The Ultimate Guide to Buying Sex Toys for Other People

Takeaway: Want to buy someone special a sex toy as a gift this year? Read this first.

Let's talk about gifting sex toys. Obviously, as something that gets used during sex, sex toys require a certain finesse in giving that may not necessarily be the case with other types of gifts. (You can give virtually anyone a mug without fear of offending or embarrassing them!)

That being said, like all good gifts that really surprise and make your recipient happy, gifting sex toys can be worth it because of their luxurious design. Yes, a new vacuum is certainly a new gift, but is it really something the recipient wanted?

They may have needed it, but "want" and "need" are two different things. When it comes to limited budgets, most people consider sex toys a non-necessary item—even if having a sex toy would drastically improve their sex lives and relationship with their body.

That's why gifting a sex toy is so special; it allows you to encourage the recipient to focus on their pleasure instead of all of the other constant things we have to pay attention to on a daily basis.

Sex toy gifts are most commonly given between people who are romantically or sexually involved. That being said, we also recognize that we live in a much-more-open sexual environment than that of our grandparents!

I know I've gifted some of my friends sex toys in the past, and you might be looking to do that as well! Giving a friend a sex toy—especially when that friend is a close friend who has regularly discussed sex with you is totally okay— and we highly encourage it. Let's destigmatize sex! (But also, maybe don't give them that gift at the holiday work party.)

No matter who you're giving the gift to, gifting a sex toy might be outside of your usual wheelhouse of expertise. Most of us can pick out a t-shirt or a mug for the people we care about. But sex toys? A lot of us can't even narrow down the sex toys we want to buy ourselves! (Seriously, I have a whole wishlist full of 'em!)

So, let's talk about some of the specific things you should consider for giving sex toys as a gift—and give you some tips to ensure the recipient loves the gift as much as possible:

The Research Phase

First, let's focus on getting some research in. Before you can actively shop for a sex toy for someone, you need to have some basic idea of something they would enjoy. There are hundreds of thousands of toys out there; if you don't have a starting point, it can be really hard to narrow down your choices. So, let's start by narrowing down our toy choices:

Discover Your Recipient's "Loves"

Let's do some discreet research. Have you seen their sex toy collection? Do you have explicit permission to see that collection? (Don't go digging around in their stuff if they've never invited you into their world of sex toys, but if you know where they keep them and regularly interact with them and their toys, this is similar to trying to ascertain someone's bra size to purchase lingerie).

With that in mind and with the utmost respect for their boundaries in mind (if you think they'd be bothered, don't do it!), check out their current sex toy collection. Pay special attention to the types of toys they buy.

Are they all external toys? This means a dildo will probably not be appreciated. Are they all masturbation sleeves? That means a prostate massager is probably not a great gift. A lot of people have particular pleasure spots they enjoy the most, so paying attention and purchasing toys that target those pleasure spots can usually be a great way to start.

Buy an Old Favourite

We know, we know: it's way more exciting to buy some new, knocks-their-pants-off sex toy for them to try. But at the same time, pay attention to their current sex toys. Do they have a Magic Wand with a fraying cord? They'd probably appreciate an upgrade since their current version is on its last legs. Has their Fleshlight lost some of its realistic material sensations? Maybe a new Fleshlight variety would be a great choice.

The Magic Wand

The Vibratex Magic Wand is a classic

Is This Their First Toy?

Is your gift recipient brand new to the world of sex toys? If so, we really want to encourage you to stop here and think about this. Are sex toys something they've talked about in the past? Do you have any reason to believe they'll enjoy receiving sex toys?

While a lot of people's hearts are in the right place (and we always applaud you! Better sex is totally something worth giving!), some people are generally uncomfortable around sex and sex toys—and receiving a gift of a toy might be more unpleasant than pleasant.

If your friend or partner has particularly mentioned wanting to try sex toys—but never having "taken the plunge", definitely go full speed ahead!

But if your sex toy gift recipient has regularly mentioned reservations about toys and you think they "just need to try one!" in order to fall in love with toys, we highly recommend rethinking your choice. Just like all parts of sex, consent with sex toys important, and if you don't think they'd consent to receive a sex toy, it's better to skip it.

