The holiday's are upon us! Food, family, giving thanks and a wave of visitors that can feel like it lasts clear through to New Years. In the sex writing world, this can mean something else is “upon us” too and it’s one of my least favorite parts of the year: a bevy of articles exploring whether it’s OK to have sex while visiting people, how you can navigate having sex while visiting people, why some people never visit others because, hey, they want to have sex, and generally how this sex thing is an issue at the holidays. Why do I dislike this so much? Well, it implies that there’s something inherently inappropriate about having sex in someone else’s home, and that it’s something we all need to psych ourselves up for. And that just feeds into the whole “sex is inappropriate” thing. I’m not saying you need to get it on on the couch in front of grandma but do the holidays really need to be so sex negative?
This Is Not Another Article About Not Having Sex During Holiday Visits
I think there’s a better way.
When you stay at my mom’s house she has a pretty basic approach to hosting: she leaves you towels and a tells you where stuff is and then, as far as she’s concerned, you live there. You don’t need to ask for stuff or tiptoe around. You just get comfortable. Hungry? Get food from the fridge. Tired? Have a nap. Break a dish? Stuff breaks sometimes, that’s life! I wish we could all respond this way to guests. I notice people tend to calm down, get comfortable, and are a lot more fun in this situation. My mom does take a couple extra steps around her house to facilitate this. I already mentioned the towels, but she also keeps instructions for her WiFi and televisions written down and prominently displayed in her guest room, and she leaves mints and toiletries out so folks know it’s cool to use stuff. In other words, she does a little prep work that makes everything cooler for everyone.
Now, I currently live in a teeny, tiny little apartment. But if I had a guest room, you had better believe I would be the sex positive version of my mom. I would have a sex positive guest room. A space where guests would know that it was totally cool to get down on it … or not, either way. So what would that entail? Check it out.
Setting Up a Sex-Positive Guest Room
Fun note: These things already exist in my mom’s guest room (good job, mom!) In other words, these things make guests more comfortable - whether they choose to have sex or not.
Provide a Trashcan
I have left far too many guest room situations with a condom wrapped up in my bag after my partner and I realized that there was absolutely no trashcan in the room. I think people forget this because guest rooms are frequently “extra” rooms and end up being treated like a no man’s land where spare items land and people rarely hang out. Give your guest a trashcan.
Stock Tissues and Towels
This is just nice from a practical, “it’s winter” perspective anyway but, seriously, make it easy on folks to clean up after themselves. The same goes for towels. They're handy for a number of reasons, including helping people keep things clean during sexy times.
The Next Step
Now, if you want to get a little Martha Stewart while making your guest room sex friendly, here's how to to take it to the next level.
Provide Safer Sex Items
If you think guests will be into it, you can always provide condoms and leave them visible (whether in a labelled box or out on display), and accessible. If you really want to go that extra mile, keep some different kinds on hand. I like to keep non-latex condoms (because you never know who is allergic) in different sizes handy. Dental dams and gloves would also be nice here.
Leave Some Lube
Again, make it visible and accessible. I advise small sample packets as they look really cute, allow folks to choose their own kind, and avoid that peepshow-communal-lube-pump feel.
Provide Cleanup Options
Baby wipes are a good addition here. Once again we're back at "make clean up easy", especially if there's lube around.
The Full Monty!
Roll out the sexy welcome mat! If you really want to be an all-star sex-positive hostess with the mostest, greet your guests with some inexpensive toys just for them. Here are a few suggestions.
These sweet little easter-egg-packaged masturbation sleeves say “Make yourself (and your penis) at home!” They're also disposable.
There's nothing like a little vibrator to say “Thank you for coming!”
These essential oil bars are a way to tell your guests that you want them to be happy and comfortable. (Sorry folks, no sexy joke here. I just like massage bars).
For some folks, the holidays are stressful and taking away sex makes that worse. For other people, the holidays are a blast and saying sex is off-limits puts a damper on that. The holiday season means a lot of things to a lot of people. So does sex and there’s no reason to burden one with the issues of the other. Especially when an issue like shame-y sex negativity is so unnecessary. Maybe you won’t put out a bowl of vibrators, condoms and masturbation sleeves for your guests this year (it would be cute, though!) but maybe you’ll at least think twice the next time you hear someone declare that sex over the holidays is a no-go. That's a start!
JoEllen is a writer, speaker, researcher and mental health advocate whose work explores the impact of depression on sex and relationships. Since 2012 she has written about sex, mental health, and how none of us are broken on her award-winning site The Redhead Bedhead.
JoEllen's book The Monster Under the Bed: Sex, Depression & The Conversation We Aren’t Having is now available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook.