Last Updated: 21 Nov 2020


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Office Toys & Fun Stuff for Startups

This is a quick list of ideas for 'toys' and other developer stress relief items that are cheap and fun.

  • Get a game system. If you’re going to go this route, you need to get the latest and greatest (such as the Xbox 360 or the Nintendo Wii), and you need to get extra controllers. Almost all of these systems support up to four controllers; many can be networked so you can play eight or sixteen player games. It isn’t much fun to play by yourself, so if you’re going to spend bucks here, spend the bucks to get a decent setup.
  • Get things to throw around and/or shoot (nerf, etc.). This is always popular, and rather cheap. Get nerf balls, nerf guns, and other things that can be thrown at people. Of course, they shouldn’t actually hurt, or have the potential to break things, but the dumb stuff can be good stress relievers. And you actually can buy these at Wal-Mart.
  • If the office is somewhere near a field or other open space, get some outdoor gear, such as Frisbees, a soccer ball, or the like. You may want to put an ‘Outdoor Use Only’ sign on these…
  • If you’ve got a nice TV (such as for that game system mentioned above), then buy some DVDs, cable service or other content to go on it. Get something short and light… it’s a lot easier to take a break if you’re watching an episode of Simpsons or South Park than if you’re watching Lord of the Rings.
  • Buy exercise mats. You may even get healthier employees out of it.
  • Buy those big exercise balls. They’re great for doing exercises, and they’re also great for sitting on if you need an extra chair for a meeting.
  • Get bean bags. Big ones. Good to drag around the office for informal meetings and shooting the breeze.
  • Of course, there is always the famous foosball table. A pool table is good too, although by the time you figure in the amount of space needed around it, it starts looking expensive. You’ve almost got to dedicate a room to it, and if you’re paying Manhattan real estate costs, that isn’t always easy to do. The local pub may be a better option.
  • Get a bar. Bamboo Worldwide in Chicago did this, and they use it for both after work gatherings, letting loose, and parties. Apparently, one of the employees liked it so much that she got married at company HQ.
  • At the very least, get a fridge and stock it with beer. And don't stress if somebody drinks in the middle of the day.

Also consider giving everyone a toy budget, and letting them buy and bring in their own toys. Or have a standing offer to reimburse people for toys.

Discussion, May 24, 2008 02:27 AM

Wiffle Ball
Sports for nerds. As a bonus, it delivers a relatively even playing field between those who rely on physical gifts and those who want to analyze the motion of the ball.

Important note: make sure to buy the authentic Wiffle Ball™, replete with the long yellow bat. It's patented technology, man… and in this case it's actually better.

Of course, this requires going outside – but takes a surprisingly small amount of room.

Also worth noting: true wiffle ballers make up absurd rules. Hit the octopus and you are OUT., May 24, 2008 02:31 AM

Ping Pong

We started our company about a year ago now, and the ping pong table came only a few months later. I must say that it was one of the best things we've done around here in terms of creating an enjoyable environment. It's perfect in the sense that it gets your eyes moving, you can really become skilled at the game, and its perfect for creating a competition ladder with everyone in the office.

We recently acquired a ton of cubicles, so there isn't exactly a lot of room for the table anymore. We also have a dart board, but I don't consider it to be half of the fun! Do purchase or find a used ping pong table if at all possible, you'll be happy you did!

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