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The Etiquette of Gifting a Vibrator for the Holidays

The Etiquette of Gifting a Vibrator for the Holidays

The Etiquette of Gifting a Vibrator for the Holidays

You probably won't find a vibrator (or any sex toy, for that matter) on your average holiday gift guide - which is for a good reason. It's not for everyone, and choosing to gift a vibrator should take a bit more careful consideration than say, gifting a phone case or a Netflix subscription.

That being said: if you're a savvy gifter, a vibrator can truly be the perfect gift for the holidays.


Why gift a vibrator?

As vibrators have been gradually promoted over the years from kinky Bachelorette party gag gift to something that mothers are giving to their daughters, friends are earnestly talking about with each other, and gynecologists are referring to their patients, they're becoming an increasingly acceptable, albeit outside-of-the-box gift to give the people close to us. 

In fact, Tenga's 2019 Self-Pleasure Report shows that men and women both feel increasingly comfortable being gifted a sex toy from a close friend. Already, 65% of young women are gifted their first vibrator from a friend. 

This increase in comfort has come alongside a building awareness of the benefits of a vibrator as it applies to women, their partners, and their autonomy in pursuing pleasure more broadly. Gifting a vibrator isn't just about giving someone a tool to masturbate with; it's about encouraging the recipient to take time for themselves, explore themselves, and feel good. 

 

In gifting a vibrator, you can take the first step for someone who is reluctant to get one for themselves. 

Even those of us who talk openly about sex might feel a little awkward or embarrassed to take that first step into a sex toy shop or ordering online, but could still be interested in trying things out. Taking away that initial step by gifting a vibrator removes that barrier and may even encourage the recipient to explore sex toys on their own in the future by modeling your own ease in the process. 

There may also be reluctance for someone to buy their own vibrator because of the expense. With most quality vibrators costing $100+, they might not be convinced that it's worth their own money or could have a sense of shame around spending that amount of money on something we've been largely conditioned to associate with only hyper-sexual people and situations.

Not only is sex and sexual pleasure totally normal, but it also has no less value in our lives than any other form of leisure or entertainment. Making this purchase for someone is putting your money towards a worthy purpose - something we don't necessarily need, but that we absolutely deserve. 

 

If it's for a partner, a vibrator can benefit both of you. 

Men and women are both most comfortable receiving a sex toy as a gift from their partners (as opposed to friends), probably because you're more likely to have already had conversations about intimacy and sexual desires with this person, creating a natural extension into sex toys. 

While a gifted vibrator should be about your partner first and foremost, as should any other gift, there's a lot to be said for exploring vibrations together. Whether it's a small vibrator incorporated into penetrative sex using it on a partner during foreplay, or watching a partner use it on themselves, there are endless ways to enjoy it as a couple. 

Even if your partner only uses the vibrator for masturbation, it can help them explore what they enjoy and then share that back with you. A study from Indiana University showed that over two-thirds of men are not intimidated by vibrators and women might have an even stronger drive towards their partner who gifted it to them. Most importantly, gifting a vibrator won't mean they'll suddenly abandon sex with you - vibrators are awesome, but they aren't sexy, warm, breathing humans with pheromones, genitals, and tongues. 

If you're going to your separate, respective homes over the holidays, a vibrator could maintain a special connection while you're apart. 

 

It's a promotion of overall self care and sexual wellness. 

Like anything else a person can do to take care of themselves, access to pleasure is something we should all be able to autonomously partake in. Whether it's for a close friend, a partner, or a family member, a gifted vibrator could be looked at in the same vein as gifting a massage or a night at a fancy hotel. 

When gifted with the right approach (see below), you aren't sending the off-putting messages of "you seem sexually repressed, here's a vibrator" or "seems like you could use an orgasm", but instead you're saying "you work hard, I admire you, I love you, and I want you to feel good and take time for yourself." 

 

How to gift a vibrator: 

Communicate before, not after. 

A gifted vibrator shouldn't be a tool to open up the first-ever conversation you'll have about sex toys - it should be the result of open, candid conversations that you've already had. Meaning, a vibrator shouldn't show up in someone's stocking as a complete surprise. 

