Fun desk accessories
November 16, 2014 7:43 PM   Subscribe

Do you have anything on your desk that is a fun distraction?

I have a young relative that recently graduated college and got his first job. He's working in an office, and I'd like to buy him something fun/cool to have on his desk. What things do you have on your desk that you, or co-workers, find amusing and good for a few minutes of distraction?
posted by aviatrix to Shopping (24 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
A set of felt-tipped colours in a cup and a copy of The Secret Garden to doodle through- the postcard version is particularly nice too. There's something about doing all the purple bits, then all the yellow bits, then all the blue bits, until you end up with a fully-coloured tiny picture, that is very soothing. You can get mandala-type colouring books meant for adults too, lots of small bits.
posted by viggorlijah at 7:46 PM on November 16, 2014 [6 favorites]

For me it begins and ends with Buckyballs. Stress-relieving just to crunch them around in my hand, and good for some high-precision-fiddly distraction when I want to make a dodecahedron or something.
posted by supercres at 7:51 PM on November 16, 2014 [5 favorites]

A miniature working catapult. Contains a pencil sharpener in order to justify the location among the office supplies, but its main purpose is sneak attacks of Skittles and candy corns at unsuspecting foes.
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:53 PM on November 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've been meaning to get myself some Kinetic Sand to keep in a box on my desk. I feel like building sand castles could be especially enjoyable when on boring conference calls.
posted by lollusc at 8:05 PM on November 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

I keep a magnifying loupe in my desk drawer. Lots of things are fun peeping at at 5x/magnification.
posted by Scram at 8:20 PM on November 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had this solar powered Japanese sushi chef bobblehead on my desk. It's fun to watch it nod and tap the sushi with its fingers, and it reminds me of the Japanese culture of caring deeply about your craft and producing work that's to the best of your abilities.
posted by GamblingBlues at 8:24 PM on November 16, 2014

Lava Lamp. Chaos and a great eye strain reliever. Also people know I'm about when it's on.
posted by nickggully at 8:51 PM on November 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Similar to GamblingBlues, I have a solar powered Tom Brady on mine and I am feeling especially satisfied right now.

I did not pay even a fraction of that amount. Holy shit.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 9:00 PM on November 16, 2014

Not quite what you're looking for, but I have a Brain Fart. It's your basic squeezy-toy that is shaped like a brain and feels like one of your typical stress-relief squeeze-toys. But inside it has an electronic gadget that makes fart sounds. It's basically irresistible to people who like to fiddle with crap on your desk when they come in, and will surprise and disarm anyone who hasn't encountered it before.

I've got BuckyBalls, as well as Ball of Whacks, the latter of which is sold as a creativity-inspiring toy. Its pieces are easier to find than runaway Buckyballs, but they're both good. Buckyballs are a complete no-go if there are little kids around (offices vary on this)-- swallowing one is fine, and swallowing 2 at the same time could cause a serious GI problem.
posted by Sunburnt at 9:42 PM on November 16, 2014

I have a fishbowl on my desk. Instead of water and a fish, however, mine is filled with ideas jotted down on little slips of paper which are folded again and again until they can be folded no more. I call it my ideaquarium. The "ideas" are things I wrote as photo titles and liked enough to jot down and toss in the fishbowl. They're things like this:

"In This Land Of Milk And Honey, Cows And Bees Don't Get The Money"

"I'll be the camera because I have the view. You'll be the film because you are so negative."

"She Was Only Seeking Ollie In The Alley To Set His Oxen Free"

"Though She Says She Doesn't Love Him, He Knows It Is A Lie. She Loves Him In The Way The Moon Does Love The Sky. Every Night She Drifts Away. She Never Says Goodbye. But Tomorrow Is Another Day, And Once Again, She'll Try."

"The Weight Of The Wait Is Never As Great As The Bait Of The Date."

"Nobody knows the real me, said the forest to the treete."

"Only The Hotel Knows What The Ho Won't Tell."

"She Built A Wall To Keep Him Out, But Now It's Locked Her In, And Though She'd Deny It To The End, That's How The Monsters Win."

"T Is For Thom Who Thinks He's The Bomb, But H Is For Hate, And That's How She Feels About The Pretentious Spelling Of His Name."

