The Traditional Dutch Birthday Party!

It is my birthday today. (On a Wednesday, I know! Middle of the week birthdays suck!) And of course I have been asked by various friends how am I planning to celebrate?

This year I think I may have a quiet celebration with just my partner and have a romantic meal. (I might have a drunken get together with friends at another date.) But this got me thinking. What would the Dutch do?

Now I have heard various opinions and of course horror stories of The Dutch Circle Party from my expat friends and from my Dutch friends.  I have heard there is a strict code of conduct to Dutch Circle parties and this has me terrified. What if I say congratulations to only the birthday person? What if I sit in the wrong seat? Do I bring alcohol to a child’s birthday party?

If you’re like me, do not fret! I have done my research and here is a handy guide on how to survive and host, ‘The Dutch Circle Party: Birthday Edition.’

You will pay for everything.

It is customary to remind everyone it is your birthday by bringing (edible) gifts to work and give them to all your co-workers. Chocolate Brownies is a good one, apparently. This also stands with end of work borrel drinks, you must buy them!

You will host your own party and do everything by yourself.

A typical Dutch party will involve tea and cake, which you will pay for and will also be served by you, to all your guests in a circle. Remember it is your birthday and you must provide and serve!

Expect everyone else to be congratulated on your birthday.

Whilst you’re slaving away serving cake and tea, all your guests will be congratulating everyone who is remotely close to you. This includes and not limited to, your spouse, your uncle, your parents, your two year old niece and your pet goldfish. Gefeliciteered to all!

When you receive a gift, you must open it straight away.

You will get gifts (which is nice) and you must open them straight away in front of the person who gave it to you. People want to be immediately acknowledged for your gift and they want it displayed proudly among any other gifts and cards you may have already.

Sometimes you get to drink Alcohol.

After all the tea and cake is finished. If you’re lucky, you can have a glass of your favorite beverage.  At this point you might be expected to serve more food, like soup in Winter and maybe some old cheese and sausage in the Summer. Everyone is still sitting in a circle.

Go home.

Once you have finished serving all your guests, come 6pm, it is time for them to leave.


Happy Birthday!


Have you hosted a traditional Dutch Birthday party, have I left anything out? Have you attended a Dutch Circle party, what was your experience like? Let us know in the comments below!




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Katie Joy
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