The Major Home Rule You Might Break This Holiday

published Nov 8, 2017
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(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

Most of us have those few die-hard house rules that no one dares contest. (Maybe it’s the way you put toilet paper on the roll or what gets put in the dishwasher versus hand washed.) But in a time of year when guests frequent our homes and a bustle of activity means that not everything will go your way, consider letting go a little bit and embracing a gracious spirit of hospitality that puts your visitors’ comfort ahead of your own.

A shoes-on versus shoes-off policy at home has always been a polarizing topic here on Apartment Therapy, eliciting strong feelings and inspiring heated debate.

Those who subscribe to a shoes-off perspective have good reasons for asking that shoes be taken off at the door. They know that shoes track in all kinds of not only general dirt, but also chemicals from pesticides, bacteria, and allergens that could affect the members of their household. Maybe they wish to preserve their wood floors from dents caused by high heels or extend the life of their light-colored carpets. Perhaps they have a crawling baby and wish to keep their floors as clean as possible. And in many cases, shoes-off might be a non-negotiable cultural tradition.

If you fit into any of these categories, you know that, however important it is to you, it’s also often awkward to ask guests to remove their shoes.

There are definitely legitimate reasons that justify both sides of the argument, but shoes-off-ers might consider a temporary shift for the holiday season. Here’s why.

(Image credit: Chelsea Francis )

Why You Should Relax Your “Shoes Off” Policy This Season

With so many people in and out of your home this holiday season, the potential for tricky shoes-off requests that no one likes saying or hearing, frankly, drastically increases.

Many of your guests will be in holiday attire; by asking for shoes off, you may not only be making them uncomfortable, you may be ruining their nicely planned outfit and making a more formal, festive occasion just a tiny bit weird by having everyone in their socks or bare feet.

You may also be hosting people whom you don’t know as intimately as the friends who come over any old time and help you fold laundry. Consider the impact of welcoming your new friends in with a hug and a drink rather than an exchange about shoes that leaves them mortified about the hole in their sweaty socks.

It might be extra hard to let go of the fact that, yes, dirt et cetera will be tracked into your home (and you can’t air it out since it’s so cold… and now the shoes have caked on mud because it just rained). But thinking about how you can ameliorate these issues yourself rather than expecting your guests to bear the brunt of your house rules might help. Remember that you’re probably cleaning more anyway since you’re hosting more often. You’re also spending more time indoors and upkeep is going to be more frequent regardless.

Last but not least, cut yourself some slack by loosening up a bit on your shoes-off policy and the tension that often goes with it (the asking, the irritation when someone doesn’t do it, the angst over the consequences). Even in this personal household matter, embracing the season of giving will create an atmosphere of warmth and good cheer in your home.