Top Tips for Celebrating Christmas in the Netherlands

Top Tips for Celebrating Christmas in the Netherlands

min read
December 14, 2021

Christmas is almost here, and we’re already noticing some universal and dutch-esque signs. The days are getting colder, there’s a forecast for snow along with the hope of an Elfstedentocht, the Christmas music of Mariah Carey and Michael Bublé are defrosting as we type, and there’s a wonderful aroma of Oliebollen in the air. Loved by many, and despised by The Grinch, there’s no escaping this magical season.

As you may already know, our Settly team has people who have relocated from all over this beautiful world and everyone celebrates Christmas in their own, unique way. But, what makes Christmas in The Netherlands so eventful? Well, there’s always something to do! (COVID regulations permitting, of course!). So, we spoke to some of our team members and have listed down their personal recommendations on celebrating Christmas here in the hope that it inspires you if you’re into trying something new!

Here they are!

Annemiek says: For me, Christmas = food! For us Dutchies, there’s something we like doing on Christmas when it comes for dinner, and it’s called Gourmet. It’s a hot plate that you place on the table allowing everyone to become their own chef!

Supermarkets are well prepared days in advance and you’ll find tiny versions of everything you can imagine for the gourmet; from tiny burgers, tiny pancakes, tiny steaks, you name it and they will have it! It’s the perfect choice for the indecisive cooks out there, as you don’t want to have to spend the entire day in the kitchen.

Marieke says: Having lived in warm countries for over a decade and spending Christmas on the beach, I had to adjust my mindset a bit! haha, but now,  I am fully loving the winter set-up in The Netherlands.

All the lights in the city make it very gezellig to walk around the city and grab a Glühwein along the way to stay warm. For those who have kids, I would also highly recommend The Amsterdam Winter Paradise!

Kamisha says: Oliebollen!! I would recommend trying Oliebollen. You know when the stands start popping up around town that Christmas is on its way.” Adding to that, there’s plenty of options to choose from, including our personal favourites, the nutella bol, rozijnbol, banaanbol, etc.

Lotte says: Do your grocery shopping early! There’s no whipped cream and butter on the shelves on the 24th!

Joann says: I know this might be a bit too early, but  if *fingers crossed* everything freezes over, I would recommend buying your own ice skates (Schaatsen) early on before the forecast hits and they’re all sold out! Even if you’re a total beginner, you’re going to get a serious feeling of missing out.

Earlier this year, when everything froze, it was truly a magical experience for a girl from the tropics to be on natural ice. You can also find plenty of indoor skating rinks (even near Castle Muiderslot) and live through that Netflix Christmas Rom-Com scene with some warme chocolademelk.

Ella says: This is gonna be my second Christmas here, and they’re both ’lockdown’ Christmases. So I feel I’ve not been able to have an authentic Amsterdam Christmas experience yet.

However, I did try to make the most of it last year and we had a really nice evening, walking through town, the Jordaan and 9 streets, picking up Glühwein at different takeout places, walking around the canals and looking at the Christmas lights. It was very beautiful to see Amsterdam lit up at night, just have to remember to wrap up warm! But, it’s a fun way to get festive - even in lockdown.

Another tip is of course is to fill up on as much oliebol as possible, cause you’ll miss them when they’re gone in January!

Image courtesy of iamsterdam

Kimo says: One of the things I love about winter in Amsterdam is the beautiful Light Festival Tour which you can take either on foot or on a boat. Every year they have a specific theme and lots of art installations, which are magnificent! We did it last year and if you’re a family with kids, it’s definitely a recommendation!

Olena says: Get yourself in a Christmas mood! For me the best way is to embrace the Christmas atmosphere! You can do that by visiting the Centrum and Museumplein area, the decorations and music from most of these will be magical. Another one of my favorite towns to go around Christmas is Landsmeer (near Amsterdam), the people from there put on a real effort in decorating their homes!

If you’re looking to add to your Christmas menu, try out Kerststol (a traditional Dutch Christmas bread). They sell it in almost every supermarket, and I can’t imagine my Christmas without it anymore. More than anything, keep your home-country traditions close as it will let you feel the warmth of your family and loved ones back home.

We’d love to hear how you’re planning to spend Christmas this year!

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