To de-shoe or not to de-shoe, that seems to be the question of the hour, or at least the question on everyone's mind during the holiday season, when countless get-togethers and open houses leave you wondering what to do when you run into that dreaded pile of shoes at the front door. A question that seems to plague the host of the party just as much as it does the guest arriving at the door, should guests remove their shoes? So much easier to figure out what one is supposed to do when there is a concrete rule on the matter but in these instances where there isn't, the importance of everyday good manners and social graces could never be more essential.
But what to do, dear friends, let's read on!
For the host: Accommodation is one of the most important priorities for the host. Always keep in mind the comfort of your guests and what type of party your hosting.
If you are hosting an informal event and are having guests over that have never been to your home, don't depend on your guest picking up any social cues for them to remove their shoes (like the aforementioned shoe mountain). Some people feel so uncomfortable removing their shoes in public that they will ignore (or pretend to ignore) their immediate environment. If you want to try your hand at standing firm on your 'no shoe' policy, politely suggest where they can leave their shoes when they enter but leave it at that. Insisting on your guest removing their shoes after they have chosen to disregard what everyone else has done is just not nice and a very poor way to welcome someone into your home.
If you are setting a formal environment and are requesting that your guests dress to the nines, it's in bad taste to stand guard at the door and ask them to remove their shoes, regardless of the usual rules that you have for your home. Some of us build an entire outfit around a pair of shoes and funny as it sounds, will get very sour very quickly when a link is knocked out of that stylish chain so loosen up a little on the house policy and you will soon find yourself on the 'best host' list in no time. The host's most important priority is to maintain a welcoming atmosphere for all their guests and that includes someone who might be tracking a pebble or two into your home!
For the guest: Lucky you! You have been invited to have some fun so even if you really don't want to remove your shoes, remember why you are there (to have a good time!) and leave the sour face at home. Take a deep breath, kick your shoes off and get over it!
Prepare yourself for the inevitable by choosing a good pair of socks or nylons and if necessary, a quick pedicure before the function will have you in top form. (I always tuck a pair of foldaway ballet slippers into my purse when I know there is a potential for losing the shoes at a party, the mini portable kind that you can pick up anywhere but I happen to love these ones) Any worries about damaging your new glass slippers in a mountain of shoes is easily remedied by asking your host if there is anywhere else a little less traffic-y where you could leave your shoes.
People can get a little funny about tracking dirt into their homes especially at this time of the year where snow, salt and slush add to the potential mess but this is neither the time nor the place for your opinion on the matter.