Do You Need Shoes to Party Hardy?


Shoes! (Photo credit: Cynewulf)

“Abandon shoes, all ye who enter here.”  – National Post

Sometimes you can’t make this stuff up.  The subject of “peace on earth, good will to (wo)mankind” seems to no longer be a hot topic for this time of year. The new hot topic? Whether you should leave your shoes on or take them off when you enter a private home for holiday parties. The topic is so hot that the Canadian newspaper, the National Post devoted the front page to the subject.

It seems people have very strong opinions about the topic.  One of the “experts” quoted in the article said she did not mind if people left their shoes on, but noted quite pointedly that she did not have white carpeting. (So, I am thinking that if she did have white carpets she might not be so open-minded). Another woman  put the responsibility squarely on her visitor’s shoulders. She said quite adamantly that they should come prepared to leave wet footwear at the door, and bring a pair of shoes to wear inside. (I am thinking she is not a “party hardy” kind of gal.)

Another responder to the question of “shoes on or shoes off” said that “guests should leave their shoes on. Any decent party will involve a lot of spilled drinks, passed out people, and possibly, a flood. If you’re worried about a bit of slush on the carpet, you’re probably going to react badly when your brother-in-law falls through the coffee table”. He has a point. One might wonder about the type of parties he goes to. (I have not been to one of those in years–I sort of miss them.)

A highly fashion conscious woman sniffed at the question and said that shoes must stay on as they “are the most important part of an outfit.”  She stated: “May as well wear my pyjamas if I have to take my shoes off.”

My opinion, shaded on the side of “make your guests comfortable” is to not ask people to shed their shoes at the door, and let them make up their own mind. In fact, most of the time I encourage people to wear their shoes in my house especially if they are unexpected so that their socks do not gather up the dust tumbleweeds that tend to float willy nilly around my house. (If I am expecting guests though, I tame the tumbleweeds beforehand, spray furniture polish in the air, and use candlelight, not so much for the ambience but to hide my lack of housekeeping skills.)

The easy solution—in Canada in the wintertime?

Fancy Yelp KC Party 146

Party! Party! Can’t tell if they have their shoes on. (Photo credit:

Wear your boots to the door and put your shoes on after you have discarded your outerwear. Easy peasy. Or wear cute socks. The ones with the reindeer are especially nice.

Where do you stand on the shoes on, shoes off controversy this holiday season?

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87 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Wow. People should definitely wear shoes in my house. I have tile floors and they get slippery if at all wet. Plus, dust bunnies. Yikes.

    Plus, I hate having to take my shoes off when I go to someone else’s house. I immediately wonder if my feet smell, or if I have holes in my socks. Or maybe now I’m barefoot and feel weird.

    I say – shoes. Unless they’re covered in mud or are soaked. Definitely shoes.

    • me too – unless I have cute socks to show off–did not think of the smelly feet thing – that is something to consider!

  2. I run into this all the time and I hate going places where I must take my shoes off. I wear orthodics and walking around without them is painful and unhealthy. Damn people who have white carpets. I say hang the carpets on the wall and put something on the floor that can be walked on.

  3. Some people have a house where outdoor shoes are never allowed, and if that’s the case then I tend to think visitors should respect that, whether it’s a party or not. I should add that my house is not one of those shoe-free houses, so if you come to mine feel free to stomp mud all through, like my kids do! The thing that bothers me when I’m going to someone’s house is if I don’t know beforehand that it’s a shoe-free zone; if i do know, then I can come prepared with a little pair of fluffy socks or something to slip on!

    • they should have signs or include it on their invitations or something so we can be forewarned

      • If it was included on the invitations then it could be turned into a fun thing, like offer a prize for the most outrageous socks or something!

      • now you’re talking!

  4. I think that growing up in the South where I went barefoot except for school and church for at least 6 months out of the year, I still prefer either barefoot or sock feet. I don’t usually wear shoes in the house (partly because if I do happen to step on a cat, it doesn’t hurt them and they don’t scream) and I don’t wear shoes at work either (private practice in bodywork – shoeless feels more grounded to me). But I don’t require my guests to take off their shoes in my home or when they walk into my office. I don’t judge them if they don”t either. I do make them take off their shoes when they’re lying on my treatment table because that would just be wierd…And having said all of this, I LOVE shoes! I’m a VIP member at Zappos. 🙂

    Great post, LouAnn. Are you in Canada? If you’re in the U.S., Happy Thanksgiving! If you’re not, Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

    • I like to go shoeless too and I also love shoes, so I am a lot like you–I enjoyed my Thanksgiving in October but hope you have a great one

  5. This topic is beyond my understanding…. I live on a farm. I have no socks that match. Wear the damn shoes! It reminds me of the controversy of how to hang the toilet paper roll… so that the paper rolls over the top or hangs from underneatht?
    Thanks for sharing though. It’s funny what people worry about.

