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When you invite someone to your house it can be pretty awkward to ask them to remove their shoes- especially if they are wearing sandals or flip- flops. Here's how to do it.
- Create an area clearly visible from the entrance where you can place your shoes that you have taken off. When people enter, they'll see the "shoe area" with you and your family's shoes, they'll see you (and other household members) without shoes on, and hopefully they'll put two and two together.
- Invite them in to the house. Try saying, "Do come in - you can put your shoes on the rack." That way the request is tagged neatly on to the invitation to enter. In fact, it would be very awkward at this point for your guest to do anything other that remove their outer footwear.
- Know that if they should not take the hint, ask again more firmly, but politely. Give a good reason for asking them such as having had new carpets or having just had them cleaned, the weather being particularly foul or you can say that your driveway is gritty and you're trying to minimise how much of it gets walked in.
- You might provide socks or slippers for guests. In Japan, it is unheard of to walk into someone's house in your shoes which are always left outside, and pretty slippers are always available. These can be bought quite cheaply in most high streets. However, you will probably find that most guests will prefer to be in socks or barefeet than wear borrowed slippers.
- It is best to let people know in advance that you would like them to remove their shoes. You could say "Oh, by the way we don't wear shoes in our house. You may want to bring some slippers."
- If you are inviting guests to a party, write your request for 'no shoes' on the invitation.
- Provide socks or slippers for guests. In Japan, it is unheard of to walk into someone's house in your shoes which are always left outside, and pretty slippers are always available. These can be bought quite cheaply in most high streets.
- Have scented foot spray available in case your guest is embarrassed at having foot odour.
- Ultimately, it is your responsibility as a host to ensure that your guests feel welcome in your home. If your guests wish to keep their shoes on you must ask yourself which is more important - your flooring or your friends.
- While it may be scary to ask people to take their shoes off, remember that most people will feel more comfortable for having removed their shoes. Most people will not be at all bothered by having to remove their shoes. If you are a good host, most guests will be happy regardless of whether they are in their shoes or not.
- Some people will not understand why you wish them to remove their shoes in your home, and may be offended.
- In some cultures, having bare feet is a sign of disrespect.
- Some people may have a good reason for not removing their shoes - be sure you know that they are not going to be embarrassed by your request.
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