shoes on mat

Ready or not, the holiday season is here. And if you plan to host get-togethers and parties this season that means a lot of dirty shoes traipsing through your house. What’s a germ-a-phobe to do?

You could ask guests to remove their shoes at the front door. But… is that polite? This classic etiquette question can raise some seriously heated debate in the footwear (or lack there of) community.

Even without scientific evidence, we can all likely agree that some pretty nasty stuff lurks on the soles of our shoes. Think about it. Daily walks through public restrooms. Strolls through restaurants, sidewalks, offices, you name it. Wherever you go, your kicks could be picking up a lot of germy freeloaders—and then giving them a ride through your home.

If you did want some scientific evidence, you skeptics, here it is. A 2008 study on new shoes worn by 10 participants for two weeks found bacteria on 96 percent of the shoes’ bottoms. Researchers also found E. coli on seven of the shoe bottoms. Awesome.

So, we know our shoes are gross. The easy solution involves simply asking guests to take off their shoes. But what do you do if you have guests that you aren’t too chummy with? Some people just don’t like to bare their tootsies to the world—especially in a relative stranger’s house. Or maybe they’re self-conscious of their smelly feet. Others (ahem… me) also plan their outfit around their shoes.

How do you make guests feel at ease, while also sticking to your no-shoes policy? Try these tricks to help guests feel more comfortable sans shoes.

Let Guests Know Ahead of Time

Whether on the invitation or in-person, inform your guests of your no-shoe policy so they know to be prepared. To make them feel more comfortable, you could suggest they change out of their boots or winter footgear and into their (clean!) party shoes at the door.

Make a Sign

Bring a little humor to the situation by posting a fun sign by the door asking guests to remove their shoes. Try “Sock Party!” or, “Please Remove Your Shoes. Don’t Take Better Ones On The Way Out.” Get creative!

Offer Slippers or Socks

Start everyone off on the same foot (ha!) by providing slippers or socks for your guests. Be sure to supply enough for all of your guests. Offering slippers may seem a little strange to some, but those who came with bare tootsies or ugly socks under their shoes will appreciate the gesture.

Just Go With It

Whatever your guests decide to do, just go with it. Don’t put your foot in your mouth. You don’t want a shoe scenario to ruin your party. If your guests feel more comfortable with their shoes on, then clean the floor later.

Follow Kirsten on Twitter @kirsten_hudson

image: littleREDelf