  6. I’m not a fan of the staunch shoes off rule because, even in winter, I rarely wear socks. I have shoes/boots with warm fuzzy insides. Also, I’m often wearing tights (instead of socks) because of the extra warmth and also because I really like skirts and tall boots. Tights wear out quickly if you walk around in them with no shoes and boots can be difficult to get on and off, especially if there is no chair by the door (which almost nobody has anymore but still expects you to take your shoes on and off!). If it’s easy(you’ve given me a chair or I’m not wearing tall boots), my feet don’t stink, and I have socks on, or I’ll be staying for more than a brief visit, I have no problem taking my shoes off. I just think you have to consider your guest, or not have them.

    • I agree that you should take care of your guests and make them comfortable–who wants to tip toe around?

  7. I live in a keep the shoes on place unless the hostess has new flooring in which case she becomes like a cranky new mom for a year or so. I’ll respect any request but like notice so I can bring warm socks. Yes, I sorta, kinda miss those parties too, where the brother-in-law falls through the coffee table. The newest bruchetta fad just doesn’t hold up for the same memories.

    • I like to know too in case I should wear socks that have no holes–those parties are over for me for now–maybe when I am in my seventies I will resurrect them!

  8. At our place we are all fine with shoes downstairs for guests – family has to wear shoes specifically for indoors!
    And upstairs, definitely no shoes allowed 😛

    Choc Chip Uru

    • see you know what is expected – that is good–when you are unsure then it is harder 🙂

  9. Maybe it is because of where I live, and the winters being so harsh here, that I can honestly say that I’ve never been to a holiday party where someone wears their outerwear indoors. I can’t imagine that anyone would want to trudge salt, snow and grit into a host’s home. Along with plenty of holiday cheer, one must bring suitable, indoor footwear 🙂

  10. I think this is a regional thing. I grew up on the BC coast where it was common to leave your shoes on in the house but I’ve spent the last 37 years in rural Alberta where shoes come off at the door. I’ve always assumed that that’s because on the farm people didn’t want to track mud, manure, and whatever else into the house and since I’m most comfortable barefoot or in socks, it works well for me.

    When we moved to Japan we were warned ahead of time that we’d have to take our shoes off whenever we entered someone’s home, the schools we taught in, etc. but it was no problem for us since we were already accustomed to that. There, guests are always provided with slippers to wear though. I thought that was a nice touch.

    • I have friends who keep a basket of those knitted slippers by the door for guests–kind of a nice touch

  11. We have so much wet weather in the UK that it is common to take shoes off when you enter someone’s house as you wouldn’t want to walk the wet into their carpets. In the dry it is different and I don’t mind if shoes are dry if they come inside. I think your answer of wear your boots to arrive in and then change is a good one and very considerate

    • works for the winter months–but even in the spring if I wear one pair of shoes–if it is a dressy affair, I will bring another–if it is just casual, I am happy in sock or bare feet

    • I agree. We are in the UK and take our shoes off at the door then change into slippers. Our guests are also asked to remove their shoes. When visiting we automatically take our shoes off unless told otherwise.

      • me too, unless I am dressed up, I would rather be in sock or bare feet or slippers–and if I am dressed up, I bring shoes to change into

  12. I have a very dear friend who insists everyone take their shoes off when they enter her house and put on the ‘Japanese slippers’ she has just inside the door. I love her dearly, but it’s a total pain and after the first visit for a dinner party hubby doesn’t want to go back because he can’t relax in her house (which is perfect btw!). She also runs around making sure there’s no drips from drinks or crumbs on the floor 😉 She doesn’t have kids or pets either which is a shame because she’d learn about mess pretty quickly…

    As for me? I’ve got a diamond finished floating wooden floor that my two big dogs can scramble on all day and it doesn’t make a mark – I’ve even slid old furniture across it without a scratch. I’m going to put the same flooring in the old farmhouse we’re refurbishing.

    In the end – I like people to feel comfortable in my house and be able to wear what they want 😀

    Great post…

    • having your guests be comfortable is the main thing and those who do not remember that may not have guests–I feel for your husband
      -sounds like visiting you would be relaxing

  13. We’re renting. Carpets are cream and lush. We’re having people round soon and here’s the invite:

    We have moved into temporary accommodation – the servants quarters/writers’ garret/franklytooexpensiveforus – a posh pad that overlooks the skyline of London and has a garden the size of a park.

