International Gift Giving Etiquette - Netherlands



General Guidelines

  • The Dutch like a balance in payment and other obligations: they like neither giving nor receiving large gifts, great favours or other preferential treatment. It makes them uneasy and they may start worrying about how to return this generosity. They feel that just a small gift etc. leaves them more free and comfortable because there is not as much of an obligation. Large gifts may easily be interpreted as some kind of bribery or unfair treatment to others.
  • Wait until you have established a relationship with your Dutch contacts before presenting them with gifts.
  • Any gift should be of good quality but not obviously expensive. Modest gifts are usually the safest choices. Expensive gifts make people embarrassed and might even be seen as bribery.
  • If you are invited to dinner at a Dutch home, it's recommended that you bring a bouquet of flowers or potted plant for the hostess. Another option is to send a bouquet or potted plant the following day.
  • If you give a gift of wine, your hosts will be interested and thankful, but may leave the wine unopened, thinking it does not match this evening's food, or has been shaken on the way to the gathering. Since wine collecting is popular here among the well-to-do, do not give a gift of wine unless you are certain that you can make an appropriate selection for the recipient.
  • Bringing a gift of chocolate or candy is often appreciated when you are invited to a Dutch home, especially if there are children around. 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. Belgian chocolate is highly appreciated.

Appreciated Gifts

  • books about your home country or city, imported liquor, desk accessories, quality pens, pocket calculators [only of designer quality], electronic gadgets [only of designer quality].

*Vossestein, Jacob.  Netherlands Business Etiquette - Gift Giving.  Executive Planet.  09 Aug. 2004  <>.

Above:  The flag of Netherlands











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