Babes in Toeland

Christmas parties are full of pitfalls – eating too much, drinking too much, making off-colour remarks, cornering the hostess who’s giving off ambiguous signals, losing your pants, losing your pants again, falling into actual pits.

There’s no shortage of advice on how to handle yourself at these seasonal gatherings, but one area that’s rarely touched are your feet. No one touches your feet, and not just because of your horrid bunions.

Transitioning your feet from outdoors to inside is the great uncharted social conundrum of the season. Maybe not so great, but certainly worth discussing briefly here.

There are two basic types of Christmas parties. The first is the house party where guests tumble through the front door to greet their host. This method is fine if the tumbling is done in an orderly fashion. Sadly, most hosts don’t have the foresight to establish a queue management system prior to their event. Thus most house party arrivals devolve into mass tumbling, which is usually followed by congested bottlenecking, unbalanced body checking and the occasional flagrant bum fondling, depending on the nature of the guests and whether they’ve had pre-party cocktails.

The bottlenecking is caused by guests having to remove their footwear in the foyer. Coincidentally, “Footwear in the Foyer” was a song by Barry “Brakelight” Robinson that reached No. 14 on the R&B charts in 1958. This has nothing to do with the topic at hand, but barring anything else useful in this article, you will at least have this piece of trivia to take away.

I don’t particularly care about the tumbling and the bottlenecking because there’s really no avoiding it, plus the occasional flagrant bum fondling can be quite bracing. What happens after the boots come off is where things get tricky.



This is when you have to ask yourself: Am I a person who can traipse around a stranger’s house in my sock feet? Or am I a person who brings slippers?

If you’re a traipser, plan ahead and bring decent socks, preferably ones that will remain comfortable even after you traipse through the slush that all the bottlenecking and bum fondling has left at the front door. Avoid Hello Kitty socks, even if your wife insists you wear them.

Just no.

Just no.

If, on the other hand, you’re a slipper person, no need to worry about anyone giving you ambiguous signals because slippers are the least sexy of all the footwear. Your feet, on the other hand, will be warm and dry. So slippers, no slippers, the choice is yours. If you’re over 45, however, the choice is pretty much a foregone conclusion.

The second type of Christmas party is the posh public party, or PPP. In this case, the risk of tumbling and bottlenecking is far lower due to the presence of a coatroom and heavily insured objets d’art, which is French for “breakable.”

My wife and I were at one such PPP last week where (as Brakelight Robinson sang in his non-charting follow-up) I abandoned my boots in the vestibule. It was the kind of soirée that had bacon-wrapped hotdogs and bacon-wrapped water chestnuts, so you knew it wasn’t a slipper crowd. No, sir, there would be no bum fondling at this party, or if there was it would be highly discreet and later covered up. I felt pretty confident in my sock choice – classic, hole-less, good grip to prevent me from objet-d’arting anything – so in I went.

Shoes! All the other guests were wearing shoes, which could mean only one of two things: the guests had brought their shoes and changed into them; or they had worn overshoes, also known as rubbers, which I neither like to wear nor am able to say in mixed company.

I couldn’t enjoy the PPP because I was so conscious of my sock feet. None of the guests said anything, because that’s the kind of classy crowd it was, but you could tell when they said “pigs in blankets” that they were talking about my feet. What’s worse, we were two of the few people from Stanstead at the PPP, so I’d like to apologize to my fellow citizens for sullying our reputation or perhaps reinforcing it.

For PPPs, then, you have three options: a) don’t go if the party is classier than you; b) bring shoes; or c) don’t bring shoes, show up in your crummiest boots, find a pair you like in the vestibule, switch, go home. Posh footwear is the best.


About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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56 Responses to Babes in Toeland

  1. franhunne4u says:

    Uh, OH – classic vicarious embarrassment situation …

  2. I guess in a desert climate we don’t have to worry about taking off our boots to stocking feet (which I love- or bare feet, which are the best). But I take my shoes off every place I go if I can…I traipse around my office in bare feet much of the time. But who knew that you needed to bring extra shoes at the PPP event!

  3. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    I can’t possibly go to parties that require me to be classy. I haven’t any of it in my closet. I’m considering showing up to a party this evening dressed in my jammies.

  4. markbialczak says:

    Give some people a foot and they’ll make you stand out in the snowy yard.