    Come and enjoy the views along with a few Christmas drinks…erm, no shoes, no red wine, no spillages…ok if you want to wear shoes, drink red wine and spill stuff stay in the kitchen. Or the park. Or write us a cheque. On second thoughts give us cash. Other than that, come and RELAX!!!

    Um, no one’s got back to me…Might have a rethink.

    • ha ha–I will come–I like white wine, and sock feet if I am forewarned-spillage though–I will be relegated to the kitchen!

  14. My goodness, LouAnn, what a topic! OK, if they have boots on and they’re all snowy, the guests had better take them off just inside our front door. If they have shoes on and they’re muddy, same deal. If the shoes are squeaky clean (or kinda clean) then it’s fine to come in. We’ll deal with this on a shoe-by-shoe basis, lol!

  15. For decades, I post a small sign at my doors “Please Remove Shoes”. That goes for everyone–guests, contactors, pets (not really pets). Many of my pals do this too. Why bring who knows what into your home/sanctuary? Would you lick the sidewalk?

    Drop those soles at the door and offer a basket of fuzzy sox to those you love and wash them after use. Really.

  16. I always tell people to leave their shoes on so their feet don’t get dirty (which isn’t going to happen, but I don’t want anyone to feel like they need to remove shoes). I wear my shoes in the house too, and would never, ever own a white carpet – I just couldn’t live like that. However, I do make my oldest kid take her shoes off so that I am taller than her in mine.

    • I love your sense of humour–and I tell people the same thing even on those occasions when the house is clean

  17. I suppose this is a cultural thing. I grew up in a shoes-off household and it was pretty much the same for every single Asian family I visited. So now it’s become a sort of second-nature thing and when people say I don’t need to take my shoes off I have to think about it for a minute before I remember that not everyone is from a shoes-off household.

    • I hardly ever wear shoes in my house unless I mean business and need to get work done–for some reason having my shoes on puts me in “get ‘er done” mode

  18. I think your solution is perfect.

    • thank you Julie–makes sense doesn’t it–and I often do not make much of that

  19. I’m easy. Either way is fine with me. I know personally I hate it when a host is a shoe nazi- it seems so awkward and uncomfortable for guests. I also know that if I have a hole in my sock I’m not exactly gonna want to remove my shoes. Good post because I think some people have strong feelings about this topic.

    • we do obsess don’t we – I am like like you–pretty easy except when my husband wears his workboots in the house

  20. Usually, I let people do what seems most comfortable to them–leave on or take off–unless, their shoes are really muddy, etc.

    • I would hope if their shoes were muddy or wet they would be smart enough to take the right action themselves

  21. Living on an island, we have lots of unpaved, natural surfaces. We also gather a fair bit of gunk on our shoes. Almost everyone I know automatically takes off their shoes and I expect to do the same when I go to someone’s house. Yes, I love crazy socks to wear or to offer a guest who needs a little comfort.

    • As someone earlier said — each case is individual–I automatically take my shoes off unless I am told to do otherwise and if I want to wear shoes in someone’s house I take another pair

  22. I’m ok either way. If people want shoes off – I take them off. It’s more comfy for me any way. If it’s more of a formal gathering – then I can see why shoes would be on. I don’t host events at my house outside of family gatherings & it’s always shoes off.

  23. shoes or slippers for me. But I want people to do what they please in my house. However if they track mud– then I get a little unnerved

    • yes, that is where I draw the line,mud and my dust bunnies do not get along at all

      • I’m a bit of a germ/dust freak. I have gotten much better due to the messiness of my family and newly acquired mutt. But it does drive me batty

      • my family cured me of my cleanliness fetish

      • it is an annoying quality that they are blessed with 🙂

  24. I just generally take my shoes off, especially if there is carpet. In my house, you are welcome to do what suits you, most people remove their shoes at the door, must be a regional thing.

    • most people automatically take their shoes off and bring clean ones if they want to wear them at a more formal functionor because they have no socks without holes

  25. I prefer that people take off their shoes on a day to day basis, but at parties where people want to look elegant I am not as fussy. I always feel taller, thinner and more confident in heels, and something about a black dress and bare feet doesn’t seem right.

    • I so agree with you–a little black dress is not complemented by bare feet — I like your take on this

  26. I feel good when my company doesn’t take off their shoes. I’m a very fussy housekeeper, but when folks leave their shoes on, it shows me that they feel at home in my house.

