the script: what if Off World was the trick that’s been around for decades, and along comes Out of this World, which pulls off the same effect without any special gimmicks. Which is more impressive?

Of course, the question is rhetorical, and your mileage may vary—the brand new trick may actually be more visually impressive or otherwise better for the audience—but it’s a good thing to keep in mind while load up your online shopping cart full of new tricks to learn during the holiday shopping spree.