Monday, December 9, 2013

SHOULD A GUEST REMOVE THEIR SHOES? :: Mrs. Lemontree's Guide on How to Behave Here, There and Everywhere


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.




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15 comments:

Marie (Mrs. Dalrymple) said...

Hi,
This is a real pet peeve of mine. Being expected to take my shoes off at a social function really bugs me. My shoes are always part of my outfit and removing them ruins the look. My feet are also always cold so having no shoes on is no fun. Also, for those whose feet smell (not mine, I swear), this can prove very embarrassing. We never ever make people take off their shoes at social gatherings at our house. If you expect to keep a perfectly clean house at all times, don't invite people over.
P.S. Thanks for letting me vent.

M.A. said...

Ugh, I hate having to take off my shoes at a social function, just so crass to me. When I invite people over I never ask them to. I do have to say that I had a friend who asked people to take off their shoes when in her house but she provided everyone with the most beautiful Japanese silk embroidered slippers to wear while there, which took away a little from the awkwardness.

Marie Angelique

Cornelia said...

Never ever have I asked anyone other than my own children when they were young to take off their shoes. I find this extremely rude, and would never return to that house again. Hosting a party is about making your guest feel welcome. If one cannot even allow a guest to keep on the clothes they chose to wear, maybe I should host in a public space.

Lily Lemontree said...

Marie,
Vent away my dear!
I am a member of the 'cold feet' squad too so I can appreciate wanting to keep my shoes on!

Lily Lemontree said...

M.A.
Those Japanese slippers sound divine, I would gladly slip off my shoes for a pair of lovelies! How thoughtful of your host!

Lily Lemontree said...

Cornelia,
"Hosting a party is about making your guest feel welcome" - couldn't have said it better myself!

Casey said...

Asking a guest in your home to remove their shoes is the height of rudeness in my opinion. I would never ask anybody to do so, and when friends stop over and go to take their shoes off, I tell them they don't need to do that. Now, if my shoes were snowy or muddy or wet, I'll gladly take them off, but I'd prefer to wipe them on the rug provided until they aren't offensive first.

Victoria @ Hibiscus Bloem said...

Just this weekend we hosted a party for 20 adults and 18 kids at our house. All the kids kindly removed their shoes and headed off to the play. But I immediately told the adults that they should not remove their shoes. Going out for the evening, getting a little dressy and then being asked to remove a gorgoeus pair of heels - no way!

Celia M. High Heeled Life said...

Great post my friend. This is a loaded topic, especially when wet snow, slush, salt are abound. Not to mention all the dirt, and germs that could be tracked through ones home on the bottom of shoes.
Like you I keep a pair of ballet flats that I can easily slip on - or I have wore one pair of shoes and brought a clean soled shoe to slip on once I've arrived and am inside the hosting home. In both cases I have a shoe bag for the removed shoes that can easily be hung on a hanger with my coat, thus avoiding the "shoe pile". Most of my friends do the same. Wishing you a great week my friend. Hugs, C. (HHL)

Jessica Gordon Ryan said...

I try to survey the scene... if people have their shoes off then I have no problem doing so either. (I must remember to have pretty painted toes tho!)

For casual- day to day - I prefer to have no shoes in my own house. It's small and the dirt carries everywhere and with kids always running in and out it's easier this way.

For large gatherings - both formal and informal - shoes remain on.

Vannessa@Luxuria said...

When I am visiting someone's home for the first time and especially if it's raining or snowy outside I always ask the host can I take off my shoes. I have very light colored carpets in my home in the UK and it used to bug me the number of people that would happily "schlepp" in without even wiping their feet on the mat at the door. In the end I thought, if they are not embarrassed about doing that, I shouldn't be embarrassed about making them aware of wiping their feet or removing their shoes.I also think it's more hygienic when you have carpets to ask people to remove their outdoor shoes. In my home in Spain where all floors are marble, I never bother. But where there is carpet I do get a little twitchy ;-) It's similar to asking whether you can smoke in someone's house or not I think'???

Jennifer Connolly said...

A wonderful and timely post. I hate to remove my shoes in others home but if I think I'll need to, I carry little slippers as well. I never, ever request people to remove their shoes in my home. In fact, I encourage them to they leave them on. Of course it doesn't snow where I live. I do have a good mat for guests to wipe their shoes on. I have read that the perspiration on ones socks and feet is harder on carpets that plan old dirt. Nastier too! There are cultures where it is impolite to leave your shoes on in the house, and I respect their wishes.

Madame Là-bas said...

I really like the slippers idea although I would prefer to carry my own. I was once asked to remove my shoes because they might mark the floors. I felt very awkward about being singled out.

Unknown said...

I've found plain or colorful shopping bags (simple, thin, nylon ones) to be very amusing when put over shoes and wrapped around ankles, especially for kids. If you can get hold of surgical shoe protectors, that would be even better. Or shower ones. :P Those are funny ways to be kind towards your guests during informal visits, without making them feel uneasy, as well as simple way to show understanding for your hosts who might have various reasons for not wanting you to walk around their home in your shoes (health issues, small kids, pets, sensitive carpeting, etc.). Nobody has to take them off, no fuss, just plain fun and everyone's happy, IMO. Of course, formal events should not be organized in home if your guests are not able to keep their formal outfits on, including the shoes. ;)

Unknown said...

I've found plain or colorful shopping bags (simple, thin, nylon ones) to be very amusing when put over shoes and wrapped around ankles, especially for kids. If you can get hold of surgical shoe protectors, that would be even better. Or shower ones. :P Those are funny ways to be kind towards your guests during informal visits, without making them feel uneasy, as well as simple way to show understanding for your hosts who might have various reasons for not wanting you to walk around their home in your shoes (health issues, small kids, pets, sensitive carpeting, etc.). Nobody has to take them off, no fuss, just plain fun and everyone's happy, IMO. Of course, formal events should not be organized in home if your guests are not able to keep their formal outfits on, including the shoes. ;)

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