Go Sex Toy Shopping Some Night

This is especially easy if you're purchasing items for an intimate partner. Make a date night of sitting with your partner and browsing a sex toy store's selection. If you want to ensure this remains a surprise, we recommend doing this months-in-advance of your potential gift-giving day; your partner will likely have forgotten by the time the holiday rolls around.

Make particular mental notes of specific toys they mention (excuse yourself to the bathroom to make a note on your cell phone if you have to!), and don't forget to pay attention to the other things they say as well. Most people will voice their likes/dislikes during this process, so you can get a whole lot of great information from doing this—not to mention some hot foreplay!

If this happens to be a friend, you might have to be a bit creative to get them to spill about their most wishlisted toys. Consider a casual conversation about "What would you buy if you had $250 to spend on a sex toy?" or ask for a recommendation for a new toy because "yours is dying". This can give you some vital information you can use for picking out a toy for them.

Making the Purchase

Now that you have some ideas, you need to actually take those ideas and turn them into action by purchasing a sex toy. Especially if you're new to buying sex toys, some of these tips will help you select a good toy for your partner—no matter what "type" of toy you're looking to buy.

Quality Over Quantity

Especially when you're buying sex toys for someone for the first time, it can be tempting to go overboard and purchase a whole box-full of cheaper sex toys to make sure your recipient can "try them all". Unfortunately, not all sex toys are created equal, and especially at the lowest price points, some of these sex toys might not work well for their intended purpose - or might die on your recipient within a few weeks.

That being said, there is a "tipping point" where you can still get quality sex toys at much-lower prices than their much-more-costly counterparts. How do you know the difference?

For one, shop at a reputable sex toy store instead of big-box retailers. For example, at Sinful Thrills, we ONLY carry toys that are going to do what they claim to do - and we regularly cull out products that receive overwhelmingly negative reviews.

Another way to figure out the "tipping point" is to pay attention to the manufacturer. If you do a web search of the manufacturer, do you find a fully-flushed website about their brand—or just an auction site webpage?

Reputable sex toy brands tend to host their own websites; not only does it inform consumers, but it's how they provide information to retailers who sell their brands as well.

Finally, keep an eye on materials. Non-porous materials, like silicone, glass, wood, ceramic, and stainless steel are really easy to buy. They're all entirely body-safe by the nature of their non-porous designs. If you're picking up a toy of those materials (and silicone is very popular!), you're pretty good to go.

Safety First!

While we're on the topic of materials, let's talk about sex toy safety. The sex toy industry isn't federally regulated. Let me repeat that again: the sex toy industry isn't federally regulated! This essentially means that sex toys - those same toys that your gift-recipient is going to put into their body—is a giant free-for-all that tends to be dictated by what will sell the best and the cheapest way to make that product.

This means that material safety is huge—as-is buying from reputable manufacturers. Otherwise you end up purchasing a toy that's made from a blend of materials—and who even knows what that includes? (We certainly don't!)

Reading some articles about how to buy safe sex toys before you purchase can really help.

If you care about the gift recipient, make sure the toys you purchase aren't going to hurt them. (As a bright side, toys made from high-quality materials also tend to be higher-quality toys, provide pleasure better, and last longer. Win-win!)

Is It Actually For You?

When purchasing sex toys, it can be easy to accidentally purchase something "for them" that's, in reality, something you wanted. Especially as a lot of sex is regarded as a "together" activity, those lines can be pretty blurred. We're sure you've heard about the stereotypical trope of the "gift of lingerie" that a husband gives their wife.

When picking out an item, I've gotten into the habit of checking through a checklist of items before buying it. If you want, you can do the same.

  • Is this something I want to see them use?
  • Would they buy or use this without me?
  • How do I imagine them using it—even without me in the picture?
  • What hints/tips have I gathered that make me think they want this?

When thinking through these questions, if you're noting a whole lot of your preferences - and not so much of theirs—you might want to reconsider the gift.

