Dear Em & Lo: Can I Give a Sex Toy as a Present?

Dear Em & Lo,
Is it ever okay to give your partner a sex toy as a holiday present?
Making my list, checking it twice,
–Toys R Us

Dear TRU,

Yes! But. It can’t be just any sex toy, it can’t be just any packaging, and it can’t be just any partner. That said, a sex toy is always a better holiday present than itchy, scratchy, slutty, crotchless underwear. Actually, even a lump of coal is better than itchy, scratchy, slutty, crotchless underwear.

The Toy

Make sure you buy something that’s actually built for your partner’s pleasure, rather than some gimmicky bachelor/bachelorette party gag gift. If your partner has always wanted to tie you up, then give them the gorgeous Sutra Chainlink Cuffs (they’re sophisticated and a hell of a lot more comfortable than police-issue cuffs) with a handwritten permission slip. Or if their trusty Hitachi Magic Wand is finally on the outs after a decade of loyal service, then get them a Smart Wand (it’s waterproof and rechargeable, unlike the Hitachi, and it won’t wake the neighbors either). Or for something more tailored for two, try the Oden 2 couples ring in classy black.

If you’re not sure what would float your partner’s boat, take them to your local sex toy retailer after a romantic dinner and tell them to pick any toy in the store that takes their fancy. Or if your little sex shop on the corner is the kind where men in raincoats tend to loiter, then log on together instead: Our friends at GoodVibes.com have just about everything you could possibly want, from cheap and cheerful hard plastic vibes to blinged-out couture toys. And for a classy, sophisticated, gorgeously packaged gift, you can never go wrong with anything sold at LELO.com. Better yet, give your partner a copy of our brand new book, 150 Shades of Play: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink, along with a hand-made gift certificate promising whatever their heart desires, be it a gimp suit or a bottle of massage oil. Whatever they decide on, it should be made of body-safe, phthalate-free materials.

Whatever you do, don’t use this holiday season as the excuse to “surprise” your partner with something that you think might freak them out — like, oh, say, an extra-large black strap-on dildo. If you’ve never even broached this topic with your guy before, this kind of gift is likely to send his penis crawling inside his body in fear. If you’re not sure, err on the side of sensual rather than hardcore: massage candles or saucy blindfolds rather than nipple clamps. A fun stocking stuffer like the  Tantra Feather Duster by LELO (picture) is a good bet — they’d have to have a heart of coal to not find that cute. Or just give them something that serves as a promise of sex in the very near future, like LELO’s Indulge Me Pleasure Set, which comes complete with a gift card for sharing fantasies.

The Packaging

At this time of year, it might be worth the splurge on high-end toys — their packaging alone will probably put your partner in the mood. But if you’re not looking to spend $3,900 on a little 24K gold-plated  vibrator (really? you’re not?) and toy you really want to give isn’t available from a reliably classy packager like LELO.com, then just go DIY: remove your toy from its nasty porn star packaging and create your own “dick in a box.” Try chocolate brown tissue paper with a pale blue or pink ribbon. Or a black padded gift box with luxurious ivory ribbon. (Just remember that whatever you put in the package should be made of high quality, body-safe materials that are phthalate-free.)

The Partner

Much as it pains us to say it, not every man or woman would be thrilled to receive a sex toy for Christmas. Some people might find it a little gauche. Others might have been hoping for something in a Tiffany’s box instead. Still others might consider it the equivalent of getting a Dustbuster: sure, it gets the job done, but that doesn’t mean it deserves a place under the Christmas tree. To be on the safe side, never give just a sex toy. Give something else with it that shows a lot of care and a distinct lack of dirty thoughts: a handmade mistletoe wreath, a candle-lit dinner, a handmade gift certificate for a no-returns-allowed, one-hour, full-body massage (okay, so maybe that last suggestion isn’t entirely devoid of dirty thoughts).

Happy shopping!

Em & Lo


  1. Aaron, as a woman, I would never ever ever give my friends or sisters sex toys. This is NOT because I am not open about sex with them – because honestly, I am (with the exception of a VERY young sister… I don’t think it’s my place to introduce her to that). It’s because, for me at least, gifts tend to relate to who gave them to me… And I would really rather my friends and sisters not be thinking about me while masturbating.

    The only way that would ever happen is like a novelty toy at a bachelorette party. But I’d probably just bake a penis shaped cake instead.

  2. I think if you and your partner like toys then it’s a great idea. I mean whats better than the gift of pleasure? Certainly not a blender or a bad knitted sweater with a snowman on it.

  3. Please, if you do, make sure your partner is emotionally ready for the toy, you have discussed it or something like it, and your partner is OK with it.

    One year a while ago, my man “surprised” me with a phallic vibrator. I had never had one before, I was not as sex positive as I am now (I liked sex, just wasn’t as open) and he had ASKED if I wanted one, and I said no. We were in bed a few night before Christmas, I was stressed out (because we always have Christmas at our house) and he just put the thing in my hand. I freaked out, threw it at him, swore at him, and ran downstairs to cry. I felt terrible, in two ways because 1)I told him several times, I didn’t want one and 2) I KNEW I should open up more and be more positive and relaxed.

    The damn thing sat in a drawer for a while, and finally one night I suggested we try it. I found out if was really fun, I found out we both really like toys, and we have since expanded our collection, with both of us buying the occasional toy, video etc. I recently bought a new toy which has him very intrigued and a little freaked out, but we haven’t used it yet. 😉

    My point is, PLEASE talk to your partner, if you have never used sex toys before. Some people need a more gentle introduction than others. And some people need to make the decision of WHEN to start to use that toy as they learn more about themselves and know they can trust you.

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