A German Tradition: Guest Slippers

It’s customary when you go over to someone’s house in Germany to remove your shoes at the door. Being the neat freak that I am, I LOVE this tradition, and in the mess of winter with all the snow and slush, I think it’s particularly wonderful. Simply put, outdoor and dirty shoes just don’t belong on clean floors.

That said, although removing one’s shoes does do it’s job in keeping the house cleaner, it also conjures up a new problem: cold feet- and that’s no fun!

Many German homes have combated this problem with charm, practicality and an entirely new tradition: guest slippers. Just inside that entrance to one of these homes, you will be greeted a basket, drawer or shelf filled with your choice of various slippers that are made available to guests who visit.

It’s a nice little gesture that adds comfort and coziness to any home.

Drew and I liked this tradition so much that we have adopted it in our home as well. So if you don’t want cold feet- come on over! 🙂

What are your thoughts? Should we adopt the tradition of guest slippers in the US?

13 Responses to “A German Tradition: Guest Slippers”

  1. Zoe writes:

    Yes! We do the same thing because I lived in Japan and you do the same there. Think of all the gross places your shoes have been–like public bathrooms–and then think of the time you spend sitting or laying on your living room floor (at least we do). ICK!! No shoes is way better!

  2. Emily writes:

    We need to get some guest shoes. Where did you get those cute ones?

  3. Blue Cakes Blogger writes:

    We got ours from Nanu Nana- there is one in the Hbf and also one across from the opera house.

  4. Matthew C writes:

    Removing shoes at the door is definitely a must for keeping your home clean. It’s great that so many cultures do this.

    As regards guest slippers, most British people that I have talked to about this say they would rather be in socks or bare feet than borrow slippers from somebody. Sharing slippers is a bit too weird for most people in the UK.

    I have an whole blog about removing shoes in homes: Shoes Off at the Door, Please You might like to take a look.

  5. Blue Cakes Blogger writes:

    Wow Matthew! An entire blog about removing shoes in homes. Very interesting- thanks for sharing! 🙂

  6. Adrian writes:

    Very interesting posting. Thanks! But there are some dilemmas associated with the use of slippers. What do you do if you organise a party or a dinner at your place, and guests arrive dressed up? Slippers may not match their outfits, therefore just stokinged feet could be a more elegant option. And what do you do in summer? it is doubtful that many people will want to wear slippers on their bare feet. So, stockinged or bare feet are a better solution, in my view. What do you think?

  7. Blue Cakes Blogger writes:

    Good questions Adrian!
    For us, the use of our guest slippers in our house in never obligatory, so if guests don’t want to use them they certainly don’t have to. We have found that you are correct- more people tend to use them in the winters, and then just go with stocking or bare feet in the summers, although some do use them year round.
    We haven’t yet had a dinner party that was too formal- most of our gatherings tend to be pretty casual- come as you wish / jeans, etc. so the slipper elegance question has never come up. I suppose that if we did someday throw a dressier party (although not likely in the near future with a baby on the way), we would probably just make an exception for the evening and let the guests do as they wish- keep their shoes on, use slippers, or go bare footed / with stockings.
    Someone else in another blog brought up the question of hygiene with guest slippers so I will address that here as well. If you are concerned with multiple people wearing the same slippers the answer is pretty simple- purchase slippers that are washable! And wash them. Or, if you’d rather, put out a basket of clean socks (there are some really nice and cozy fluffy ones out there) that people can use and then they can be washed. 🙂

  8. Adrian writes:

    thanks for your very thorough answer. As to the parties, my own experience suggests that the best would be to keep the “shoes off” policy for the parties as well. The advantages are many: all the guests know beforehand that they are expected to remove thier shoes and will plan their outfits accordingly; everybody will be in his/her stockinged feet, so no risk of somebody in shoes stepping over someone´s shoeless toes – that happened at some mixed shoes on/off parties, and it is no fun!As to the dress, people nowadays are becoming more accustomed to the shoes off phenomenon, and taking it more easily. Therefore, they can plan their outfits having this in mind. From this point of view, men can look reasonably smart in their socks, and women can look elegant in their stockinged feet or barefoot – especially in summer with a toenail polish to match the skirt or the dress. If I may ask, when you visit others, do you walk in your stockinged/bare feet or always prefer slippers?

  9. Blue Cakes Blogger writes:

    Good idea, thanks for sharing! 🙂
    And to answer your question- personally when I visit others I tend to follow suit of what they request guests to do (or ask). I usually keep a pair of footie socks in my purse so if I remove my shoes and have bare feet and am cold (and no slippers are offered), I can use those.

  10. Adrian writes:

    footie socks are great idea, in my view. They come in a wide array of fashions, colors, etc. these days. They can be a good option for a party. Some are transparent and barely noticeable, which makes an illusion of bare feet. Some may be black, some fishnet style, etc. They are also practical: you protect your feet from cold if need be, and you don’t need to bring another pair of indoors shoes to change into. The latter also means you will not be threading in your shoes while other guests may be bare or stockinged footed.

  11. Amy Torchia writes:

    I am having a hard time finding a place to order one set of german felt guest slippers. All the websites that seem to carry them have them at wholesale quantities. Do you know where I can get a set? Here in VT, it customary to take shoes off and leave them in the ‘mudroom’. We’ve got a lot of weather to deal with here! thanks – amy

  12. Blue Cakes Blogger writes:

    I’m not sure of anywhere in the US that would sell them, but you can get them from amazon.de. There are several sets available- just search for “Gästehausschuhe”. Here’s a link:
    http://www.amazon.de/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?__mk_de_DE=%C3%85M%C3%85Z%C3%95%C3%91&url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=G%C3%A4stehausschuhe&x=0&y=0

  13. Jodi writes:

    This is EXACTLY what I am looking for – where do I find a basket of slippers like this in assorted sizes?

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