Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Should One Provide Slippers for Guests?


In some Eastern European and Asian countries, guests change from their shoes into slippers provided by the host.

Some argue that if you intend to have a shoes-off policy in your home, you should keep some slippers for guests to wear. It is argued that this will make them feel more comfortable and prevent embarassments such as foot odour and holes in socks.

I am not so sure about this one. If slippers are provided, then they must either be disposable plastic slippers or else slippers that can go in the washing machine. It would be quite unreasonable to expect guests to wear slippers that have been worn by somebody else that day. I am not sure whether most slippers are machine washable. Some guests might not even trust you that they really have been cleaned and may prefer to stay in bare or stocking feet.

I think the practise of providing guest slippers might be just a bit too weird for British. Many British people will have been to a house where shoes-off was required, but not many people will have been offered guest slippers to wear, unless it was in another country. I think a lot of English guests would prefer to go barefoot, rather than wear slippers that are not their own.

I think it is a good idea to buy slippers for family and regular visitors and keep them at your house. These should be worn only by the person they are provided for. Hopefully, one's family and close friends would be delighted by this consideration.

Providing clean socks is a different matter. I would suggest keeping a supply of clean socks in different sizes by the door for guests who are not comfortable going barefoot.

I think it is very sensible to let visitors know in advance that one has a shoes-off rule in one's home. That way, they can be sure to wear socks without holes or bring their own slippers if they prefer.


pointnine said...

Funny how culture-bound this issue is! I enjoyed reading how the English (or at least some of them!) feel about it. (See my comment on the previous post for the American -- or at least some of us -- perspective.) I've had to wear other people's slippers in Russia and the Czech Republic. In CR I was given the deceased grandfather's slippers...uhhh, kind of, uhhh, a little unsettling. Have had many Asian friends (from all over Asia, I can't recall if Thais were different from Koreans, say, in this regard) take their shoes off at my place, but have never been to an Asian home (in Asia), so I wonder what the practice is there vis-a-vis barefoot/socks or slippers. In Croatia I was absolutely to remove my shoes, but was never given slippers or asked to wear them.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I think your point about size is significant.

If one chooses to provide slippers, one has to go to the trouble of providing a range of sizes, unless one goes for some sort of big, one-size fits all plastic slippers.

I spent two months doing mission work in Japan.

The slippers provided there were not that comfortable.

Japanese feet are broader, shorter and flater than European feet and the slippers certainly reflect that.

Removing shoes seems to be pretty much the norm in Asia.

I believe Fillipinos, Indians, Pakistanis and Sri Lankans are the least strict about it, while in other parts of Asia it is imperative.

God Bless