Dutch Customs and Etiquette - Dining and Entertainment

Dining and Entertainment

  • Food does not play a major role in hospitality, and sharing a meal is not necessarily considered a social occasion. Offering food is not considered imperative for making someone feel welcome, although coffee, tea, fruit juice or a carbonated drink are usually offered to guests.
  • A waiter or waitress is beckoned by making eye contact and raising a hand, perhaps adding "ober" (waiter) or "mevrouw" (which normally means "madam", but for a waitress it is correct) or "meneer" (sir). Fingersnapping is considered extremely rude.
    • Tipping is a sign of appreciation of service; some people do, some do not. It also depends on the type of establishment one is in: in a bar it is rare, in a restaurant more common. The tip is usually between 5% and 10% rounded towards a full figure. Like in many other countries in Europe, the bill (legally) includes service fees that guarantee a decent basic income for the serving staff regardless of tips.
  • In many restaurants, one can simply sit down at a table, without waiting to be seated. A waiter will (usually) come over once you are seated to bring the menu and/or take the order. After that, if you want or need something, it may be necessary to call a waiter. This depends on the restaurant. Usually, the bill will not be provided until requested.
  • In most cases the Dutch will make it clear beforehand who intends to pay the bill. If not, the arrangement is assumed to be "go Dutch". No one will be embarrassed at splitting the bill, which is the norm. Often no time is taken to find out how much each person should pay. Simply dividing the bill by the number of people present is more common.
    • On a romantic date, the man is expected to pay for the woman (although she may offer to pay her share out of politeness or to show her independence). She may leave a tip for the waiter.
    • When in a bar with friends, especially among young people, it is usually understood to buy each other rounds of drinks. Not returning a round is considered impolite. If you intend to leave before everybody has had the chance to buy a round, it is polite to announce this and to buy your own drinks.
  • Guests should not expect a meal unless the invitation mentions it. It is impolite to stay until dinnertime. Dinner is often considered a family or private moment. Usually only family or the closest of friends may join without asking.
    • When inviting a Dutch person for dinner it is not automatic that the invitation will be reciprocated. A far more common invitation is to come over and drink coffee.
    • Guests invited for home dinner by a student or a younger person may be asked to share the costs of the ingredients.
  • It is polite to keep hands above the table during a meal but elbows should be kept off the table.
    • It is normal to stay an hour or two after dinner. The Dutch dine early: often around 6 pm, unusually after 7pm. But (dinner) parties may continue until very late in the evening, even into the early morning.
    • It is polite to offer to help with the dishes or cleaning of the table. Out of the same politeness, the host will usually decline the offer.
    • It is permissible to politely refuse a second helping at the table.
  • When invited to someone's home, it is polite (but certainly not required) to bring a small gift for the hostess. Sending flowers before or after the party is considered inappropriate, but bringing them on the day is acceptable. A bottle of alcoholic beverage (usually wine) can also be brought as a gift, but implies either a closer relationship or a more momentous occasion.
    • Spending money on sending flowers is seen as wasteful. Mailing gifts is done rarely, mostly in cases when the giver is not present at the festive occasion, or unable to transport the gift to the party. In the second case there will be some symbolic representation of the gift, often meant humorously. Groups pitching in together for a gift are common, especially for adults.
  • It is considered impolite to ask for a tour of the host's home. If offered, however, accepting is considered polite.
  • When invited to a birthday party or wedding, guests are expected to bring a present. Depending on the occasion, common gifts include flowers, chocolates, alcohol, perfumes, books, CDs, DVDs, gift certificates or "an envelope" (undisclosed amount of cash in a sealed envelope). Often, wedding invitations have symbols on them indicating what kind(s) of gifts the couple would like to receive.
    • Children may be given toys or books. Pets are never given unannounced. A gift certificate (usable to buy books, CDs, DVDs or computer games) or an envelope is a good choice to give to an adolescent. When a gift is intended for a young child (below the age of 12 or so), it is often considered good manners to consult with the parents beforehand in order to find out if they consider a certain gift acceptable.
    • Gifts are unwrapped and admired immediately after receiving. However, 'envelopes' should be opened after everyone has left.
    • At birthday parties, one does not only congratulate the one having his or her birthday, but often the new guest shakes hands with all other guests already present and congratulates each and everyone of them, saying something like "Congratulations on John('s birthday)", or, when the relationship is known, "Congratulations on your brother's/neighbour's/son-in-law('s birthday)". A similar practice is observed at wedding parties.

Read more about this topic:  Dutch Customs And Etiquette

Famous quotes containing the word dining:

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    Edna Ferber (1887–1968)