Don't Forget the Accessories

Finally, we don't want you to forget the accessories. It can be frustrating to receive a gift—only to realize that you need to purchase other things in order to enjoy the gift.

In particular, don't forget about batteries (if the toy needs some) and lube (especially if it's an insertable toy!). Most toys that fall into the "safe materials" we talked about earlier will require water-based lube, so make sure you get the right type, generally, you can't use silicone lube with a silicone toy. In addition, depending on the toy you gift, you might consider gifting other necessary add-ons—like Fleshwash for Fleshlights.

The Fleshlight Pink Lady Stamina Training Unit Value Pack includes the accessories

If you're intimate with the gift-recipient and you're sure they'll like the gift, you might consider opening the box, giving the toy its first clean, and giving it its first full charge. (Be aware: This usually counts as "using" the toy and voids the return policy for most sex toy retailers!)

However, if you're sure your partner will enjoy it, this means that their toy is ready for use as soon as the box is opened—which can be great if you're using the gift-giving as a part of foreplay!

If the toy you're giving is an app-compatible sex toy, you might also consider installing the app on your cell phone in order to easily pair the toy with your phone for demonstration as soon as the recipient opens the gift.

Know the Return Policy

We always recommend checking into the return policy from wherever you're shopping. If it's in-person, you can ask a clerk or check the receipt. If it's online, scroll to the bottom of the website. Most retailers place their return policy there.

(Pro tip: Save the receipt or provide the receipt in a sealed envelope for your sex toy recipient. Almost all high-quality toys have a 1-Year - or more! - manufacturer's warranty in case something goes wrong with their sex toy. The catch? In order to submit for the warranty, they'll need a copy of the receipt.)

Giving the Package

Once you've figured out their needs and purchased the item, it's time to give the gift. Yes! Honestly, you're pretty much in the clear, but in order to make the best impact with the time and money you've spent, you might as well make sure the last hurrah is fantastic as well. Consider some of these tips.

Gift (Location) Responsibly

When you wrap the gift, if it won't be separate from other gifts, make very, very sure you mark it. This is not the type of gift someone wants to open near their family during their birthday party. This is the type of thing that should only be opened in private or with a group of age-appropriate, sex-positive people. Don't mar the amazing gift you're giving by embarrassing them with the reception of it.

On the same line, consider when you're going to give your package to the person - and consider how they'll get it home. If you have a friend over to give the gift, make sure they have an opaque bag with them to take it home - or provide a bag of your own. If you're going to give the gift in a public place (like over your weekly brunch meet-up!), choose to wrap the gift in a gift bag with tissue paper instead of gift wrapping the box. This way the recipient can see (and thank you!) for the gift without ever needing to let anyone else around them know about it.

Provide an Experience

While this is really only applicable if you're intimately involved with someone, "providing an experience" essentially means that you plan a miniature scene alongside the gift. Giving a massage oil set is a fantastic gift, but giving your partner a massage oil set after a long bath and offering a massage alongside it is an experience.

Your experience can be as lavish or as small as you'd like. You can rent a hotel room for the weekend, spend the time pampering them away from the family, and gift the (washed and charged) toy as the final gift for sex that night.

On the other hand, you can leave out a wrapped penis stroker in front of their favourite seat in the house when you know that you and the family will be out for the night—giving them lots of private time.

Both methods are variable in their cost, but both methods still show an intentional gift-giving experience where the toy's use with the recipient is put into the forefront of the experience.

It's easy to accidentally let "providing an experience" fall into doing what you want to do with them once they have the item, so make sure you spend each step of the planning process putting their preferences at the forefront of your mind.

With effort, planning, and luck, your next sex toy gift is going to blow their expectations entirely out of the water. We hope you're ready for all of their appreciation!

Do you need ideas for your next steamy scene? Take our quiz to get a personalized scene built just for you!

If you're just tipping your toe into the world of BDSM, you may be unsure where to even start when it comes to planning out a scene.

We made this quiz to provide you with your next, or first, BDSM scene based on your own tastes and desires!

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