The 14 best desk toys

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by Lauren Moison
The asuku Magnetic Sculpture Pen and the Lego Bonsai Tree as the best desk toys

Research suggests keeping your hands occupied while you work can reduce stress and boost cognitive performance, and the best desk toys can provide workplace entertainment without reducing productivity. Options include fidget toys, drawing boards, magnet sculptures, and more, and your choice depends on what kind of tactile sensations you prefer.

What to consider when shopping for a desk toy

Most desk toys are intended to help reduce stress and anxiety, but some are designed to stimulate creative thinking and cure bouts of boredom. For example, desk fidget toys such as stress balls, molding putty, and fidget spinners are popular stress and anxiety reducers, while sketch boards and mini-games offer a fun break from your workflow. Additionally, some desk toys can add a decorative flair to your workspace — options such as colorful sculptures and sand art are fun choices.

Another consideration is price. Desk toy prices vary greatly depending on the complexity of their design; intricate puzzles that provide long-lasting entertainment typically cost more than simple activities.

With these considerations in mind, I’ve rounded up the very best desk toys that are bound to add an element of fun to your workday.

1. A putty to squeeze & mold

This colorful stretchy, thinking putty is great for molding and squeezing into different shapes. It’s made from nontoxic, non-slimy silicone, and the brand promises it won’t dry out. And to make the putty even more interesting, the metallic colors change between blue, copper, purple, and red based on the light.

A positive review: “i got this to have something simple to play with to help me focus and take my mind off of my anxiety and this has been amazing! it’s super squishy and the colors are incredible.”

Recommended Ages: 3+

2. A 12-piece magnetic fidget sphere

With more than 100 possible combinations, this magnetic fidget sphere is perfect for creating little structures while you contemplate the goals of the day. It’s available in eight different colors and even includes a little building guide to get you started. While some reviewers noted the sphere is a bit small in person, one fan wrote, “Good way to use your hands while thinking or on a call.”

A positive review: “I ordered this on a lark. I’ve always loved playing with magnets and these looked so colorful and cool. I took it out of the box and immediately noticed how beautifully it is made. Smooth edges. Coolness to the touch. Strong magnets. Fun to feel in your hands. Satisfying clicks as you assemble it into whatever shape you desire. So simple, yet so perfect and soothing.”

Recommended Ages: 14+

3. A mini golf pen set

If you’re an avid golfer, or even if you’ve never stepped foot on a course, this little golfing desk toy is both fun and functional. The carrying case holds a set of gel pens that serve double duty as golf clubs to tap a mini golf ball into the hole. The pens are approximately 7.5 inches long, and you can choose between three ink colors: black, red, and blue. Two mini golf balls and a mini flagstick are also included.

A positive review: “I just recently started a new desk job and these pens are a real hit at my office. Everyone thinks they are super cool and I think they are cute and super fun!”

Recommended Ages: 13+

4. A relaxing water-powered drawing board

If you enjoy drawing and coloring to de-stress, consider The Original Buddha Board. This drawing board utilizes water to allow you to create an image before it dries and disappears completely. The board measures 12 inches by 9.5 inches, making it the perfect size for the corner of your desk, and the set includes a stand with a little reservoir for water and a groove to hold the bamboo paintbrush.

A positive review: “I work at a college in an environment where I am stressed out a lot, but I also have a lot of stressed out college students in my office! The Buddha Board is incredibly soothing to 'paint' on (only requires water' and helps remind me that tough days will fade away just like my artwork does. Several of my coworkers have this in their office too. And, of course, it's great when you're not stressed out too- just fun to play with!”

Recommended Ages: 5+

5. A set of squishy stress balls

Sometimes, we just need to squeeze something, and these colorful stress balls fit the bill. Each ball measures 2.5 inches in diameter, making them the perfect size for both your desk and your palm. When squeezed, they reveal a surprise secondary color that emerges from the inside. Plus, they’re durable, BPA-free, and “just the right texture to satisfy my restlessness,” according to one reviewer.

A positive review: “I have adhd and find it really hard to focus in meetings or really any part of life, but this is so calming, so fun, so engaging, but requires just enough brain power to focus on other things.”

Recommended Ages: 3+

6. A pen that transforms into magnetic sculptures

There are an endless number of sculptures and designs you can make with this deconstructed pen toy. The pen shell is made from magnetic tubes — simply remove the inner ink refill, and the shell can be taken apart to create a masterpiece using the included metal balls. The pen also works as a stylus for your devices and it comes in black, gold, silver, or multicolor. Plus, everything can be kept neat in the little carrying case.

A positive review: “Really cool toy to hang on my desk. It’s funny to play with when you’re in a zoom call. Helps keep your hands busy without distracting you too much. It’s got a nice case and stays together well. It’s fun to build stuff.”

