Health & Support

Naughty or Nice? Sex Toys for the Holidays

Forget spiked egg nog, sex toys can really give your holidays a kick.

If you’re searching for a sexy something for your special someone, a sex toy could really … hit the spot.

A little unconventional, maybe, but who needs to stick with plain vanilla? Certainly not you — if you don’t want to. According to sex toy manufacturer LELO, the majority of their customers are women, and we couldn’t be happier to see women taking their sexual pleasure into their own hands. But sex toys don’t have to only be used solo. In fact, LELO said 70% of their customers are in relationships.

While there shouldn’t be any shame in shopping for sex toys, we know it’s not exactly something you learn about in school, and we thought you might have some questions. So, we asked certified sex therapist and HealthyWomen Women’s Health Advisory Council member Emily Jamea what you need to know if you’re thinking about bringing home a sex toy for the holidays.

“If you’re buying sex toys for a partner, they can be a fun way to add some novelty to the relationship,” Jamea said. But, she added it might be a good idea to bring the idea up first even if it’s just through hints or questions. “You don’t want to spring sex toys on someone. A lot of times you can’t return them, and they can be expensive.”

Here are some sexy gift ideas for the people who’ve made your naughty list:

  • For a partner or friend who could be nudged into a little adventure. “Handcuffs, blindfolds, restraints and costumes — a little light bondage — make a great entry into sex play without being overly intimidating,” Jamea said. “Products that introduce anal play, such as butt plugs and beads, make it fun to try new things. Couples might need to take baby steps here. What’s comfortable for one person may not be comfortable for another. Listen, meet your partner where they are and ease into it — especially with anal toys.”
  • For a partner or friend with a penis. C-rings, also called penile rings, can help spice things up in the bedroom and may include attachments that vibrate. “Anybody with a penis can use them, but they’re especially great for a male partner struggling to maintain an erection,” Jamea said. “I recommend these a lot for people who are going through sexual anxiety.” Vibrators aren’t just for women, either. There are also insertable vibrators for men.
  • For a partner or friend with a vagina. A vibrator is just one of many options for vaginal and clitoral stimulation. “Technology has come such a long way,” Jamea said. “There are vibrating panties you can control with your phone. Your partner can activate them from the other side of the world. They have vibrators that vibrate to the beat of the music you’re playing. They now make toys that use air pulses instead of vibration.” Decide whether you want a product that just provides clitoral stimulation,, or one that inserts into the vagina — or both. There are also plenty of low-tech, non-vibrating dildos that come in just about every size, shape and purpose.
  • For a partner or friend who is struggling to enjoy sex (because of pain or changes in desire). Pelvic floor muscles contribute to the enjoyment of sex, and these can weaken after menopause. “There are new toys coming out all the time that focus on pelvic floor strengthening, such as kegel balls,” Jamea said. Vibrating Ben Wa balls combine pleasure with self-care exercises. Lubricant, which can be silicone-based or water-based, is also a great gift for postmenopausal women, and there’s no shortage of flavors and types. Jamea noted that water-based lube must be used for silicone sex toys.
  • For a partner who likes to play together. Double headed vibrators or couples’ rings are designed to be worn during sex and can be used when you’re getting intimate with a partner of any gender.

What to keep in mind when shopping for adult toys:

  • Make sure your sex toys are made from safe materials. Some people have allergies to plastics, such as latex. Toys made from silicone or ABS plastic are a good alternative. They have a sensual feel and they’re non-porous, body-friendly and waterproof.
  • How to clean sex toys. The sex can be dirty, but the toys should always be clean. There are cleansers specifically designed for sex toys, which can be sprayed directly onto the toy, then rinsed with water after five seconds. You don’t need a special cleaner, though, Jamea said. “Any gentle, mild soap with warm water is all you need.” Avoid soaps with oils, silicone or abrasives. After cleaning a toy with soap and warm water, store it in a protective container. A plastic container or bag is great, Jamea said. “Just make sure they’re fully dried before storing them.”
  • Charge it. Toys can recharge using a cord or battery. Battery-charged toys are more portable and less restrictive, but they don’t usually last as long. Also, it’s important to keep them charged so they don’t fizzle out just when you’re feeling frisky.

Still have sex toy questions?

There’s no shame in visiting a sex shop. They’re usually sex-positive, no-shame environments. Vendors come in and educate the salespeople, so they’re generally well-informed. Don’t be afraid to go in and ask questions. There’s nothing you can think of that they haven’t heard before. Trust us.

Now, get going — and give the gift of getting it on.

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