"It's The Lack Of A Loss Of Applesauce"

"He Left To Find Some Inner Peace But Came Back Home With A Can Of Peas. And Though His Failure Felt Titanic, At Least He Knew They Were Organic."

Aaaaaanyway... my fishbowl is filled with that stuff, jotted down on folded up slips of paper, and it's become a really neat sort of thing to keep on my desk. People always ask about it and then reach in for one, which usually leads to them reading a bunch more - usually aloud. Some people ask about whatever they just read... some don't. The fishbowl has proven to be quite the conversation piece. Initially, I started saving those photo titles to use as writing prompts for short stories, but after a while, I found myself saving them just for the sake of putting something I liked in the fishbowl.

Seriously... if any of this sounds neat to you... get a little fishbowl and a stack of post-it-note sized paper. Jot stuff down. It's bizarrely cool, and it's way more personal than anything you could buy.
posted by 2oh1 at 12:34 AM on November 17, 2014 [6 favorites]

When I worked in an office, I loved my lava lamp for the reasons mentioned above. I miss it now that I work at home with two cats who would make short work of one.
posted by jgirl at 5:17 AM on November 17, 2014

I have the Smiley Face Bendy Man. I see they also have bendy zoo animals, pirates, dogs and cats, etc. So he might like a set to create fun dioramas.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:51 AM on November 17, 2014

I have a kaleidoscope and it's nice to look through in the doldrums of the afternoon.
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:11 AM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have one of these Stretchy Noodle Ball Yoyos right now in the public space of my desk and every single person who comes to talk to me has picked it up and stretched it several times, sometimes walking away with it while they swing it up and down. It's very zen. (Maybe it's ok because mine is a solid color and it has our corporate logo on it??? Or maybe it's just fun.)

Other favorites have been magnetic sculptures and Liquid Motion games/toys.

That website has all kinds of categories of office toys to choose from. I think I have seen ALL of them at one point or another on someone's desk.
posted by CathyG at 7:38 AM on November 17, 2014

Oh, related to the fishbowl above - one of my coworkers has a fishbowl filled with fortune cookie fortunes, which had been received over the years while at lunch. The bowl is labeled "Free Fortunes - Everyone's a Winner" and people stop by to read a few. Everyone who goes out for Chinese food puts their fortunes in there after lunch.
posted by CathyG at 7:40 AM on November 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

Think Geek is a good source for this kind of stuff. In addition to BuckyBalls (do they still sell those?), I have had various tins of putty including the Smart Putty from Think Geek.
posted by elmay at 7:46 AM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Glass jar with a lid, full of Lego.
posted by ersatzkat at 9:05 AM on November 17, 2014

I love this Mood Calendar.
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 9:10 AM on November 17, 2014

When I worked in an office, I had kind of an absurd number of desk toys but one of my favorite items was a simple candy/gumball dispenser (mine was shaped like an alien head; YMMV). It was like having a bird feeder, but for coworkers instead - people (even more stodgy-seeming people I wouldn't have expected) would come by for candy and a chat, and over time would start bringing in other kinds of candy for me to fill it up with, and it was a great way of getting to know some of my colleagues I otherwise wouldn't have had reason to talk with much ... since my job at the time was one in which good working relationships were perhaps more critical than long stretches of uninterrupted concentration time, the candy dispenser turned out to be a lot more fun and useful than I'd expected.
posted by DingoMutt at 11:08 AM on November 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

One of my coworkers has a Perplexus ball that I find irresistible and maddening. Although based on how far I've gotten, I would consider one of the easier versions for starters.
posted by thejanna at 11:16 AM on November 17, 2014

My wife bought me this Tetris lamp with moveable light-up pieces. Everyone who comes into my office loves it.
posted by tacodave at 3:55 PM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's not a toy, but everyone comments on my hand cell phone holder. It's fun to have on my desk.
posted by Joleta at 7:15 PM on November 17, 2014

I have a desk lamp that has a full-spectrum light in it and a tray to hold a plant, it's very uplifting to have some life at my desk.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 10:06 PM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I keep a few twisty puzzles to play with. If Rubix's Cube is too complicated, a Pyraminx is much easier.
posted by yeti at 11:51 AM on November 18, 2014

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