Life

Sex Toy Advent Calendars Are Everywhere, But Are They Any Good?

Ho ho ho! This festive season, I gave two calendars – that's 24 toys in total – a try.
The author is photographed from a bird's eye view, laid on the bed surrounded by sex toys.
All photos: Philippine Dujancourt

For the past few years, if you’re still on Facebook, you’ve probably seen some headlines cropping up around November from the likes of The Sun, LADbible and Cosmopolitan along the lines of “Now You Can SPICE Up Your Festive Season With a SEX TOY Calendar Worth £1,000!!!”

Now, partially due to the market being saturated with sex toy advent calendars, and partially due to the financial potential of affiliate marketing, they’re written up as pure search engine optimisation bait (e.g. “Ten of the Best Sex Toy Christmas Advent Calendars to Buy in 2021”). 

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I find sex toy advent calendars fascinating, because in my opinion, Christmas is not a horny time. It can be a romantic time, a fun time, a boozy time – but it is not a horny time. 

Eating a piece of chocolate from behind a cardboard window, yes, OK, I can make time for that in the festive season. But charging, deciphering and using an entirely new sexual apparatus on a nightly basis in December seems entirely stressful to me. December is the time for the worst hangovers of your life, desperately searching for a toilet on Oxford Street, wrapping up your pre-holiday corporate responsibilities, and mince pies. 

 In December, the best I can hope for solo-sexually is to make a few woozy reaches for the old faithful vibrator under my pillow to help me sleep. So sex toy advent calendars strike me as an invention for people who have too much time on their hands (literally). Nevertheless, they regularly sell out with rave customer reviews, like this one for the Lovehoney 2021 women’s set, titled “Xmas is deffinatly [sic] cumming”.

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So I decided that this year, I would try a couple of these pleasure boxes, to see if I could actually stump up the libido to wank with a new toy every night and write about it.

The author holds sex toys in her arms with her tongue sticking out.

After a quick email, Lovehoney enthusiastically posted me their “12 Days of Play” Sex Toy Gift Set for women, as well as the box for couples

I started my window opening on the 8th with a bullet vibrator, which happened to be the same day as my work Christmas drinks. Despite my best intentions to use my new gift when I got back that night, I felt like a boiled Brussels sprout – completely lifeless. I plugged it in, but I did not turn it on. 

The next day was more of the same. I managed a half-hearted bathroom wank with my new bullet (which to be fair, was very effective and looked very festive in metallic red). However, day two’s “orgasm balm” has always translated to me as “potential yeast infection”, so I applied a cautious dab around my wrists and enjoyed it like a strange perfume, taking the occasional sniff to wake me from the stupor of my holly jolly hangover. The sex dice from the couples’ box laughed at me mockingly.

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The sex toys are scattered over the bed.

On the third day of sexmas, I received a finger bullet sleeve and a crystal butt plug. The bullet sleeve was an easy addition to day one’s gift, and didn’t require any further finessing or charging, so I enjoyed it. The butt plug felt like it would require a bit more careful attention, so I set it aside to deal with at a later point.

The candle and mask I opened the day after were further easy accessories. My Saturday was taken up with an ill-fated Christmas shopping trip followed by an all-nighter birthday party, which left no time for wanking. I have still not yet used the mask in any sexual context, but it was an absolute essential when I went to bed at 4AM on Saturday night. 

And so the days progressed, revealing kegel balls and mini wands, G-spot dildos and massage oil. I was not really using any of it. Who could possibly have the time for this? Then on Tuesday evening I had a splitting headache, and by Wednesday I’d got a positive lateral flow COVID-19 test. Omicron was delivering me an early Christmas present. 

The author holds a magic wand in one hand and lateral flow test cassettes in the other.

Though I’d initially been opening windows one at a time, with ten days of self-isolation (and my deadline) on the horizon, I knew it was time to rip open the remaining cardboard doors and get going. With a new set of anal beads on my bedside table, I felt hopeful about the prospect of no social contact allowed.

This would have been idyllic, had I been able to summon any libido at all over the first few days of having COVID. And don’t forget – December is the time for wrapping up your corporate responsibilities – so despite being on a work-from-bed schedule with a fat new stack of sex toys by my side, hustle culture and a deadly virus were keeping me far too busy to touch myself. 

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Three days later, it was getting to me. You know when you open your knicker drawer and there’s that one pair you just never wear because they’re too tight, or pull at your labia in a weird way, but every time you open the drawer they look up at you and make you feel bad? That was how I was feeling about the new dildos from my advent calendar. Especially when I dared use my old faithful. 

The author holds the sex toys in her arms.

By day three of my isolation, I couldn’t deal with the guilt anymore. With the working week over and my deadline now just three days away, I spread all the items out on the bed like a silicone buffet – just what Jesus would have wanted to mark the countdown to his birthday. 

I slathered some lube on the butt plug, loaded up my porn site of choice, and tried to get in the mood. Though I like both butt plugs and porn, it did feel a bit like I was forcing it. But I persevered. Using three toys at once with a glass of red wine by my side is the closest thing to an orgy you can get in self-isolation. Some might say it’s a preferable alternative. 

And suddenly, my symptoms were so much better. My headache started to clear, my muscles stopped cramping, I didn’t feel like complete shit and I could start to enjoy what I’d wanted to spend isolation doing: watching And Just Like That, feeling physically sick every time Boomer Miranda came on screen. 

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The author holds the magic wand like a microphone.

I spent the rest of the weekend in an ordered routine: wake, TikTok, YouTube workout, wank, breakfast, TV, wank, write, wank, more TV, takeaway, vanilla candle, wine, write, not sleep, then wank again to soothe my muscles. Before COVID, I was supposed to be having a Christmas dinner with my housemates and travelling to my mum’s house over the weekend. There’s no way an extensive wanking schedule would have fitted into that timing-wise. In some ways, getting Omicron was my Christmas miracle.  

When I first ordered the advent calendars, I’d expected them to be a write-off. I’d thought it would be impossible to give yourself that kind of pleasure in the happiest but unhorniest season of them all. But thanks to The Virus, I was given that chance. I slowed down, I challenged myself, I touched myself. I lit candles. I made my own butt plug nativity set (see below). 

The butt plug, dildo and anal beads are arranged around a candle like a nativity scene.

If you’re self-isolating over the festive period, don’t order a gingerbread house kit to do in your room and eat alone like a sad Henry VIII. Just order a load of sex toys – if nothing else, it’ll make the hours pass so much quicker. 

@iamhelenthomas