Today’s Waffle: Mandatory Shoes off at a Dinner Party?

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A friend approached me the other day. “I’ve got a shoe waffle for you!” she enthused.

“Spring sandals?” I guessed. Nope. “Winter boots on clearance?” Wrong again.

Turns out she was throwing a dinner party that night and was waffling about whether to ask guests to take off their shoes. My friend and her family recently moved into a brand spanking new house — with wall-to-wall carpet upstairs — and she knew some guests would want the tour.

“Do you think people would mind if I asked them to take off their shoes before going upstairs? Should I put a sign up near the front door so everyone just takes them off when they arrive? Or should I just forget about it and deal?”

So Waffler readers, do you have a shoes off policy at your house? Do you mind taking your shoes off at other people’s houses? And does it make a difference to you if it’s for a fancier, evening event?

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8 responses

  1. I agree with Jessie. Give people the benefit of the doubt that they will wipe their feet. I think being a good host is dealing with any consequences to entertaining.

  2. I agree with Jessie. Life happens, and carpets and floors need cleaning. My husband and I made a commitment when we were married that we didn’t want to live in a museum. We want to live in a home where everyone feels welcome, warm, and comfortable. We don’t have any precious heirlooms about that will create tragedy if they are destroyed. If something is broken or stained beyond redemption, we simply replace it with something not too expensive and totally replaceable.

    There are homes where it is culturally important to take of shoes, and for those families I happily shed my shoes. If you are having a fancy dinner party, and you are not culturally bound by shoe removal, I think it is a bit odd to ask ladies to remove their heels and gents to remove their polished shoes. Suddenly everyone is dressed up, but wandering around in their socks–it’s a bit silly.

  3. I grew up in a house, where we didn’t wear shoes in the house, so I take my shoes off naturally. If there’s a pile of shoes by the door, most people will get the message. A bench or something to sit on nearby helps. I see it all the time.

    In my own house, I hated being a Nazi about it, so if a visitor asks, I just tell them they’re fine with their shoes on (but, then again, I own a carpet cleaner :).

  4. I voted that I think it’s a reasonable request, because lots of people I know do ask for shoes to be off when in their homes–often for cultural reasons, but I have to admit I also find it annoying.

  5. I agree with Jesse, if it’s a horrid day you put out a shaggy doormat and casually ask folks to wipe their feet because “gosh, it’s just so messy out!”. Do not put up a sign. If you are super worried, don’t offer tours until you are sure their shoes have dried off.
    If your guests need to be told to not track mud into your house, then you have an entirely different problem.

  6. I’ve never been asked, but I always remove my shoes indoors. Why drag shoes that have been outside across your carpets? I really appreciate it when others automatically take theirs off when they come into my home, but I don’t ask.

  7. Presumably, adults coming to a dinner party have not been romping in the mud immediately before coming to a dinner party. If it is wet and rainy, go for it (with that as an explanation) otherwise allow adults to remain fully clothed. Life happens, and carpets eventually need cleaning.

    • I think it depends on the type of dinner party that’s being held. If its an informal gathering then it’s fine to ask everyone to take off their shoes. We are. A shoes off and slippers on family. Close friends and family bring slippers with then when visiting and we return the compliment when visiting them. Our dinner parties are informal so it’s shoes off.