I'm looking for an item that can play quietly in the background, but still play big. By "play big," I mean, be a crowd-pleaser. Let me give you a little background on what I want first. The piece I'm looking for is something that I can play off-of, so I originally considered a version of the Treasure Box (I'm a hobbyist, so making something like this would be simple, too). The treasure box I can play off of by introducing a mystery as to "what happened to all the stuff I brought in the box?" or "I know there was a secret to opening this box... what was it?" Thus, the box itself sits in the background while several clues are found (a la Blues Clues (but not)). It's confusing to describe, but the general point is that the box begins as empty, the audience and I discover how to properly open the box, and when we do, it's full of.. something.
Now, I want to play birthdays, so I'm considering the Mikame Birthday Surprise box, which seems to be a more practical-looking version (and somewhat different mechanics) of the dove pan. There are two problems I see: (1) I don't think it can't be left open, or seemingly empty like the Treasure Box can (although mostly), but that's not too big of a deal if I don't draw much attention to it; (2) I haven't seen any reviews on it.
Also, it's $150. Probably worth the price, but more than I can pay right now.
Has anyone used this or heard of someone using this and how satisfied were they/you? Any other thoughts/ideas that may help?