Throwing a Dutch Birthday Party: Step 1 The Invitations

by farrah on February 1, 2014 · 21 comments

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was getting ready to have B’s 5th birthday party in February. Here, Dutch birthday parties are a little different and a little bit more low-key. I bring the kids back to my house after a half day of school, we have a ‘feestje’ for about three hours and hooray! Happy kid. So anyhow, armed with this in mind and thinking no stress I barely got through step 1 of the party process: The Invitations.

Dutch birthday party invitesYep. Had to use Google Translate to fill them out.


Ok, so your kid is going to have a birthday party and in the back of your mind you might think worst case there will be a debate over the number of invitees. Maybe their class has a rule that everyone has to be invited-Β or what have you, so that makes it easy. You say to your almost 5-year-old: ‘Ok Billy. Who do you want to invite to your party?’ And maybe he rattles off names like

  • Carson
  • Theo
  • James
  • Brenden
  • Alex
  • etc.

You can spell these names, right? Well most of the time. Worst case scenario you email the teacher and ask her to send you a list of the kids in the class so that you spell ‘Jayme’ rather than ‘Jamie’. I really, really thought that this was going to be my biggest issue with the invite process, but au contraireΒ my friend! Our scenario went like this:

Me: B, who do you want to invite from your class?

B: dkfjghkdjfhg dkfjghkdfjgh dkfjghkdjfgh dkfgjhkdjfhg skjgfhskjgh and skdfgjskjgh.

Me: I’m sorry, what?

B: MO-OM. That’s who I want. At my party.

Realizing that the day had finally arrived when I had to admit to everyone that I don’t know how to write, read or pronounce his classmates’ names, I emailed his teacher asking for an updated list so that I could read him the names and we could figure it out from there.

That was a brilliant idea until I received the list of names and realized that I could not pronounce them correctly- thus my 5-year-old had no idea who I was talking about.

The names of students in B’s class are like this:

  • Bregje
  • Thijs
  • Nienke
  • Shuryjano
  • Joes (pronounced Youuse, hence the dilemma)
  • Date
  • etc.

So I tried, really I did. Some of the names on the list are easier than others, and it took about 30 minutes to clarify who people were and who we were inviting. Who knows, really, because by the end I kind of gave up and just invited who I thought I had heard of before.


Ok, so here’s the next step. I wasn’t feeling too sure how to hand out all of these invitations. We were inviting 15 kids and there are around 30 total in the class. In the US we are very sensitive to our kids excluding people from things like this- so when I went in to drop off B for school yesterday- I asked his teacher how to discreetly give them out. She told me that I could give them to all of the mamas and papas there right then- but alas, I wasn’t sure who they all were. She said no problem! I will do it. Confused, I handed her half the stack of invites and watched her give them out to the kids and the parents in the melee of morning chaos.

When she finished, she told me all was good and I handed her the rest. She looked at me, eyes wide- and said- ‘There’s more?!’ It became clear that we were not doing this in the typical Dutch way. Oh well. They all know I’m the American but never fault me for it.

So then I go outside with the twins and as we’re waving goodbye to B through the window a group of mothers comes up to me asking how many kids we invited to the party. I told them 15 and they all started laughing- FIFTEEN! They said. We only have about five or six usually!


I then had to reassure them that I have our Dutch babysitter, B’s Oma, myself, and my dear friend Ace (surprise Ace!) helping me get through this. They still thought this was all hysterical and laughed and laughed. Soon they brought out the invitations themselves and were asking me to clarify the date and my numbers- because believe it or not- NUMBERS look different handwritten in Dutch and they wanted to make sure of the correct address, date, etc. Also, was I really going to walk the 15 children home to my house??


So what are your predictions for this feestje? It’s the 26th. Send strength.



{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Grande Mocha February 1, 2014 at 4:30 pm

GOOD LUCK! Sounds like an adventure.


2 farrah February 1, 2014 at 7:20 pm

lol- parenting always is πŸ™‚


3 Chamisa February 1, 2014 at 4:48 pm

Ahhh this totally cracked me up! The birthday adventure is just beginning! Oh, and wow, those names sound oh so complicated to an American ear!


4 farrah February 1, 2014 at 7:21 pm

Ha- thanks Chamisa πŸ™‚ It really is funny in the long run, and just so different than what we’ve done before. B can say them perfectly- however, I can NOT!


