It makes no difference which country you live in; your kids will get excited about their birthdays anywhere in the world! We will explain how the Dutch do ‘party time’, on this page. Read on to find out what will be expected of you when you give, or attend, a kid’s party in the Netherlands. You can read about the Dutch celebrations and etiquette surrounding the birth of a new baby in this article as well.
Kid's Birthdays in the Netherlands
In Dutch a ‘Birthday’ is called a ‘Verjaardag‘. These are, of course very important occasions for your kids! This is how they are celebrated by the Dutch:
Birthday Morning in NL
- The birthday boy or girl will get to trakteren at school on his or her birthday
- This means that, in the morning, he or she will hand out little items of food to his or her classmates
- There are about 30 children in the average Dutch school class. Consequently, this happens two or three times a month!
- For this reason, many teachers prefer their pupils to bring something other than sweets for their birthday trakteren
- Tangerines, cheese or ‘worst’ on toothpicks (slices of sausage), pieces of apple or even little boxes of raisins are common popular alternatives to candy
- Some parents put a lot of effort into making these packages look fun. They arrange their the snacks into the shapes of bugs or boats or dolls
Kid’s Birthday Parties in NL
It is customary for children to have birthday parties in the Netherlands. In fact, Dutch children sometimes even have two!
- A couple of their best friends from school and/or the neighborhood will be invited
- There will be fun activities and party games for the kids
- As a parent, what you organize for the party depends on your budget and your imagination
- The following activities tend to be enjoyed by children: a visit from a clown, a treasure hunt, dressing up and making a movie, visiting a circus, visiting a puppet theater
- If you are stuck for ideas, ask other parents about what is popular among the children in your child’s age group
- Extended family and other grown-ups, who will bring their kids with them, will attend the second party
- There will not usually be any organized fun and games
- The party will centre around the receiving of gifts
- Cake and cookies will be eaten
- Aunts and uncles will inevitably talk about how much everybody has grown since the last time they saw them
Receiving an Invitation
Here is what you can expect, if your child is invited to a Dutch Birthday Party:
- The invitation will state when and where the party is taking place
- It will also tell you what to bring. Your child might need, for example, a bathing suit or a dress-up costume
- The Dutch are not into big expensive gifts
- Generally speaking, you will be expected to bring something that cost between € 7.50 and € 15
- If you bring something more expensive, your hosts might feel a little embarrassed
- Do not forget to arrive ON TIME. This is Holland, remember?
Visiting a newborn baby in NL
The Dutch custom of visiting a newborn is called: ‘kraambezoek‘. It is quite a ritual in the Netherlands. If you want to celebrate the birth of your own baby in the Dutch style, here is your step by step guide:
- When your child is born, you must send out announcements. These are called ‘geboortekaarten’ in Dutch, which means ‘birth cards’. You can send them to just about anyone you parents know: 90-year-old aunts, colleagues you haven’t seen in years, uncles you never really liked, your best friend from nursery school etc
- Beware, because everyone will respond! The Dutch will consider the birth card to be an invitation to come and admire your little one
- Be sure to stock up on some ‘beschuit met muisjes’. These are a ‘rusks covered with sugared aniseeds’.
- Pink aniseeds are served to guests if you have had a baby girl and blue if you have had a boy
Eating aniseeds is meant to be healthy for mothers, and to stimulate their milk production. We can’t tell you why everyone else has to eat them too…
If you do not want too many people to come knocking on your door when you are trying to rest with your new baby, you can:
- Include the following sentence in your birth card: ‘Moeder en kind rusten van 13.00 – 15.00 en ná 20.00 uur.‘ This means: ‘Mother and child will be resting from13:00 -15:00 and from 20:00
- Or you could use: ‘Bezoek is welkom, maar bel even’: ‘Visitors are welcome, but please call in advance’
- Many birth announcements contain one of these Dutch phrases, and it is not considered rude in the Netherlands
Naturally, children get very excited about some festivities that take place at other times of the year as well. You can read all about Christmas related celebrations in our our article on ‘Typical Dutch festivities’. We have a page about how to celebrate ‘Special occasions the Dutch way‘ as well.