How to Throw a Dutch Birthday Party – Ultimate Guide

Everyone loves birthdays, regardless of whether it’s because of presents, the center of attention, or just because it is a great opportunity to see everyone who matters to you in one place. Now, every country has different customs when it comes to birthdays, and if you wonder how they do it in the Netherlands, well, just keep reading.

Do not expect a surprise party

If we expect something, it is not a surprise, but surprise parties organized by friends are so common in some countries that people literally expect them and plan nothing for their birthday on their own. The situation in Netherlands is different, and if you want to celebrate your birthday there, do not expect that someone will organize everything for you, as it is not something Dutch people do. Instead of that, you need to call people to come to the party and get all the snacks and drinks. This might sound surprising, but the Netherlands isn’t the only country where surprise parties are not custom, and in fact, in most countries in Europe, the host is the one responsible for invites and the entire evening. Of course, this also means that if someone plans to organize a surprise party for their Dutch friend well, do your homework and check whether they have planned something or not first.

Choose the best location

Those invited are understandably the ones responsible for the great atmosphere, and things like the setting, whether it is a themed party or not, and everything else is important, but the location of where the party will take place is also something you shouldn’t overlook if you throw a Dutch birthday party. Namely, Dutch people are pretty friendly and love a warm and cozy atmosphere, and because of that, most of them celebrate their birthdays at home, surrounded by people they love. If it is impossible because someone lives in a small student room or apartment, another option is to choose another similar location or invite people to come at different times. In that way, everyone would have enough place to enjoy and enough time to talk with their host without being interrupted all the time. The main thing is not to go big and book some renowned place for the event, as it is more about the time you have dedicated to finding that perfect spot, a place that has some meaning.

Check the presents

When people arrive, it is almost sure they will bring something as a present, and, of course, it is necessary to accept it politely. Now, this is custom regardless of where you currently are, as presents are something that, even though there isn’t any rule that says you must bring one, is implied for such occasions. Like with any other similar event, the types of presents vary, and someone will bring a bottle of wine or some other drink, others will decide to give you a book or a T-shirt, and you can expect almost everything.

Of course, there is a catch here, and the main thing to know about presents is that Dutch people will consider it an offense if we do not open them right in front of them, so we need to be careful about this rule or we might lose a friend because of misunderstanding. Sometimes it can be pretty difficult to find a perfect gift for someone, and if you do not have any idea and the party is getting closer, visit, and it is almost sure you will find something for everyone.

Do not be shy to eat

Okay, we can all agree that ’til this point, every rule or custom was pretty much the same, but it all changes when it comes to the food. Dutch people love food and enjoy eating a lot, so there is no need to be shy and take only a few small bites during a birthday party. It can be bad for people prone to gaining weight, but there is no doubt that they will enjoy socializing with Dutch people in this way. A few extra pounds are not that scary if we can enjoy delicious food and make relationships with our friends even stronger. Understandably, this doesn’t mean how one shouldn’t know when to stop eating, and a certain etiquette is also a must, as this just means how you should relax and enjoy the party to its fullest, even food-wise.

Remember friends’ birthdays

A birthday and a party that is organized that day is a big thing in Netherlands, and because of that, it is important to make one and remember the birthdays of people around us. Memorizing these dates can be pretty challenging, especially if someone has many friends, but Dutch people have a simple solution. They buy a calendar, write all the dates on it, and put it into the toilette, so they need to look at it at least a few times a day, so it is impossible to forget any of these dates. Yes, this might sound a bit funny, but it really works. In case you have a photographic memory, it all gets even easier, and of course, if there is something else that helps you memorize all those dates, go nuts.

It is a family event

Most of us are used to celebrating birthday parties with our closest family while we are young, but as we get older, it’s more of friends and colleagues gathering than anything else. Now, this is not the case in Netherlands, as the family always comes first, regardless of how old you might be, which is why inviting family members should be on your to-do list. Besides that, don’t be surprised if someone approaches your significant other or parents and congratulates them, as this is also something Dutch people do, and everyone there you are close to will also going to get some credit. Overall, Dutch people are extremely friendly and open, and this guide is there just to help you organize everything. Even if you do something rash or different, they will not be mad, far from it.

Ricardo is a freelance writer specialized in politics. He is with from the beginning and helps it grow. Email: richardorland4[at]