Entertaining for business success
Since the Dutch tend to value their privacy at home, consider a dinner invitation a rare honour.
In the Netherlands, dinner is served relatively early. If you receive an invitation for 6:30 p.m., consider yourself a dinner guest.
The host and hostess will usually sit at opposite ends of the table, facing one another. Customarily, the male guest of honour is placed to the right of the host and the female guest of honour is seated to the right of the hostess [seating at the right hand is an honour].
At the dinner table, avoid resting your hands in your lap; the best policy is to keep both wrists resting above the table.
Wine is commonly served with meals. The host will sometimes propose a toast with the term Proost! which means Cheers! In most cases, however, Proost! is not so much for wine, but more for beer and soft drinks. For wine, people may say the French Santé or nothing at all, since a friendly exchange of glances with all present while slightly raising the glass in their direction is more important. The toast may then be repeated after the company takes the first sip.
Always use utensils when eating, even with items that are considered finger foods in North America. Utensils are held throughout the meal, perhaps rested, but not put down. Knives on the right, forks on the left, spoons on the right again.
During your stay, you’ll probably observe people eating foods such as fruit, cheese, bread, sandwiches, and pizza with a knife and fork if taken at a table. You will be expected to do the same. Rolls, french fries and other small snacks can be finger food.
For restaurants, a tip of 5-10% is usually sufficient. All restaurants are legally obliged to include gratuities in the bill. If you were pleased with the service, you may leave an extra tip.
When travelling by taxi, round out to the closest euro. Chambermaids should be left 1 to 2 euros per day. When you are given a hand towel by a washroom attendant, be sure to tip the person 50 eurocents [huge inflation here!!].
The Dutch are people with initiative and like the same in others, even if these are guests in their house. At the same time, they go through life compromising. Dining together and some other activities are expected, but full-time attention is neither given nor desirable: both the guests and the host should be given some degree of privacy, with time and a choice to do their own things. Guests shouldn’t stay longer at the house than a few days.
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