Entertaining for business success
A Dutch friend or closer acquaintance may invite you to his or her home for mid-morning coffee on weekend days. Typically, coffee with milk and sugar is served, as well as a biscuit. Another serving of coffee and a biscuit follows; when finished with these, you will be expected to leave, unless the conversation is really lively.
The Dutch tend to drink a lot of coffee, particularly the stronger blends.
Arriving on time to social events is essential in Dutch business culture.
In Dutch business culture, all social events have to be carefully scheduled and planned. Generally, the Dutch will not appreciate being invited out at a moment’s notice. Outdoor activities are mostly done only with good friends.
Dinners–and lunches to a lesser extent–are popular occasions for Dutch business entertaining. Moreover, these meals tend to be held in restaurants rather than private homes.
There is no need to be feel slighted if you don’t get invited out to lunch. The Dutch lunch period is frequently brief and hurried, leaving time for only simple fare such as a sandwich. Most companies have only a simple canteen for all personnel.
Because the Dutch usually prefer to host informal gatherings before or after dinner, do not assume an invitation to a Dutch home to mean that you will be eating a meal, especially if the start is at 8 p.m. or later. If there will be a meal, it will probably be mentioned in the invitation. When in doubt, phone your host or hostess to confirm what has been planned.
Regardless of the occasion, it’s essential that you arrive on time and bring a small, quality gift. Good choices include flowers or a potted plant, a small assortment of chocolates, decorative candles or a book about your home country. Always keep in mind that modest gifts are appreciated; the Dutch tend to frown upon excessive displays.
If you know that children will be present, it’s recommended that you bring something for them, too, such as candy or a small toy.
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