Recommended Ages: 12+

7. A mini cube with 19,000+ ratings

With over 19,000 ratings and 4.5 stars overall, this desk toy is a fan favorite on Amazon. Its small size (1.5 by 1.5 inches) makes it great for discreet play while taking a break or phone call. Available in 11 colors and designs, the cube consists of eight linked blocks that can be manipulated into various shapes.

A positive review: “I work for a larger company and I am responsible for 12 employees under me. I have at all times at least 4 to 5 stress balls and fidget gadgets at my desk. These help me overcome the anxiety of 12 people asking me questions all day long about state and federal regulations. This cube is by far my favorite and I have not put it down since I got it. Shipping was super fast and the Small Fish company owner personally emails you to make sure you are happy with your product.”

Recommended Ages: 3+

8. This mini sandbox that’ll bring the beach to you

When you need a break from the daily grind, picture yourself relaxing on the beach while you play with this miniature sandbox. Complete with all of the accessories needed for a beach day, you’ll have fun raking, stacking shells, and filling your little pail with clean white sand. This desk toy measures just 5 by 5 inches, so there’s sure to be room on your desk for this mini getaway.

A positive review: “I bought this to have something fun and soothing on my desk. I LOVE it! It is just the right size to where it doesn't take up too much room, but yet big enough to play in the sand.”

Recommended Ages: 3+

9. A mesmerizing spinning gadget under $10

Check out this mesmerizing spinning ball for a cool, optical illusion toy. When spun, it creates the effect of a continuously rotating sphere that reviewers describe as “fun to watch.” It measures 1.5 inches, and according to some users, this quietly spinning aluminum ball can rotate for several minutes at a time.

A positive review: “I love this! It’s such a cute addition to my desk. There’s a calming effect with the design, a very quiet soothing noise while it’s spinning and it’s just overall enjoyable to watch. 10/10 will buy again!”

Recommended Ages: 3+

10. This highly rated shape-shifting box

This shape-shifting box, reminiscent of origami, can transform into over 70 different shapes and designs — and it’s a best-seller on Amazon with over 30,000 five-star reviews. It uses 36 magnets that help it effortlessly form into various shapes, staying that way until you mold it into something new. When formed into a box, it measures approximately 3 by 3 inches, so there’s space in any desk drawer for this fun toy. Choose from 19 colors and styles.

A positive review: “Love this thing! I bought one for a gift and then a week later bought one for myself to keep at my work desk to fidget with during zoom calls.”

Recommended Ages: 8+

11. A buildable tree that doesn’t need watering

From the much-loved toymaker, this Lego Bonsai Tree kit includes everything you need to build a model that you can display on your desk. It includes 878 pieces and comes with green leaves and pink flowering cherry blossoms so you can style the tree how you like. If you look closely, you can see that some of the pink details on the flowering branches are actually mini frogs, which make for a whimsical touch to any office.

A positive review: “I haven’t done a lego set in years But I saw this and had to get it. Best couple hours I could ask for putting this set together. I like to keep it on my desk since I know I would end up failing a real bonsai, or any plant if I’m being honest.”

Recommended Ages: 18+

12. A fun desktop bowling game

This fun, wooden bowling game might just keep you at work long after the day has finished. It comes with 10 mini pins, a wooden ball launch ramp, and a mini steel bowling ball. The alley is 11.81 inches long and features a guard at the back of the lane to keep your ball and pins from scattering everywhere.

A positive review: “I bought this for a friend and accidentally sent it to my address. I opened it and put it on my desk at work and everyone loves to play with it. I had to send another to my friend. TOO FUN NOT TO BUY!!”

Recommended Ages: 4+

13. A sleek stainless steel fidget spinner

This fidget spinner has received over 2,000 positive Amazon reviews and makes a great desk toy to use while chatting on the phone or making decisions. The pocket-size toy measures 2.48 inches long, is made of durable stainless steel, and features grips to help you hold it while spinning. With multiple ways to play and an ultra-smooth and quiet design, this fidget spinner is bound to become your new favorite.

A positive review: “I have tried many fidget spinners and this one is the best by far. It is sleek for pocket carrying. It is quiet so I do not irritate the people around me. Doesn't really come across as a child's toy, so if you are looking for a fidget spinner perfect for adults, this is the one. The multiple ways to spin is so satisfying.”

Recommended Ages: 10+

14. A set of moldable rainbow balls

Add some color and whimsy to your desk with these moldable, interconnected balls. You can create various designs by twisting and rotating the rainbow-hued, 1.25-inch beechwood balls into place. While they do stay connected while molding, they can also be taken apart and rearranged as desired.

A positive review: “All In all, I love this Art Ball. It is a great addition to my desk scape and is quiet and entertaining to play with in meetings or long conference calls. [...] The balls are made of wood and the pieces connecting the balls are very strong and hold up well. All in all, if you like desk toys or just need something to keep your hands busy in a long meeting this is great.”

Recommended Ages: 3+

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