How to have great sex this Christmas

Samantha Rea 6 December 2019

Don't let the busy holiday season stop you from enjoying some festive fun under the sheets...

While mulled wine and mistletoe might put us in the mood for love, Christmas can be the trickiest time for a couple to slip in some intimate time between the sheets. The festive season sees families living on top of each other, with adult children returning to the roost, relatives staying over to sleep off the sherry, and five-hour drives to visit in-laws who’ve seemingly chosen their house based on its bent for getting snowed in.

When you make it out of their ski-slope driveway, you face nights under a Care Bear duvet, in your childhood bedroom that’s separated from your parents’ room by a wall with the sound-proofing qualities of confetti.

The prospect of shagging in earshot of your family is enough to turn you celibate. But we’re adults, possibly married, and in some cases with children of our own (shattering any illusion that the relationship hasn’t been consummated). So why does it seem so taboo?

christmas kiss


“It’s the awkwardness of being with parents, being back in the role of a child, and perhaps in your old room, that doesn’t feel conducive to doing a particularly grown-up and rather private, intimate act,” says psychologist and relationship expert Jo Hemmings.   

But should we abstain? Or should we feel the fear and do the deed anyway? “I think you certainly need to talk about it,” says Jo, who recommends having this conversation before the start of the holidays, so it doesn’t come up on Christmas Day, fuelled by a particularly punchy trifle. 

“Perhaps decide there are certain conditions for sex, like early in the morning or late at night, when most people are asleep. Or you could have sex in the shower, with the noise of the water masking it, or say the two of you are going up for a rest. Agree that if the opportunities arise, you will—and if they don’t, you won’t be able to.” 


For Richard, who’s 71, Christmas is not a time for abstinence in any form. “Life continues as normal!” declares Richard, who’s currently married to his fourth wife, Helen. Having spent Christmasses with parents and in-laws, as well as his 31-year-old daughter who stays in the next bedroom, Richard claims he’s never self-conscious about being overheard.  

“For all I know, everyone else could be doing the same! We all know it’s happening, but no one needs to be an aural party to it. Just be quiet and keep the bedhead off the wall!” recommends Richard, who advocates jamming cushions down the back of the headboard.  

There’s no risk of eggnog unleashing an unruly festive spirit, as Richard favours sex first thing in the morning. “At Christmas, it’s best to do it before you start eating and drinking, because it’s much more comfortable on an empty stomach!” 

old couple


Madelaine, who’s 36, is a veteran of stealthy Christmas sex. Married for 14 years, she seems to be singing from the same Christmas carol sheet as Richard when she says, “I don’t believe in abstention over Christmas. Although, obviously, after Christmas dinner I've usually eaten my libido into submission with roast potatoes!” 

For Madelaine, arriving early is key to ensuring prime privacy. While guests aren’t usually given a say in the sleeping arrangements, Madelaine is unequivocal when she warns: “Resist being given the sofa-bed in the living room—negotiate for an actual bedroom with a door. Get there before the other family, and bring a laptop so you can claim you need somewhere to keep up with work.” 

Of course, the chance of being walked in on in flagrante isn’t limited to the living room. Staying in a strange house, guests can easily forget which room they’re in, or mistake a bedroom door for the bathroom—especially after a few drinks. “Stay under the covers, then if someone walks in, you can untangle yourselves, and they can pretend not to notice,” says Jo Hemmings. 


For Ian, who’s 44, discreet under-the-duvet action wasn’t an option when he was lumbered with a wooden bedframe, handmade by his wife’s father. “The frame whimpered when we moved, so we spent 15 minutes crawling around on the floorboards looking for a spot that didn’t creak,” says Ian. Anxiety about being overheard meant Ian and Gemma usually avoided sex when they stayed with her parents. “But that’s if we were only a staying a night or two. This time we were there for a week, and Gemma had been on the Baileys…” 

Having thrown some pillows down, Ian and Gemma thought they were good to go, but the experience turned out to be more painful than pleasurable. “We started off with me on top, but the wooden floor was hurting my knees and her back, so we switched places for the final instalment. That was a mistake for both of us,” says Ian, “because her knees were ruined—and then we couldn't get up!” 

Looking back, Ian says, “it was more of a giggle than an erotic event, but in a way it brought us closer, and whenever we recalled it, we found ourselves laughing.” This comes as no surprise to Jo Hemmings, who explains, “there’s a bit of naughtiness in sneaking around—and for some people, that’s quite exciting!”  


Even if your bed seems sturdy, Madelaine advises against being lulled into a false sense of security. “Don't trust it. Unfamiliar beds are always tricky, and constant vigilance is essential,” insists Madelaine, who advises against gripping the headboard. Thinking back to her catalogue of spare-bedroom-bangs, she says: “I've never been confronted by anyone about the squeaking, but I've definitely had to stop and regroup when the headboard betrayed me.” 

Of course, when it comes to stealth-sex, the pinnacle of Christmas sleeping arrangements is a bedroom with its own bathroom. Competition is fierce for such a privacy jackpot, but even Madelaine draws the line at claiming to have a dodgy tummy. “I'd find it hard to feel sexy if I was faking diarrhoea—that's a subterfuge too far,” she says wistfully.  


While you might stop short of fabricating medical conditions, or hiding hearing aids in your quest for surreptitious sex, squirreling yourselves away with the Sellotape could be a solution, because who’s going to disturb you if you claim you’re wrapping presents? Conversely, Ian’s green light for love-making is when other family members are doing their wrapping, as he’s noticed: “When people are busy, and trying to be quiet and secretive, they’re not going to bother you!” 

If you are stuck on the sofa, or your bed sounds like an orchestra of dog toys, strategic timing is crucial for squeezing in Christmas sex while maintaining dignity around family members. Make sure you have the house to yourselves by dashing back from the pub to “Skype relatives living abroad” or take a leaf out of Madelaine’s book and volunteer to “do the veg” while everyone’s at church. 

And if we are overheard, is it really that bad? “I trust in good old English reticence,” says Madelaine. “If someone hears something, there's a good chance they'll be more embarrassed than you, so as long as you're not being blatant, you can ride out the odd giveaway squeak.” 

Jo Hemmings agrees. “You may get a few looks, but rise above it. If anyone says, “ooh, we heard you last night,” just say, “oh, did you?”” Jo counsels against hand-wringing and head-hanging. Instead: “Make light of it, own it and move on.” 

No matter who’s sleeping where, Jo Hemmings suggests preparing for the festive season by practising silent sex in the lead-up to it. And the final word on the ultimate Christmas stealth sex? I’ll leave it with Madelaine, who says: “Keep it quick and dirty and NO SCREAMING!” 

Samantha Rea can be found tweeting here.  

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