Drop hints, share a bit about yourself to open up the floor, and test the waters. If you really don't know where to start the conversation, bring it up in the context of a story. You could tell them about something you read, or something someone said about vibrators that's interesting. Find a natural opening to learn more about what your friend, family member, or partner thinks about the subject broadly, and once there, look into what they might specifically want. If it's with a partner, while in bed might be a good time to bring it up as part of larger conversation around what you want to explore more of together and independently. 

Having conversations about sex isn't always easy at first, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. And the more light-hearted you can make it, the less tension there is. Take that leap and be open to whatever comes from it. 

 

Be (very) mindful of the gift presentation. 

While the path to normalizing masturbation and sex toys is in talking about it openly, the audience is not necessarily a room of relative strangers, whether it's during a family Christmas morning gift-opening or at a restaurant during a holiday date night. It's ultimately a very personal gift and the safest rule of thumb is to assume that any recipient of a vibrator would appreciate being pulled aside to receive it one-on-one or be instructed to open it later in private.

The best option is to find quiet time, away from any main event, when they can also feel free to take it out and admire it. 

Some nice extra touches are to include batteries (if it's a battery-operated vibrator) and a special pouch or carrying case, which most vibrators already include, but you should double check. 

 

Stick with simple & subtle (unless otherwise specified).

There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to vibrators, so it's best to err on the side of simplicity, unless something very specific has been discussed. Look for something small and non-threatening but versatile.

Aesthetically, a vibrator that is a neutral color and non-phallic will probably play off best. If the recipient wants something even more discreet, there are mini-vibrators that look like lipstick or elegant jewelry

 

...or let them choose for themselves! 

Whoever you're thinking of buying a vibrator for might already feel perfectly comfortable exploring a sex toy online or in person, but they just haven't gotten around to it or don't want to spend their own money on it. They may even be well-versed in the realm of vibrators already and could have a collection to build on. In this case, a gift card or certificate is the perfect way to give them a thoughtful nudge while leaving room for a bit more autonomy to make the decision that feels just right for them. 

If it's for a friend or family member, it could be fun to include some recommendations of your personal favorites to give them a starting point. If it's for a partner, offer to go shopping together to make for some fun co-piloted decision-making. 

 

Trust your instincts. 

If you find that you're spending a lot of time debating around whether or not it's a good idea to gift a vibrator to someone and you don't feel comfortable approaching the subject in conversation, there's a good chance it's not the right move. 

If you're able to bring up the subject of sex toys in conversation but it's not met in a receptive way, take that as a signal that they're probably not ready to be gifted a vibrator at this time. 

If you really want to get someone a vibrator but come up empty, it's a fail-proof gift for yourself, every time. 

 

What not to do: 

Under no circumstances are vibrators an appropriate gift at work. 

Even if you work from a company that sells sex toys. Just don't do it. 

 

Don't make assumptions or assertions on someone else's sexuality. 

While buying your favorite vibrator for someone else is a great approach when gifting, don't automatically place expectations or pressure on the recipient to have the same mind-blowing experience with it. Look at it as a way to open up the floor for them and then be a background support system as they explore their own sexuality. Saying "This is something that I personally really love and wanted to pass along for you to try out for yourself" is plenty - they can take it from there. 

It's also completely normal for vibrators to simply not work for some people, even though they're a complete must-have for others. If your friend tells you that it didn't quite do the trick, don't take it personally and simply look at it as another way we're beautifully different from one another. 

 

Don't give someone a vibrator as a gag / joke gift. 

As humans, it's totally normal to use humor as a way to mitigate certain uncomfortable situations. In most sexual circumstances, having a sense of humor about the awkward, noisy, or otherwise funny things our bodies do together can drive intimacy and relieve pressure.

However, there's a fine balance of humor when you gift a vibrator. It should be light-hearted, but avoid the temptation of shrugging it off or laughing at as something that's silly or gross. In doing that, you could be inadvertently promoting the stigmas around female self-pleasure and sex toys as things we should be ashamed of (which, we shouldn't!). 

If you and the recipient have had conversations related to sex and sex toys ahead of time, giving them a vibrator can and should be fun while ultimately making it about the recipients' autonomy is seeking pleasure. 

Ultimately, successfully gifting a vibrator comes down to communication and instinct. On top of already knowing the person on the receiving end really well, you should do everything in your power to make the gift fail-proof by communicating about it ahead of time.

This is the one kind of holiday gift you shouldn't try to keep a total secret in advance.