  27. I never ask people to take their shoes off …and if it is dry out if they go to take them off I say not to….As far as our Canadian winters I agree that most people will wear boots and bring the shoes they wish to wear….If they do not wear boots and do not take their shoes off…I still do not ask them…Friendship is more to me than perhaps a little dirt on my floors….Diane

    • Diane- your response does not surprise me at all — you seem like a very warm and welcoming individual and take your guests’ comfort to heart

  28. I try to be barefooted most of the time, I do like when people take their shoes off when they visit but don’t require it unless the shoes are muddy or wet from snow or pouring rain. It’s uncomfortable to step on melting snow in my bare feet. My grandfather used to tell people to take shoes off but to leave socks on. He hated that I refused to wear socks indoors. But he also said if God wanted me to have holes in my ears (pierced ears) I would have been born with them, so I turned the tables and told him if God wanted me to wear socks and shoes everywhere I would have come into the world with them.

    • good response — so what did he say to that?

      • He told me he couldn’t wait for me to meet and marry a man who would put me in my place. It never happened btw 🙂

      • ha ha–I am glad that his wish never came true –a man putting you in your place–unless of course it is a castle-ha ha–though you would have to learn how to live simply in garishness

      • Thank you, I am too strong willed to be able to be submissive. I can’t imagine living in a castle way too big for me, I’m just a simple gal 🙂

  29. common sense would tell you to bring shoes if the weather is bad i suppose. but i say shoes on – if you’re worried about your carpet only have barbeques

  30. Living in Canada, I agree with boots at the door. And reindeer socks. (Or flashy fold up flats. I live those…)

    • I have reindeer socks, and socks with Santa on them–lots of Christmas socks — but no flashy fold up flats–must get me some of those

  31. Living in SoCal, don’t have the snow and mud problem, but I do have beach sand and there’s a sign on my front door that asks guests to take off shoes. I hate shoes in the house.

    • so instead of dust bunnies do you have sand castles?

      • got dust bunnies too, plus lots of other dust cos it’s mostly so dry and never rains! I still supervise after the beach clean up, and inspect feet to make sure no sand comes in. You should see the car tho. that’s where the sand castle are!

  32. I go either way. The main floor of My house is mostly laminate and tile so by all means, wear your shoes. Your feet will be cold if you don’t. But if you’re heading upstairs to use the washroom, you’ll be crossing my white carpet. I would prefer but don’t insist that you remove your shoes. In fact, I’ve been to many parties that go with that rule. Shoes on the hardwood, but off when you hit carpet (assuming all hardwood is on one floor and carpeting is the next floor up or down).

  33. This is funny…I know a lot of people who always take their shoes off in the house, but I don’t like to. I agree that shoes are part of the outfit, and while I may go without in my own home, I would feel strange leaving my heels (always heels for a party!) at the front door of someone else’s home. When people offer to take their shoes off at my front door, I always tell them to do whatever they prefer. I don’t have carpet, only rugs, and they can be cleaned. Wood floors are pretty forgiving, I find. ~ Sheila

    • you can keep your shoes on when you come to my party! I think when you are dressed up you need your shoes to complete the outfit

  34. I do so hate visiting people who insist you take your shoes off at the door. My dress doesn’t look so hot without the heels. 🙂

    • many times when we are dressed up, it does take away from the outfit to take our shoes off

  35. I am American and have tried to have family & friends take their shoes off. They do it when they are at their brother and sister -in-laws in Abbottsford so why not here in Oregon?

    I have no qualms about going barefoot of course. It is what I do year round and only wear shoes and boots when it is necessary for dry warmth, or to the rare party I go to where shoes are required as part of the dress code.
    Funny thing is I don’t get a lot of invites to those parties, and always have to wonder if it because my invite would be addressed to “Barefoot” Baroness..

    So when you come to my house, the choice is yours, but should want to kick your shoes off, let your hair down and party hardy at the Baronesses I have soft fleece booties to wear for my guests.It gets cold in the high desert at night in the winter.

    • I like your style–barefoot is my main choice too when it is warm–your booties sound delicious

      • As of now there is pair reserved with your name on them Lou. Color Choice?

        Girl after this Baronesses heart to be sure, anyone who is a brave heart to go barefoot.~

      • red or green for the holiday season

      • They are both yours. Again Like YOUR style.

      • I love making such good blog friends 🙂

  36. “…the National Post devoted the front page to the subject.” Must be nice to live in a country where this is the issue of the day. Pure Paradise.

    • never thought of it that way–but it is true–though we do have some problems of our own

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