5 Theresa February 1, 2014 at 6:33 pm

Oh good grief…the names! I mean, I’ve got a pretty good grip on Dutch after all these years but some of them still throw me for a loop.

Good luck woman, happy to hear you’ve got help on the way! πŸ˜‰


6 farrah February 1, 2014 at 7:22 pm

Ha! Thanks!

Sure you don’t wanna come???? πŸ™‚


7 andrea February 1, 2014 at 7:56 pm

15 5 year olds = chaos no matter what country you live in πŸ™‚ But awesomely fun chaos!! We are about to have my sons 6th birthday with 12 6 year old boys, so I am apparently crazy too!


8 farrah February 2, 2014 at 7:04 am

I totally agree! And hey, 3 hours? I can do 3 hours. Have fun- Feb. birthdays are hard- aren’t they? I feel like if it was summer I could say- let’s go to a park and y’all just run around πŸ™‚


9 Ann February 1, 2014 at 9:07 pm

W’s going to his first classmate birthday party and I’m stressing because the RSVP has to be called in – by tomorrow. I’ve been hoping to run into the mom at school, but she’s never there when I am. And I almost had the babysitter (who is half-German, half-American) RSVP for me. I don’t know what I’ll do when I’m in your shoes. At least I know and understand German names!

Lots of luck to you! πŸ™‚


10 farrah February 2, 2014 at 7:05 am

Can you text?? I totally have to ask one day if B could stay later at a party so A could pick him up late. I texted hhahaha!


11 Cynthia February 2, 2014 at 3:02 am

Oh my….I would not of even attempted to throw a party and would of instead tried to bribe. I am glad the other moms had a good laugh…but do they know something you don’t or should know? Is that why they are laughing? That would have me worried most of all. However, I think you will throw a great party! Plus all the extra help. You are going to NAIL THIS!


12 farrah February 2, 2014 at 7:06 am

Ha! B does not get the concept of a bribe. It’s this AND that since Grandma is usually here and we go somewhere. Lucky darned kid. Let’s see how long it lasts- or until his brothers catch on πŸ™‚


13 Jennifer F- American Mom in Bordeaux February 2, 2014 at 8:40 am

Fun adventures! and I thought learning how the “French” do things was challenging – but kudos to you for handling all of this in a language that you don’t know. In France, they also do low-key home parties and are also a bit smaller than in the States. There seems to be an acceptance that kids come in and hand out invitations and it’s okay if they don’t invite everyone…or too many – it’s just the way it is. Parties here seem to get bigger the older the kids…but still fairly low-key. I just survived 2 parties for a 13 & 10 year old during the past 2 weeks – will be writing posts on these shortly. Good luck to you – looking forward to hearing more.


14 farrah February 2, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Ha- yay! I’m looking forward to reading your wrap ups πŸ™‚ Here’s hoping having our sitter here helps. I should probably pay her double, eh?


15 Sandra February 2, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Oh man, I had to laugh reading this, you’re such a good mama! I don’t know if I’d had it in me to coordinate something like this given all the cultural challenges. I likely would have taken the easy way out and said we’re doing family festivities only πŸ™‚

You’re rocking this birthday thing! I can’t wait to hear how it unfolds, I’m sure it’s going to be fantastic. And imagine how much the kids will love such a big party since that’s not what they usually get.


16 farrah February 2, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Sandra- that’s actually a really nice way to think about it! They’re not used to them so big so maybe they’ll be EXTRA crazy! Hahah! Oh not what I need.


17 Sandra February 2, 2014 at 1:47 pm

PS: I’m going through something similar with handing out Valentine’s cards to my two year old’s classmates. This is my first experience with that and the names thing is definitely tricky. I wasn’t sure if it was weird to ask her teachers for a list of the kids’ first names so that I get them all right. I take it that that’s done since you said you did that in the US before.


18 farrah February 2, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Thankfully I do not think there is any hullabaloo with Valentine’s Day here at all. I can’t even remember last year. But oh yeah- asking for the list of names should be fine! I did the first year at B’s preK and had no issues πŸ™‚


19 Mrs. Chasing the Donkey February 10, 2014 at 9:09 pm

That’s a lotta kids! And I do hope that dkfjghkdjfhg dkfjghkdfjgh dkfjghkdjfgh dkfgjhkdjfhg skjgfhskjgh and skdfgjskjgh has a rip roaring time. I take it you wont be making personalised party bags????


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