A question I’m often asked by friends as they have started a shoes off preference in their home is, how do you kindly–and not awkwardly ask guests to remove their shoes? So maybe it’s an enforced rule, kind of, at least in your home for your household roommates aka family, and you’d love for your guests to participate when visiting your home. Let’s talk about that!
Before you start leaving hate comments on this post, calm down.
- If you prefer to leave your shoes on for medical reasons or your socks don’t match, of course you are welcome. We have had several keep their shoes on, so we say, “If you feel comfortable enough to take off your shoes, please do, or keep them on, whichever makes you feel most comfortable.”
- For parties like cocktail, baby showers, guests I don’t know (like big party) then of course the shoes go with the outfit, keep them on! It won’t look that great when everyone is standing in a cocktail dress with bare feet right?
- I don’t ask clients to remove shoes. They are going a short distance and heading into my office straight from the front door.
But for the other days, say a casual get together, maybe we’d just like our new friends who will come over again in the future to know our preference, that’s all. No need to get so offended, this post is about trying to make both sides have peace with it!
If you’re reading this post you might be curious to see how to start to join in on the no shoe in the house movement. I swear I’ve waited for this day – when the rest of the country would join in with Asians by kicking off their shoes at the door – making it less awkward for me. Haha!
The no-shoe preference becomes regular for your guests who really know you – but what about the guests who don’t? Like how do you say it, if at all?
Here you are trying to adult and make new friends or invite people over that are your child’s friends and their parents but you don’t want to inconvenience them or make it awkward if they have these crazy lace up boots but at the same time, inside you’re cringing counting how many thousands of bacteria are being spread across your floor and you can’t wait to get the Lysol spray the whole place once they leave, but you don’t want them to leave because you enjoy them but you can’t relax because you’re staring at their shoes on your carpet. Sound familiar?
But let’s get back to every day.
So maybe you might need some help to tell new guests about your no shoe policy, or you may decide your new home will now be a shoe-free zone. So how do you enforce it, politely?
Before I get started, please remember you aren’t going to lose friends over asking them to take off their shoes – really. And anyone who is that offended (trust me there are some, these people leave crazy comments here on the blog post), well they won’t show it but they will talk about it behind your back so let them. So don’t worry about the request – your guests would rather abide by your rules than make the host uncomfortable! But maybe you are here because you are a guest and uncomfortable with taking off your shoes and you landed on this post – well just say something! That’s ok too! You decide what is best for you, but if you really can’t take off your shoes your guests aren’t going to care, truly. But if you are just being angry about and you don’t want to (and plan on leaving a rude comment that won’t be approved for anyone to see anyway) then ok, you can do that too. You decide how to communicate your preference and respect others request.
Notify guests ahead of time
Here on my Instastories I shared the story about how we ask guests to remove shoes –
- Text the heads up to people. I had a friend who was coming to visit for the first time, for a LONG time. I text her about her weekend stay and said, “Hey heads up we don’t wear shoes in our home, so bring some socks to keep your toesies warm.” She ended up loving the no shoes feeling and she said she’d go home and enforce the rule at her own house with her hubby! And when I went to visit her in NC, she did! See, you too can change the life of a friend, haha.
- Tell someone to tell other people. Another example is we host a small group with our church, weekly. When we started, we told our small group leaders about our no shoe rule and they sent out an email to let everyone know. Another way could be for you to text, “Hey so excited to host and see you all, just wanted to let you know we like to go barefoot in our home just in case you need to make sure socks match!”
- Explain it at the door. If you have little ones you can use the valid excuse that your little ones are crawling and touching everything on the ground, and to keep germs at bay, shoes off at the door is super helpful to keeping the home and baby healthy! No one is going to argue with keeping the health of a baby! But really, no guest is going to argue with you.
- Make your husband/wife say it. If it’s a certain side of the family you can’t tell them to not fold the towels like that, or put their feet up on your coffee table because you’re just not that close, make your significant other do it. If it’s his/her family, they know how to say it.
- Set the example at the door. I had to do this when I was a single gal dating. I’d come in and immediately take off my shoes and just say, “I’d love for you to hang out for a bit, do you mind kicking off your shoes?” Um, 100% chance they will. Usually guests look down and observe if shoes are on or off – that’s what I do anyway so then I follow suit!
I once asked guests when I opened the door and they started to their their shoes off outside before they came in, LOL!
That has happened a handful of times and I feel so awful, so I try to wait until they step in and I say just kick them off and put them on the mat. I also add, “Don’t worry! Floor is clean!”
Make a shoes off sign for unexpected guests
If you don’t have time to explain or asking is too confrontational, make a chalkboard sign. Hang it on your doorknob outside. And pray your guests can read or the door isn’t left open from other guests so they don’t overlook it.
Or make your own and borrow this saying –
Or, buy a sign and mount it, I love this one!
Ideas on what to write on the no-shoe sign
- Please remove your shoes we like to go barefoot inside
- Shoes off please
- Because little hands touch our floor, please leave your shoes at the door
- Friends, please help keep our house neat, no shoes on your feet
- Welcome to our home, leave your worries – and your shoes – at the door
- Please take off your shoes and stay a while
- Please remove your shoes and don’t take a better pair when you leave
- If you’re not God or John Wayne, please take off your boots
- Welcome y’all kick off your shoes and come on in…
Or here’s an iron sign that says “no shoes please” you can drill to the side of your home.
How to respond to guests who push back or say something rude
Of the hundreds of people who have come into our home over the past 10 years (and even more over the lifetime I have always been a shoe free home), I have never had anyone push back on taking off their shoes, but I understand some of you fear it, or have. I hope this helps –
- Let them wear their shoes. At the end of the day if that’s a small fight they want to have, let them win, be a gracious host. If it’s incredibly rude, then don’t invite them back but I am hopeful your friends are not rude people.
- If you aren’t sure if you want to really go all in with the no shoes, or just slowly implement it, just be barefoot yourself, leave a pile of shoes off at the front door, and hopefully your guests will see it and ask. If they do, you can say if they feel comfortable or don’t worry about it.
- Offer house slippers or socks – I’m suggesting this again.
- No matter how rude the pushback, it’s not the time to be passive aggressive, as much as you might want to – just let it go. Then clean right after they leave or hire a cleaning person to help!
Your duty as a shoe-free host
Don’t ask for guests to be barefoot when you have crumbs and hair all over your floors, that’s not cool, make sure you have clean floors. – If you see the previous post (link at bottom) theres a discussion about socks on or off, isn’t that funny!?
Offer new socks, have slippers, whatever will make it easier! Here is what I recommend – we offer both to guests, socks and slippers! Pick up a pack at Forever21 or TJ Maxx next time you are out!
If you are a guest who can’t remove your shoes
I’d be shocked if someone who is already upset gets this far on the blog to read this, but God bless you if you are still reading and not jumping straight to the comments box! If asked reply the following –
- Tell the truth why you can’t. That’s it.
And your guest will be like oh great, then keep them on! Really it’s not the biggest deal. Don’t get mad at their preference, don’t get all bent out of shape because they prefer shoes off in their home. If you roll with it and kindly explain your host will be happy to accommodate! It goes both ways! Then enjoy the time together shoes on or off!
Do you wear shoes in your home? Do you think you’d ever implement a no shoe policy? How do you ask guests to remove shoes?
This post was originally published on July 12, 2019 and updated on May 3, 2021.