Is it rude to ask guests to take their shoes off?
NEW YORK — In Michigan, you’re expected to leave snowy boots in the mudroom before going inside. In Alaska, boots are taken off in “Arctic entries.” In Japan, Thailand and many other countries, you wouldn’t dream of entering a home with your shoes on, regardless of the season.
But removing shoes before coming inside has not been the norm in much of the U.S.
These days, however, city dwellers and suburbanites from New York to Los Angeles often find that hosts expect footwear to be left at the door. Sometimes it’s because of weather; other times, homeowners want to protect light-colored rugs and high-gloss wood floors from dirt and dings, or parents don’t want street germs on floors where kids play.
Some guests find the request irksome – especially at holiday parties when they’re dressed up. “But this is an outfit!” squeals Carrie Bradshaw in a “Sex and the City” episode when asked to take her shoes off at a baby shower. (Insult to injury: Her high-heeled Manolos are stolen during the party.)
Shalena Broaster of Philadelphia – whose friends call her “the diva” – said her first thought when asked to remove shoes is: “I just pray I have a fresh pedicure!” Since she’s only 5 feet tall, she also misses the height her stilettos provide.
Classy hosts with a no-shoes rule handout “guest socks” or inexpensive slippers that folks can take home. But please don’t offer Broaster your old tube socks. “Nasty!” she said.
Rachel Kerstetter of Cleveland wrote on her blog, http://www.ProbablyRachel.com, that guests sometimes make her feel “like a criminal” for asking them to remove shoes. She offered 10 reasons why her household is “shoes-free,” including preserving the carpet, allowing guests to relax and put their feet up, and keeping allergens out of the house along with “grass, leaves, mud, dirt, bugs, gum, oil, tar and yes, even animal poo.”
For everyday comings and goings, Kerstetter and her husband use a mudroom by the back door. For company, they put a shoe rack in a small foyer near the front door.
“We like to walk around barefoot and we want to have our home clean,” Kerstetter said. She “didn’t grow up in a no-shoes household, but my parents taught me to ask” the host’s preference before entering.
Another must for shoes-off parties: Put a chair by the door. Don’t make guests hop unbalanced on one shoe while taking off the other. And put out a shoe rack so footwear doesn’t end up in a pile.