What are Desk Toys?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

Desk toys are fun and usually silly gadgets and toys made for office workers. They make wonderful presents for those who spend lots of time on the job and need a break from a stressful working environment. They are usually inexpensive and can be found at toy stores and gift stores, as well as many websites.

Desk toys make classic gag gifts for adults.
Desk toys make classic gag gifts for adults.

Some desk or cubical toys are actually children’s toys or classic gag gifts for adults. Kitschy items like Barrels of Monkeys®, Mr. Potatohead® dolls, or Rubik’s Cubes® are often given as desk toys. Meant to be distracting and charming, these toys can give you a sense of familiarity and nostalgia, and can be a stress reliever.

Desk toys may help alleviate tension for a person who works in a stressful environment.
Desk toys may help alleviate tension for a person who works in a stressful environment.

One consistently popular office toy is the Zen garden. These inexpensive novelties usually consist of a shallow wooden box filled with sand. Usually the set includes polished stones or Japanese-inspired pieces like small pagodas, as well as implements that are used to brush the sand into patterns. Many people find this a relaxing experience, and will enjoy rearranging the setting in aesthetically pleasing ways.

Many desk toys are technologically oriented, perfect for any gadget lover. Simple machines and pendulums are fun and usually fairly simple. For the true technology lover, you can easily find solar powered or perpetual motion machines, hovering globes, even singing magnets. Toying with these gadgets can be fun and distracting, and allow a hard worker to catch a well-earned break.

Some offices and workplaces frown on desk toys as a disruptive and distracting issue and regulate or prohibit the use of them. While of course playing with toys should not replace the time spent working, forbidding any personalized touches or fun items can do significant damage to employee morale. Allowing workers to have fun items such as desk toys will make them feel more comfortable, more appreciated and more at home in their office. In large corporations, it can also show potential customers or clients that the organization is comprised of individuals rather than being faceless. However, excessive displays can detract from a healthy and serious working environment and should understandably be moderated.

Finding desk toys for a hard worker can be fun, and such the large selection allows for many tastes. Not all desk toys are silly in nature, like the Zen garden, they can add to the beauty and peaceful atmosphere of an office. Choose desk toys to match the personality of the recipient, but take care to consider their working environment and whether the toy is appropriate. A rubber chicken might be perfect for your friend’s sense of humor, but if they work in a funeral parlor, it might not be an appropriate gift.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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