Meals, Clothing Code & Gifts

Business dress in the Netherlands is fairly conservative, but it depends upon the profession

In the financial industries, most businessmen wear dark suits, muted ties, and white shirts

Women typically dress in dark suits and white blouses. Expect to wear the same clothes when invited to dinner

Some professions allow very informal dress

Casual wear is essentially the same as in the North America. Shorts, however, are acceptable only when jogging or hiking

They feel that just a small gift leaves them more free and comfortable

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

They like neither giving nor receiving large gifts, great favours or other preferential treatment

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

Keep your hands on the table

If you can, avoid leaving anything on your plate

The Netherlands unlike its neighbour, Belgium, is not a country known for gastronomic excess

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

Bringing a gift of chocolate or candy is often appreciated when you are invited to a Dutch home

Although your Dutch counterpart may not be seeking to create deep social bonds, these occasions provide the opportunity to develop trust and find out more about the other side

The Dutch are more likely to invite business partners to a restaurant to mark a significant event, such as the closing of a deal

The probability of being invited to a private home is low

After-hours drinks are not appropriate for detailed discussions

When eating out at a restaurant, show that you are as democratic as the average Dutch person by treating the waiter with respect

Turn off your mobile phone

Quite a few executives save their ties and jackets for outside the office

Dressing up is permissible on appropriate occasions

A tuxedo for men and an evening gown for women may be expected for formal parties or dinners

Only the host picks up the wine list

Order the same number of courses as your Dutch colleagues

If you are invited to dine at your Dutch partner’s home be sure to arrive punctually

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