The Netherlands Gift Giving Customs

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Flag of The Netherlands

Capital: Amsterdam

Languages: Dutch

Currency: Euro

Commonly referred to as "Holland", The Netherlands is actually one country that is part of The Kingdom of the Netherlands, which consists of three countries: the Netherlands in Western Europe, and the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba in the Caribbean. [1]

The Greater Coat of Arms of the Realm, also known as the Coat of Arms of The Netherlands is the personal Coat of Arms of the Monarch, Queen Beatrix. The Netherlands has been an independent monarchy since 16 March 1815, and has been governed by members of the House of Orange-Nassau since.[2]

  • As a rule, the Dutch prefer to give and receive small gifts. They are very in-tune with the etiquette of reciprocity, therefore, it's best not to over-do-it when gift giving in the Netherlands[3].
  • Though small, a gift should always be of good quality, without over-spending.
  • Refrain from giving gifts prior to getting to know the recipient. The Dutch prefer giving and receiving gifts to and from those with whom they've established a close personal relationship.
  • When dining in a Dutch home, it is typical to bring a bouquet of flowers, or to send one the following day.
  • A country of wine-connoisseurs, be very careful bringing wine to your host. Select your wine carefully and keeping your hosts' taste in mind. The bottle may not be opened if it does not match the food being served, or if your host believes the bottle may have been shaken in transit.
  • Belgian chocolate is always welcome, especially for children.
Giving Gifts in The Netherlands
  • A book about your home country or city
  • Imported liquor
  • Quality pens or desk accessories
  • Designer quality calculators
  • Designer quality electronic gadgets
Gifts to Avoid in The Netherlands

Holidays in The Netherlands


Sinterklaas Avond[4]

December 5 is considered the eve of St. Nicholas' birth, and this Dutch holiday takes the place of Christmas for most of The Netherlands. While celebrations begin weeks in advance, it is on this night that Sinterklaas travels to all the Dutch homes, leaving small gifts and treats. Believed to live in Spain, Sinterklaas makes a grand entrance to the Netherlands every year, arriving in Amsterdam by steamship with glorious celebration. This beloved figure is dressed in brightly colored red robes, and rides atop a beautiful white horse upon his arrival. As western children leave gifts for Santa Claus' reindeer, Dutch children typically set out their shoes filled with hay, carrots and sugar for Sinterklaas' horse. These thoughtful gifts are then replaced with small presents, such as chocolate letters. This is the most appropriate time of year for giving gifts in The Netherlands.
In another twist, this variation of the west's Santa Claus is accompanied by a mule-riding assistant, Zwarte Piet (Black Pete), rather than elves. Zwarte Piet's skin is black with soot, for it is he who travels down the chimneys here to deliver gifts to the children.


Queen's Day

Known in the Netherlands as Koninginnedag, Queen's Day is celebrated on April 30 to mark the birthday of the country's former monarch, Queen Juliana. While Queen Beatrix succeeded her mother, Juliana, in 1980, but she has chosen to keep her mother's birthdate as the official Queen's Day observance. By far the largest celebration in the Netherlands, the festivities in Amsterdam equal those of Mardi Gras in New Orleans[5]. Considered a day of national unity and togetherness[6], all revelers dress in orange, as a reference to the House of Orange-Nassau, the reigning dynasty which is ruled by the Dutch Royal Family. The entire country celebrates with a "free market" where everyone is granted permission to sell merchandise in the streets. Children are encouraged to play games, and there are musical performances and concerts everywhere.

Related Items


  1. Wikipedia - Kingdom of the Netherlands
  2. Wikipedia - Dutch Royal Family
  3. Executive Planet - Netherlands Gift Giving
  4. LoveToKnow - Christmas Traditions in the Netherlands
  5. - What Is Queen's Day?
  6. Wikipedia - Koninginnedag