  5. colemining says:

    Classic Canadian Christmas Party conundrum. I ALWAYS check my socks for holes and the like at this time of year (the other 11 1/2 months I rarely give them a second thought).

  6. Tez says:

    Having bunions, as I do, means that footwear is always optional. Living in sunny Oz means sandals are perfectly acceptable for any kind of party in any season. The bum fondling is such a distant memory, I only know it was fun. So keep having fun – you deserve it, with or without shoes and socks. Stay warm, safe and sane.

  7. formyfrog says:

    I always tell my visitors to leave their shoes on. I figure what’s more important — the people or the carpet?

  8. Kylie says:

    So funny you are.

    Now I know what my awkward holiday conversations are going to be about this year: I can’t take off my supportive boots because my foot hurts from my wart that’s healing. Yes it’s on my heel. My heel is healing. Isn’t that punny?

    And so on.

  9. Lily says:

    I was actually going to comment how much I like going over to rich people’s houses because I don’t have to remove my shoes. But I see you discovered that one on your own. I think that they don’t dis-shoe because they have a cleaning lady to vacuum when things get gross. So in turn, they don’t really care if you wear your shoes or not. I think it was a nice gesture that you took yours off though!
    In the 90’s no one took off their shoes! Remember those days? I always hate taking mine off because I’m usually wearing flats so I don’t have any socks on…yikes.

  10. Twindaddy says:

    You have to be fairly talented to lose your pants twice in the same night, don’t you? How does that happen?

  11. justaddtea says:

    Being from Texas, I’ve never had to deal with this particular conundrum, but thanks for the advice. If I find myself attending a PPP up north any time soon, I will be prepared. 🙂

  12. benzeknees says:

    Thank goodness I had finished my coffee before I read this or it would be all over my laptop screen by now! I always envied men the ability to wear “rubbers” so they could just slip them off & they were all ready to go at a party where I had to bring separate shoes to change into. Of course, I often took advantage of dear hubby & insisted he drive almost through the door to drop me off so I could wear my “dancing shoes” to the party without having to change boots at the door.

  13. pinklightsabre says:

    This is up there in terms of my favourite posts of yours, buddy. The opening in particular. And you captured some queer little social fissure when it comes to the PPP and perhaps people being too fucking uptight to take their fucking shoes off. Which resonates with me, because it so happened at a recent PPP where I insisted on taking mine off to try to loosen the others up but it didn’t work, and they weren’t worth loosening anyhow. Also awkward because I brought more alcohol than the others, which always says something about you, and can be said differently depending on who’s saying it and what they’re saying (about you). All this to say it’s cracking good fun and I dig on your riffs…keep it coming maestro. I have my holiday party tomorrow and I’m QA’ing my playlist now, second-guessing the Snoop Dogg choice and hoping no one listens to carefully to the words. I doubt they will.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Oh, that’s right, DJ Phresh Bill. Be like the narrator in High Fidelity and play the opening song you want even though you know, you know it’s a dance-floor death knell. “Got To Get You Off of My Mind” by Solomon Burke, if I recall. Because it’s your gig, baby!
      One of the best porch parties we ever had was just a bunch of friends throwing on tunes. On cassette! “Get the Message” by Electronic just grooved the party to a new level. And no shoes were worn that night.
      Sorry, where were we?
      Glad you liked this. It was one of those where I knew my destination, just didn’t know how to get there. Floated down the stream of consciousness and untangled myself from the debris. And (you’ll appreciate this) I hadn’t even planned the “pigs in blanket” gag when I first mentioned the bacon-sausages. Just happened. Don’t you love that? Thank you, brain.

  14. Oh god, “don’t go if the party is classier than you…” Well looks like I’m staying home FOREVER.

  15. sgrmse. says:

    this sounds super funny! and all the things i’ve NEVER been actually accustomed to at christmas. i wish i could actually experience a white christmas. (and you can take that any way you like.) lol!

  16. Aussa Lorens says:

    How weird. My sister in law makes us remove our shoes even in the best of weather but for the most part no one would ever expect shoe removal at a party! Must be a geographical thing. I do remember how fun it was in China to get to pick out slippers when you went into someone’s house though. My feet are bigger than 100% of all Asian women in the world so I always got to don the man slippers like a proper feminist.

  17. The Hook says:

    No party could be classier than you, buddy.

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