Listen. There’s nothing wrong with impromptu morning sex, a middle-of-the-day quickie, or an athletic sex session that incorporates a grab bag of positions. But these days (by which I mean the vast expanse of winter), if you’re going to compete with my collection of various weighted blankets and the pile of books on my nightstand, you really need to bring it.

By “bring it,” I mean apply lotion to that part of my back I can’t reach, do something about the fact that every time I move, it sounds like I’ve poured milk into a bowl of Rice Krispies, and make me feel cozy.

Sure, every season is a good season for a sensual massage.

But I think winter might be the best time.

So how can you treat your partner to a massage that rivals the one they get at their local masseuse and that will maybe also lead to sexy times?

Set the scene.

Let’s start with the prep work. Your bedroom is probably the best location for a sensual massage. Make sure your bed is freshly made with clean sheets that feel good against the skin. Gather a collection of pillows that will make your partner feel comfy and supported. Adjust the thermostat to ensure the temperature is warm enough. Dim the lights and maybe even light some candles. Something like our Burning Desire massage candle—which adds to the ambiance with its soft lighting and subtle scent, and also provides warm massage oil when lit—can do double duty. You might even want to play some music. Oh, and if you have kids, lock the door. It’s impossible to fully relax if you know your little ones could barge in at any moment.

Check in about boundaries.

Check in with your partner about which areas of the body they’d rather you avoid, and which body parts require extra attention. Also, ask what level of pressure they’d prefer. My spouse loves deep tissue massages. I, meanwhile, wanted to slap the last masseuse who tried to work out a knot in my shoulder. It can be normal to feel some soreness after a good massage, but one should also feel a sense of relaxation… not lingering pain.

Try some sensation play.

Before starting in on the massage itself, experiment with different types of sensory stimulation along the length of their body. You can run furry pillows or silk scarves along their skin. Run your nails down their back or run an ice cube along the base of their neck. Our In Good Hands massage gloves boast a variety of silicone nubs and textured patterns along their surface. Oil them up and slide them over your partner’s body. Or try our Tickle & Whip, which has soft feathers on one end and rubber tassels on the other. Which sensations will make your partner shiver?

Pick your poison.

Once your partner’s skin is awake and tingling, choose a massage oil. As mentioned before, our massage candle melts into a warm oil you can pour directly onto the skin. Coconut oils also work well for full-body massages, which makes our HēLi Massage Oil a good choice.

Just be sure to switch to a personal lubricant once you shift to your partner’s more sensitive bits. A massage oil like this is best for external use.

And please, warm the oil in your hands (and also warm your darn hands) before touching bare skin.

Provide a head-to-toe massage.

But hold off on the most sensitive bits. Make sure everything else feels amazing first. Use the pads of your thumbs to make gentle circles at the temples, along the hairline, and down the inner cheeks. Gently massage and tug on their earlobes. For greater surface areas, like the back shoulder blades, the lower back and the side body, use the heel of your hand to make long movements that work the entire length of the muscle. Spend a little time with each muscle before moving to the next one.

Tease your partner.

By this point, your partner’s body should be like a limp rag. Like, in a good way. This is the point where you want to turn up the heat. As you stroke and caress their body, get close to touching their most sensitive bits… but then veer away. Massage around their breasts. Run your hands up their thighs. Stroke their pelvic area. Build their arousal slowly so that, by the time you place a finger on their erogenous zones, they’re ready to explode.

Go all in.

The great thing about a sensual massage like this one is that, as you explore their body, you learn more about the spots, and the types of touch and sensation, that bring them the most pleasure. Hopefully, you were paying attention to their sighs, their moans, and the way their skin leapt beneath your touch. Because this is where you put all that newfound knowledge to good use.

Hone in on their favorite hot spots, whether that means nipple play, ear nibbling, or getting more hands-on with another body part. If you have the green light (and this should be something you talked about at the very beginning, when you were establishing boundaries), try a slow, sensual hand job, use your fingers to stimulate the area around their clitoris, or even move onto an oral favor.

Who knows where things will go from there?

Stephanie Auteri

Stephanie Auteri

Journalist, author, & sex educator
Steph Auteri has written about sexuality for the Atlantic, the Washington Post, Pacific Standard, VICE, and other publications, and has collaborated with folks at the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT), the Center for Sex Education, and Good in Bed. She is the author of A Dirty Word, a reported memoir about how female sexuality is so often treated like a dirty word.