For most of us, the holidays are a time of stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and a whole bunch of other uncomfortable feelings. Sure, even the most curmudgeonly among us is bound to experience the occasional, fleeting flash of peace, joy, love, and good will toward man. In these ephemeral moments we’ll pick up a few toys and drop them off at a donation center, write a check to our favorite charity, and send our mother a card – hoping she’ll assume we’ve sent everyone a card and will therefore stop bugging us about the “need” to remember friends and loved ones at the holidays, even if they’re no longer friendly or loved.
Meanwhile, we’re bombarded with holiday office parties, re-gifted fruitcakes, spiked eggnog, rampant consumerism, endless plates of dry or overly sweet cookies, preachy religious dogma, Christmas music, neighborhood get-togethers, sappy holiday-themed movies, and the fact that we’re not enjoying any of this as much as we’re supposed to. Unsurprisingly, at this “happy” time of year even emotionally healthy people seek the odd moment or two to escape and dissociate. Some people drink a little bit more than normal, others give in to the two-pound box of hand-dipped chocolates, and still others get laid. And none of these behaviors are unhealthy, per se. A couple aspirin will cure most hangovers, some extra time on the Stairmaster will eliminate the extra flab, and a little bit of sex never hurt anyone – unless that sex is unsafe, with the wrong person, or engaged in for wrong reason.
Ideas for the Married/Committed Couple
If you’re married or in a committed relationship, the holidays provide a terrific opportunity to build and share emotional intimacy, express love, and truly be present with the person you care about the most. Plus, “getting busy” with your significant other is a great way to alleviate holiday stress, work off a few pounds without needing to wipe down the equipment afterward, and maybe even spice things up in lasting ways. Consider the following suggestions:
- Give the gift of sex. Stuffing your lover’s stocking with a book of “sex vouchers” offering to do that special thing that makes him or her purr like a Christmas kitten is a gift guaranteed to thrill even the person who has everything. Don’t worry if that special something is not your favorite sack-time activity. When you’re giving it as a gift from your heart, it’s likely to be a lot more meaningful and enjoyable. Plus, your significant other just might reciprocate by doing whatever special thing it is that drives you wild.
- Spice it up! Has your sex life gotten a little bit stale? Maybe it’s time to spike the holiday punch, so to speak. Write down three things you’ve always wanted to try but have never had the courage to ask for. Have your partner to do the same. Then pop open a bottle of wine and share your fantasies. The simple act of discussing your innermost desires builds emotional connection in ways almost no other activity (including actual sex) can. Maybe the two of you will decide to try a few things, and maybe you won’t. (Probably you will!) Either way, the real gift here is the emotional intimacy created by a frank, open, honest discussion. And if you do expand your sexual repertoire, you’ve found a gift that keeps on giving all year round.
- Make a date with your spouse. The holiday season is incredibly busy, what with all the shopping and baking and decorating and family visits and… It’s all very stressful. To combat this, set aside a bit of “alone time” for you and your spouse. Light some scented candles, put on some romantic music, and ease away your troubles with a hand or foot massage. (If you think a hand or foot massage isn’t erotic, you need to think again!) Before you know it you’ll be neck deep in the best sex you’ve had in ages.
Ideas for Single People
Holiday hookups can add pleasure and excitement to an otherwise blah season. Whether you’re meeting with a regular “bootie call” partner or cruising for someone new at a local club, on Facebook, or on a dating website or smartphone hookup app, you may want to consider the following:
- Add a holiday theme to your sex date. Bring a gift along. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. A box of chocolates or a Christmas tree ornament can turn a run-of-the-mill casual or anonymous encounter into something special. Dress like an elf, ask to sit on Santa’s lap, belt out Frosty the Snowman during coitus. Do whatever you want, as long as it’s fun, goofy, and not the same-old, same-old.
- When Santa (your sex partner) asks what you want for Christmas, be honest. Don’t pretend you’re looking for a relationship when all you really want is oral sex. Likewise, don’t act like all you want is a “quickie” when you’re really seeking a long-term commitment. Keeping secrets about your sexual and romantic desires eventually puts both you and your partner in an awkward situation, as he/she will find out sooner rather than later what it is you want (but didn’t disclose up front).
- Give the gift of safety and respect. Yes, I’m talking about condoms. Regardless of your gender, you need to pack a few before you set out on any sex date. Grab some red and green ones, or peppermint flavored if that’s your thing. Just make sure you take them with you, and use them. Let’s face it, STDs and unwanted pregnancies are horrible holiday presents.
Sexual Sanity Tips for Everyone
Sadly, a lot of people make bad sexual choices this time of year. Office parties are notorious for ill-advised hookups, and I’m pretty sure that Baby New Year is the patron saint of regrettable one-night-stands. Unfortunately, such liaisons are rarely without consequence. Really, the best you can hope for is that you don’t pick up any dread diseases, your spouse doesn’t find out about your extramarital dalliance, and you don’t run into Sally from Accounting or Bob from the Motor Pool every single dayfor the rest of your working life. The following sexual sanity tips take this into account and are meant for everyone, married or single:
- Don’t get drunk at the office party (or any other social event). Alcohol is disinhibiting, and over-imbibing greatly increases your risk for making a bad sexual decision. Sure, after a few cocktails photocopying your butt while kissing your office-mate probably sounds like a good idea, but it’s not. Avoid this situation by NOT drinking.
- Don’t seek out ex-lovers, ex-spouses, or old hookup partners during the holiday season. These people are in your past for a reason! There is no need to resurrect a bad relationship. Before you pick up the phone for a desperation ex-lover bootie call, take a moment to remember why you broke up. All of those reasons are just as valid today as when the relationship ended. Trust me: being alone is a lot better than wishing you were alone.
- Do not have sex just because you’re lonely or otherwise feeling bad about yourself. Grab a cookie instead (not the whole plate), or better yet talk about your feelings with a friend, a loved one, or your therapist. For most people, the simple act of sharing uncomfortable feelings with another person is enough to dissipate those emotions.
The holidays are supposed to be about joy, intimacy, and connection with loved ones. But they are also a time of stress, disappointment, and disconnection. Taking time out to express ourselves sexually (in a safe and sane fashion) is a great way to feel included in the festivities, and to recharge our emotional batteries. So, whether you are in a committed relationship or happily playing the field, the holidays are a great time to pay attention to your sexual fantasies, urges, and behaviors, making sure to avoid sex when it is inappropriate or unsafe, and to joyfully engage in it when it builds your self-esteem and intimately connects you to another human being.