Your Guide To The Dutch Holiday Season

Say goodbye to Sinterklaas

The Sint is out the door on December 5th, and that means once December 6th comes, it is time to switch gears. Eat the chocolate letters, hide the kruidnoten, change the music, and don’t forget to switch your vocabulary from Sinterklaas to Father Christmas/Santa Claus.

Plan the perfect light display

Festive lights aren’t quite at competition level yet in the Netherlands. Saying that, as each year passes the level of light decoration grows. Keep that in mind when planning your decorations, especially if you are the competitive type.

Drag the tree up the stairs

Christmas isn’t Christmas without a tree. No matter if you are partial to artificial or prefer the real thing, there is one hurdle between that tree and your apartment—the steep, narrow stairs (unless you are staying somewhere with a lift!). Deep breath, head held strong, and whatever you do, don’t let go. At least getting it down the stairs is usually easier!

Factor in more shopping time

One of the great things about shopping in the Netherlands is that most shops will offer to gift wrap your purchase free of charge. Super handy for all those holiday gifts! The downside? All those purchases are usually wrapped at the till by the same person ringing you up. Meaning each purchase that is going to be wrapped, for you or another shopper, adds more time to the whole shopping experience.

Don’t forget your December stamps

Each year the Dutch postal service, PostNL, releases special December stamps. The stamps are sold at a reduced rate, leaving you no excuse for not sending out Christmas and/or New Year cards. You have been warned.

Prepare for two Christmas meals

The Netherlands celebrates Christmas over two days, December 25th and December 26th. Traditionally, this allowed you time to spend with both sides of the family. But this does mean there are two Christmas meals to make space for/endure/cook for (delete as appropriate). Good luck with the bulging stomach!

Grab an oliebol or two or three

Deep fried dough balls covered in powdered sugar. Eaten especially on New Year’s Eve, these fried delights start popping up in the bakeries and at special oliebollen stands from October on. While it might feel like the right thing to wait until the end of December before indulging, why not start early this year? We promise not to tell!