Cliff Notes for Dutch Social Occasions

Look, if you are going to hang out with Dutch people, here’s what you need to know:

First of all, you will be paying for your own party. Friends don’t invite you out for your birthday; you invite them out (and you pay) or you invite them to your house and bake your own cake.

Second, there must be coffee.  Period. If you’ve every met a Dutch person, you’ll know.

Third, it’s three kisses when you meet. Not one like Latinos, not two like the French, it’s three. Mess that up and you’ll end up kissing your brother-in-law on the lips at the airport. Not that that’s happened.

Fourth, there’s an order to every gathering. Do not deviate from the order, or the rule-following Dutch people will get very uptight. First, serve the coffee. Then, offer whatever small thing you are serving to eat. This is typically a coffee, but it could be a slice of tart or something else. Then, offer everyone coffee again. They will take it; they are Dutch. After two coffees and a cookie, THEN you can offer everyone juice, wine, beer or liquor. After those drinks are gone, the party is over.

Fifth, when you are simply meeting someone in their home, they will offer you a coffee and a cookie, followed by another offer of coffee. The correct response to an offer of coffee is, “Yeah, lekker.” Or, “Yes, nice.” You can say “lekker” to  most anything, by the way. It seems to mean good, delicious, fun and nice, all at the same time. Lekker is always acceptable, in any context.

Coffee servings are not the 6 ounce cup you and I are used to; no these are more akin to a children’s tea set. That must be why they offer coffee twice.

Lastly, Dutch people need their coffee like fish need water. When in doubt, always offer. They even have free tiny cups of coffee in the grocery store, in case a Dutchie  is running desperately low on the fuel of life.

There you have it. While you haven’t mastered the language, these six tips plus a bicycle and a pair of ice skates are nearly all you need for social success in Holland.

Tot ziens!

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