"If you think business and manners don’t mix, try talking with your mouth full.” - Diane Gottsman, Modern Manners & Etiquette Expert, Author, Media Resource

Removing Shoes at House Parties

April 5th, 2017 by

Dear Diane,


I was recently invited to a house party. When I arrived, the host asked me to remove my shoes at the door. I felt uncomfortable and somewhat caught off guard. Is it proper etiquette for someone to make such a personal request?


John P.

shoes at parties

Dear John,

I understand your hesitation when it comes to removing your shoes at someone else’s home. Whether your heels complete your outfit or you just feel uncomfortable being barefoot outside of your own home, taking off your shoes may feel awkward and almost too personal. But there are certain, and valid circumstances in which the request to remove shoes is appropriate and there is a right way to go about it.

Reasonable Requests

Although it may seem like a nuisance to be asked to leave your shoes at the door there are many good explanations behind the request. One might be to honor cultural traditions. Another may be for health reasons. Someone inside the home may suffer from serious allergies. In this case, it’s best to leave the dirt and germs outside. Inclement weather may also be a factor, a very good reason to leave footwear by the door. After all you wouldn’t want to be walking around on a muddy or wet carpet during a get together.


One big motivation behind a hosts’ decision to go shoeless is his or her children. A crawling baby or a toddler could easily pick something up on a dirty floor. Shoes at the door assures your floors stay cleaner and less opportunity to track in germs. Following this simple house rule could help keep little ones healthier.

Warn Guests Ahead of Time

This isn’t a request you want to spring on your guests. Send an email ahead of time suggesting everyone bring a fun pair of socks or slippers to your shoe-free event. You could also provide some sort of inexpensive footwear as a gift for your guests. Some people may feel uncomfortable traipsing around your house barefoot and this would ease the sticky situation.

Clean Break

Noone wants to dig through a mountain of shoes when leaving a house party. If you ask guests to remove their footwear, provide a clean area to leave them behind. Make sure there is plenty of room for guests to line up shoes, so they won’t topple into a big pile. Providing shoe racks and placing a chair or small bench near the door for everyone to use when removing shoes, will make for an easier transition.

Best of luck,

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Categories: Ask the Etiquette Expert