I have a number of friends who have recently purchased houses, and one of them expressed that as soon as their hardwood floors were done, they were going to become "crazy shoe people" and require everyone coming in to remove their shoes. Inwardly, I kind of groaned, because while I totally and completely understand that shoes track in all kinds of dirt, I also don't really like removing my shoes when I come into somebody's house, but it seems that you cannot answer the question, "do you mind removing your shoes?" with, "yes." (As Carrie Bradshaw learned in that Sex and the City episode. Which is pretty much the only one where I sympathize with her.)
Removing my shoes bothers me for a couple of reasons, all of which are pretty much exclusive to being in a house with hardwood floors. For the past two or three months, I've had this odd pain in the ball of my foot. It's fine as soon as I put on shoes, and I've made it through marathon training as well as a 20-mile trail race without it getting any worse or better, and it finally lightened up a bit after the marathon (hmmm), but when it flares up, it is excruciating on hardwood floors. (I know this because my yoga studio also makes people remove their shoes, and limping from the cubbies to the mat pretty much had me in tears.) In addition, when I had another foot injury a few years ago, my podiatrist basically told me that I was to wear sneakers at all times, at home or at work, until I had fully recovered. So I feel like maybe this is a valid reason to leave my shoes on.
Another issue is that my feet are always cold. Always. Especially at my in-laws house, where removing your shoes is expected, and their kitchen floor is some kind of tile that must be chilled with frozen water running underneath it or something. Even with regular socks on, I spend any time in the kitchen shivering. My in-laws all wear slippers, and even my husband keeps an old pair of his slippers there. Since we started dating, I began stocking up on fuzzy, warm socks which I always toss into my overnight bag when we go visit*. In fact, pretty much anytime I go to stay at anyone's house, I bring the fuzzy warm socks, because it's just necessary. I don't bring the socks to my friends houses when I am just coming over for dinner, although I'm thinking to start. I also have a couple of pairs of shoes that I wear without socks, so when I have to remove those and am barefoot, it's quite chilly.
I've been wondering for a long time what the solution to my issues are. I repeat, I definitely understand why people ask others to remove their shoes when they come into their houses. Especially with hardwood floors, or pets, or children, or me as a friend. However, I think that there are a couple of things that hosts could do to consider their guests feelings when maintaining a shoe-free household. One friend on Twitter (I think Beth) suggested providing a basket of slippers for guests when entering your house. Since slippers are generally pretty generic sizes, I thought this was a great idea. Another alternative would be to provide a basket of socks. I think a final alternative is to remind guests when inviting them over for dinner that you maintain a shoe-free home and they are welcome to bring their own slippers or socks.
Do you maintain a shoe-free home? Are there any alternatives that I haven't suggested for making sure that both your guests are comfortable and your house stays neat and tidy? Would you ever implement any of my suggestions?
*I think my mother-in-law also turns the heat up when we come to stay. She's a nice lady. She also buys me slippers for Christmas, but I don't yet have a spare pair to move up to their house. I did find a pair of fuzzy socks in my stocking this year.