Open ended toys for adults, toys for memory patients

Adults Need to Play too

  • Emily 

Socks, sweaters, books and picture frames are all very well when you’re planning gifts for adults, but wouldn’t you rather open a package and find a beautifully made toy? Imagine bringing that glee to your friends and parents! Open-ended toys are magic here–most of the toys children love are magic for adults too, but here are a few particular favorites for the older playing crowd.

This set of toys is a collection pulled together based on the toys adults visiting our home (focus on ages 30+) are most likely to reach for. All of them would be excellent desk toys, but they would also be stimulating sensory-rich options for elder adults or memory patients.

If you’re looking–links for shopping are embedded throughout and also collected at the end.

Open ended toys for adults, toys for memory patients

The Bauspiel Lucent cubes are a favorite relaxing and calming tool, shifting them, holding them, letting the light shine through. They are an appealing sensory experience and the play can be as simple or as complex as the day calls for. Watch the video below for one of my favorite ways to play with them.

bauspiel lucent cubes

Grimm’s Hearts are lovely in the tray, pleasing to hold and fun to stack. Every adult who comes by cannot resist picking them up to play. And better yet, giving hearts always comes with a feeling of love. (Grimm’s is geofenced: Canada , USA)

Grapat loose parts are beautiful on display and warm and welcoming to the touch. Displayed in a dish they are as pretty as any art, but they are also an invitation to sift and play. Presented with them, one is automatically drawn into mindful play, making patterns or with the rings, intricate stacks. (Grapat is geofenced: Canada, USA )

grapat nesting rings gift idea desk toy
grapat mandala parts in a tray on the grass

Mader makes some of the most beautiful spinning tops all worthy of display or desk toy status. They range from simple to start, to “learnable with practice” to “pretty much impossible”, but with a rating scale, you can easily pick the right level challenge level

Do you remember in the movie Polly-Anna, when she hangs the prisms in the window? how happy the sparkling light felt? The Bauspiel transparent windows are magical the same way. They’re lovely in the tray of course, but in a window, they’re pure magic. I borrow them to the window near my desk sometimes–the refractions projected on the wall are so happy! These would be good for any adult gift, but particularly good for someone who is tied to a desk or not especially mobile. The refractions move and change beautifully with the path of the sun.

The Dena Rainbow was an unexpected addition to this list. Its satisfying and calming to fidget, but also tolerates a less gentle touch most gracefully. Targeted at very young children, I’m struck by how irresistible it also is for adults.

There is so much focus on toys as gifts for kids, and so many sensible gift options for adults, its easy to forget how important play is for adult brains too. Adults need play to refresh and recharge their brains, and also need time to play creatively. Whether you’re planning for the holidays, birthdays, or “just because”–what toy do you think you might like to give next time?


Some of the links in this page are affiliate links. That means when you purchase through them, Building with Rainbows receives a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you so much for using them and supporting this blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.