Dutch hospitality and Barbecue Protocol
Dutch hospitality is quite rightfully famous throughout the world. In spite of students being invited to come to the Netherlands, only to discover that when they look for accommodation here, that many advertisements for rooms clearly state, “NO INTERNATIONALS” or “DUTCH GIRLS ONLY.” This doesn’t take away from the fact that the Dutch are by and large pretty hospitable, as long as you don’t arrive at a Dutch persons home unannounced at six pm. Nee, nee, nee, doe het niet!
The Shallow Man recently received a message from an expat who is new to the Netherlands and particularly Dutch social protocol. The names of the expat couple and their location in the Netherlands will remain a secret. They asked me to share their experiences so that other expats new to the Netherlands don’t make the same mistakes.
The things I do for my readers!
Welcome to Holland!
An expat couple moved to a small town in the Dutch provinces. Upon finding accommodation, they decided to invite their neighbors round for drinks. Many accepted the invitation and even though the expat couple were the only non-Dutch people present, a good time was had by all. They even learned a few things they didn’t know about their home country, which was, of course, an unexpected plus.
Dutch hospitality, guess who’s coming for dinner?
Several weeks later the expat couple was pleased to receive an invitation to attend the barbeque of one of their neighbors. Being thoughtful and generous, they decided to make a dessert to bring with them to the barbeque. They also brought some wine with them as well, even though this wasn’t requested in the invitation.
The barbeque itself was echt leuk! They had such a jolly time, even though one of the neighbors did ask them why after several weeks in the Netherlands that they weren’t speaking Dutch. That aside, they enjoyed themselves.
Doe maar normaal!
Precisely three weeks after the barbecue the expats received a message from their neighbors that left them more shocked than the Shallow Man the first time he saw how some Dutch people dress at Michelin star restaurants.
En dan nu ” de afrekening” van de bbq. Voor alle vlees, vis, alcoholeters hetzelfde bedragje… Euro 30 per set. Overmaken mag ook. Net als cash…. ”
And now “the bill” from the bbq. For the meat, fish and alcohol drinkers the same price. Thirty Euros per person. Bank transfer is also possible, as is cash.”
So the lady that received this message asked me the following question.
“Shallow Man is this kind of behavior normal in the Netherlands? The invitation definitely said nothing about having to pay afterward. What shall we do?”
To which my response was.
“In my experience, it takes a long time to reach the point whereby a Dutch person considers you good enough to come round for dinner. However, once you’re friends with them, this kind of behavior isn’t normal. Echt niet. My advice is to do the following. Charge them sixty-two euros fifty cents for the dessert that you brought with you, and tell them that as your generous, you’ll allow them to keep the five euros difference.”
No vegetarians were hurt during the writing of this post.