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Roundtable: Is There Anything Hot About the Holidays?

The winter holiday season can be rough, especially for LGBTQ+ folks. Many of us associate the holiday season with visiting homophobic relatives, draining our bank accounts, loneliness, delayed flights, being away from partners, being away from family members who don’t want to see us and other Very Unsexy Things. So I’ve been wondering: is there anything hot about the holidays? And if not, is there anything we can or should do to make the holidays feel a little…sexier? Here’s what some Autostraddle writers and editors have to say:

Vanessa Friedman, Community Editor

The hot things about the holidays are, of course: sexy outfits, my birthday and FRIENDSHIP. You didn’t think I could possibly say anything else, did you? This year is actually going to suck for me because the Jewish one year anniversary of my dad’s death falls ON my birthday and the secular one year anniversary of my dad’s death falls on New Year’s Eve, so not to be depressing in a sexy round up, but, uh, I imagine the end of the year is going to be rough… but all the more reason to lean into the shit that makes me feel good and hot and alive in my body!

If you’re someone who has always hated the holiday season (I was not, until my dad died) here are my three HOT TIPS (see what I did there?):

  1. Find a really really sexy outfit that makes you feel amazing and is kind of lightly holiday-themed (or intensely holiday-themed, if that’s your jam) and find a time to wear it and take incredible selfies either for yourself or for some babes in your life.
  2. Celebrate my birthday! I’m kidding, kind of, except I’m not because my birthday falls on the winter solstice! No matter what holiday(s) you grew up celebrating, I find it incredibly grounding and dare I say it — HOT — to acknowledge the seasons shifting and the earth turning and the world being enveloped in the darkness of night on the shortest day of the year. Make a solstice fire, light some candles, do a tarot spread, just close your eyes and breath.
  3. LEAN INTO YOUR FRIENDS. This is truly the sexiest move of all time 365 days a year, but it can be especially magical and meaningful around the holidays. Even if you have to be with your family, schedule a little FaceTime call with your bestie. If you’re able to, celebrate the whole dang holiday with your pals. Make these plans in advance so if things start to feel bleak closer to the actual holidays, you already have your happy place locked in. Friendship is really really hot and I invite you to embrace that this holiday season.

Stef Schwartz, Vapid Fluff Editor

I’m Jewish and don’t celebrate Christmas, but a few years ago, my friends and I started a tradition of going to the hipster strip club in Brooklyn on Christmas Eve and it’s THE BEST. There’s a really cool vibe in there on Christmas, and it’s a great time to overpay for shitty alcohol and give a bunch of hot girls all of your money.

Also, I’ve been working fairly constantly since coming back to my job over the summer (which I am grateful for!). The holidays are the only guaranteed downtime I really get all year. I’ve been seeing someone for a while but haven’t really had time available for the level of boning I feel we should be doing. She’s been so patient! I intend to fix this while I have many days off in a row. So those are my holiday plans, which seem pretty hot to me.

Casey , Contributor

Of course as the resident lesbrarian, my take on this question is make the holigays hot with steamy queer holiday books! Some suggestions:

  1. Eight Kinky Nights by Xan West, a queer, kinky, butch-femme Hanukkah romance featuring older characters who are falling in love and figuring their shit out
  2. Party Favors by Erin McLellan, about two online BFFs who finally meet in person for an NYC New Year’s Eve and discover their searing chemistry (also, sex toys!)
  3. Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur, a romance between a messy, bi, boxed-wine-drinking social media astrologer and an uptight, $56-a-glass-chardonnay-drinking lesbian actuary with trust issues. Set between American Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, but not too holiday focused!
  4. Christmas Inn Maine by Chelsea M. Cameron, about Colden, a nonbinary demigirl, who ends up stranded at an inn in Maine over Christmas, and the inn’s owners are the parents of her work nemesis, who they might just have a crush on.
  5. Mangos and Mistletoe by Adriana Herrera, a romance set in wintery Scotland amidst a baking competition. Two Dominican women are paired together to compete. At first they don’t like each other, but then they are forced to share a bed…and you know where that leads!

Over the last few years I’ve shifted away from Christmas (which feels inherently tied to my evangelical family and Jesus-centered traditions) and into honoring Yule, a winter solstice celebration that in no way reminds me of my blood relatives and leaves plenty of room for spells, magic and chosen family (and like Vanessa, my girlfriend’s birthday is on the winter solstice, which makes this time of year feel even more special). This year my girlfriend and I are going to travel to a warm and lovely place for the holidays, and I can’t wait to drink cocktails on a beach and fuck in a swanky room and wear a suit for dinner at the fanciest resort restaurant. But even without finally getting on a plane for the first time in over two years, I absolutely think that the holidays can be hot: snuggling under blankets talking or watching a favorite movie, walking through the city and looking at lights and shop windows, buying each other new sex toys or lingerie and spending the rest of the day in bed. I believe so firmly in the potential sexiness of the holidays that I even wrote a whole damn gift guide about it. Winter can be hot!

