Is It Rude to Ask Guests to Remove Their Shoes?

Staff Writer
Don’t let wet or muddy snow boots ruin your dinner party
Is It Rude to Ask Guests to Remove Their Shoes?
istock/chrissadowski

Every week, our resident experts Mindy Lockard and Coryanne Ettiene answer etiquette questions from modern day hosts, offering advice from both traditional and contemporary perspectives.

Have a question you want answered? Send us an email with your dilemma, and then check back every week for new tips and advice.

This week’s question: 

When I’m hosting friends for a party in my home during the winter months, is it tacky or rude to ask guests to remove their snow or rain boots as soon as they arrive?

Mindy: It's not tacky or rude to ask guests to take off their shoes, but verbalizing it can feel awkward. If you arrive at the door with your shoes off and have a basket there for your guests, it will communicate nonverbally that you'd like them to do so. It's always a nice gesture for a host or hostess to provide slippers or clean socks so that a guest who arrived sock free isn't uncomfortable with their unkempt feet on display. If a guest is uncomfortable, or ignores all of the signs, sometimes we have to let it go and have an arsenal of cleaning supplies on hand for when they leave.

Coryanne: Asking someone to take their shoes off before coming into your home is a highly reasonable request. After all, imagine the embarrassment if they leave dirt on your newly cleaned cream carpet, or scrape your hardwood floors with their heels (then again, they might not even realize the path of destruction they leave in their wake)? So guests know what to do, keep a shoe rack or bench in your foyer, and make room for your guests’ shoes for the evening (you can even stick a couple of pairs in their path, so they get the idea). You never know, some people might come prepared. If I know I am wearing snow boots to someone’s house, I generally pack a pair of flip-flops or slippers to change into, just for the occasion.  

About Our Experts: Mindy Lockard is The Gracious Girl and offers traditional etiquette advice with a modern, gracious twist. Coryanne Ettiene believes entertaining at home should be an everyday affair; she shares contemporary advice for modern living at Housewife Bliss.

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