When I was 7 years old, I had saved up some money, and campaigned my older sister for the rest, so that I could purchase this one wondrous item I had my eye on and that I thought would be the perfect gift for my mother. This gift seemed so appetizing, so state-of-the-art, and unquestionably universal in its appeal, that I wanted to lavish my mom with this awesomeness.
This gift was an ice cream maker.
It was only while I was reminiscing as an adult that I realized the ice cream maker was actually just a gift for me. My sister and I were the only ones who used the machine.
My first piece of advice regarding erotic gift giving is to not be 7-year-old me! There is nothing wrong with enjoying the gifts you give others, but that should only be a bonus. This applies to all gift giving, but sex toys and other erotic gift items may sometimes be loaded with extra presumptions, commentary and hopes. So the first step to staying clear of this, is making sure you got the right motives. Is this something they may want or is this something you wish they want or actually just want for yourself.
Step two is being okay with the possibility that they may not end up liking it. Gifting anyone anything is like going out on a little limb—especially if you've put a lot of heart into it—but sometimes they may just not like that particular cut of sweatshirt or even if they do, they may not like how it feels on them. And it's okay. If you feel like you may not be able to handle that kind of rejection, but still want to put some spice into your gift giving, gift certificates to adult boutiques (ahem) are an excellent way of putting in a personal romantic/frisky touch while leaving the actual item choice up to the giftee.
Another fun approach is to come into the shop together and have them pick out anything they want like a kid in a candy store. This experience itself can be fun and titillating while also being a wonderful opportunity to see what kinds of things your partner is actually into. Even if you think you know them well, there is always more to learn!
Of course, you can always just ask them what they want, too.
That all said, erotic gift giving is not actually a rocket science (although some of the newer sex toys have some pretty high-tech factors!). There is an art to it, however. I've boiled it down to five elements—presentation, uniqueness, indulgence, quality, and attentiveness—and the last element, attentiveness, supersedes all the previous ones.
Presentation: Does the item come an elegant packaging or a cute bundle? A plastic bottle of lube has a different energy about it than a ceramic massage candle. A dildo in clamshell packaging has a different vibe than a polished stainless steel G-spotter (Njoy Pure Wand) that comes in a nice black box but would look equally nice on the bedside table.
Uniqueness: So they already have a vibrator. But do they also have one that doubles as a discrete stainless steel necklace pendant (Vesper by Crave)? Or one that can be operated with an app from anywhere in the world (We-Vibe 4 Plus)? Uniqueness can also be thought of as luxury vs. utility. It's an item we may not feel justified purchasing for ourselves but are delighted to receive as a gift.
Indulgence: We're staying with our luxury vs. utility theme here, as well. Massage oils, ticklers, and edible body toppings all come with the idea that they will be lavished with pleasure! An example of what may not necessarily be considered a gift of indulgence? Socks. (Except for me, who really likes some cute socks).
Quality: Look to see what your lover/BFF already owns and loves and get them an upgraded version. Are they smitten with their Original Hitachi Magic Wand? How about getting them the new rechargeable version with more settings? Are they using a rubber band as a cock ring (please don't do that!)? Get them a soft (and safer) silicone c-ring instead! A heavier flogger. A more durable stroker.
Attentiveness: None of the other elements mean anything without this one. If what they want is a book, than get them a book!
Stop by the shop for some more ideas!
Ally Booker is a pleasure activist passionate about educating herself and others on cool sexuality related things like communication skills, creating and respecting boundaries, sexual self-determination, destigmatization, gender and sexual expressions, sex toy use and safety, and all the other mechanics of pleasure. You can often find her at her Tucson shop, Jellywink Boutique, 418 E. 7th St.. You can reach her at 777-9434 or AllyBooker@Jellywink.com.