Riese , Editorial & Strategy

Honestly, Christmas lights? Are sexy and perfect lighting? I mean, I still buy strings of fairy lights from Urban Outfitters like it’s 1997 and they are up year round, but the Christmas palette just amps up the ambiance. Add some candles to that room and w o w everybody looks hot and smells great. Giving gifts to people you love? Very hot. You can’t really curl up in bed all day on the fourth of July you know? But on Christmas, yes, everybody stays inside and close.

Drew Burnett Gregory, Senior Editor

My birthday is on Christmas Eve, and on my 21st birthday, I hooked up with someone and it was one of the hottest, sweetest nights of my life. I promised the person I wouldn’t talk about it — this was pre-transition, so the reasons are wholesome — but let your imaginations run wild because it was such a nice night. Before transitioning, my relationship to sex was really off, and I think it’s because this person and I didn’t have sex that allowed it to be so sexy?? It was really the first time I realized that sensuality and intimacy could be more than the cisheteronormative ideas of sex that had been instilled in me. Okay and also last year I had a threesome that started on my birthday and ended on Christmas and then I fell asleep watching Carol (my yearly tradition), so I guess that qualifies, too.

Ro White, Sex & Dating Editor

I worked at a sex toy store for several years. Every December, I got to teach holiday-themed sex ed workshops and help shoppers find the perfect toys, lube, massage oil and Santa-themed lingerie (yep, that’s a thing!) for their partners. Now I have a permanent association between the holiday season and the hustle and bustle of a sex shop, and I love that for me.

Here are my top tips for getting into the sexy holiday spirit:

  1. Get a sexy gift for your partner, your crush or yourself. And a “sexy” gift doesn’t have to be a sex toy! It can be comfy pajamas or a scented candle or an elaborate meal — anything that will help the recipient awaken their senses and feel present in their body.
  2. If you’re an A+ member, enjoy some very hot holiday-themed erotica (and if you’re not already a member for as little as $4/month, give yourself the gift of a membership).
  3. Send nudes to your partner or crush to boost morale.

Heather Hogan, Senior Writer + Editor

The holidays are hot because it’s the time of year when all the best fan fic tropes are available to everyone! Body heat to stay alive? Check. Only one bed (cause you’re home for the holidays with your FAKE GIRLFRIEND)? Check. Enemies to lovers with your high school sweetheart? That’s like half of all Hallmark Christmas movies! Mutual unrequited pining? Only ten thousand times better this year with the release of Red (Taylor’s Version)! On top of that, it’s super hot to make out in secret in your teenage bedroom with your now wife. Also: Candles, which are everywhere during the holiday season. And then there was that one Christmas where Jen Richards dressed up like Miss Claus, and I have still not recovered from that. So yeah, the holidays are hot.

Carmen Phillips, Editor-in-Chief

Honestly, I’ve never found the holidays hot? Though I’ve read enough hot holiday-themed fanfiction in my life (what up nerds) to know that someone out there is finding December sexy, even if not. Oh geez, I’m rambling. I definitely should have gone with Riese’s answer of Christmas lights? That’s always a classic.

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, Managing Editor

Things that are hot about the holidays: frosting, Star Bright (the 1996 Vanessa Williams Christmas album), the color red, candles, having quiet sex in someone’s parents’ house (sorry!), molasses cookies, cinnamon smells, balsam smells, shiny things. But above all else, the hottest holiday gift of all is Christina Baranski as Martha May Whovier in the cinematic classic, 2000’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Christine Baranski and Martha May Whovier in How The Grinch Stole Christmas

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  1. Celebrating a queer Jew’s birthday sounds like a great idea, now to find a local queer Jew whose birthday is this time of year. I will say absinthe is a sexy holiday drink. It’s green(usually), strong, sexy with hints of mystery to it, & best of all it’s the upper of alcohols in my experience. Pairs well with friends.

  2. I love the range here. I’m not sure I think of the holidays as sexy but I do think of them as sensual and loving, which can be sexy. Baking cookies, drinking hot cider, making cards, looking at the lights.

    There’s something really beautiful to me about welcoming light into the darkness and sharing it with your community. I love rituals. As a spiritual but not very religious Christian, my favorite part of the Christmas Eve service at my church pre-Covid (besides the enthusiastic hugging during the Passing of the Peace and the cookies after the service) is the communal lighting of the candles in the dark – everyone has a candle and lights theirs from their neighbor’s.

    My other ritual that maybe is sexy and is definitely sensual is attending an annual pre-dawn solstice drum concert. Every year I go, I feel so moved by the energy and power of the music and the all of us sitting together, watching the room get lighter and feeling the rhythm move through us.

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