How To Identify A Dutch Circle Party

Anyone who has lived in Holland long enough has been invited to the dreaded ‘Dutch Circle Party’. But what about the people who have hosted one themselves? Sometimes they are unaware that they are throwing a Dutch circle party or maybe they actively trying to avoid their party turning into one. Either way, here are some of the warning signs to look out for.

1) Are there chairs?
This should be your first warning sign. Even if you have not arranged the chairs in to a circle yourself your Dutch guests will slowly re-arrange them into the ‘optimal party seating arrangement’ as they arrive (it is part of their natural instinct).

A simple solution for this problem is to hide all available seating. However, be warned, Dutch guests have been known to re-arrange any furniture they can find which can be sat on and/or lean on in order to form their own circle.

2) Are there drinks?
Tea does not count. If guests start turning down tea because they have reached their limit your party most likely turned into a circle party sometime ago (between the 2nd and 3rd cup). If you have been serving slices of cake with the tea the problem is even more serious.

Don’t be fooled by a small presents of alcohol at your party. Two guys using the opportunity to drink beer responsibly while their wives are distracted by someone else’s baby does not a wild party make.

Spiking everyone’s tea will soon liven up your party.

3) Is there music?
At a circle party there is often a lack of music so guests can hear each other ‘talk’. If there is music it is often very quiet or worse… Dutch.

Turn on some loud music to drown out the sound of guests talking about their mortgages.

4) Is everyone congratulating each other?
If guests start congratulating each other for your achievement (as if they are saying, “Well done for putting up with him for another year”) then your party could be a circle party (or simply very Dutch).

The best solution for this problem is to be as attention grabbing as possible and remind everyone that it is your day and it is you and only you they should be congratulating (However, this may lead to a real feeling of “Do we have to put up with him for another year?”). Plan a suitable entrance and party attire.

5) Are their guests from three generations?
If someone’s grandmother is chatting with someone’s two year old second cousin something went wrong with the party invites. It’s too late to do anything about it unless you hire a bouncer.

Still not sure if your party is a Dutch Circle Party? Then why not print out this handy flow chart?
Dutch Circle Party Chart
Find out more about Dutch Circle Parties by checking out these posts:
The Original Circle Party Guide
How To Identify a Circle Party
Circle Party Closed Loop Theory

19 responses to “How To Identify A Dutch Circle Party”

  1. Jules says:

    LOL! Completely true. Though the devolution from circle party to party! is also interesting, and starts at precisely 16.00, when the beer comes out :-)

  2. Invader Stu says:

    Jules – That is true. Sometimes a circle party can be saved and turned into a real party.

    Dave2 – Of course not. With so many of us coming from different parts of the world the Dutch to expat/visitor ratio will be below 50% :p

  3. Dave2 says:

    I assure you that Bitchsterdam is NOT a Circle Party.

  4. CW says:

    Does the host play his CDs in alphabetical order, and is the average age of the guests 80 and up?

    And most importantly: is the host running ragged serving everybody instead of announcing, “There’s the fridge, there’s the food, help yourself”?

    Circle party!! AUGH!!!

  5. Alison says:

    Three+ years and I’ve still not attended a circle party, even though I’ve been to parties where the boyfriend and I were the only foreigners. I’m obviously not hanging out with the right kind of Dutch people. ;)

  6. Invader Stu says:

    CW – There is no average age at a circle party. the one’s I’ve been to it can be anything between 1 month and 70 years.

    Alison – One day Alsion, one day :p

  7. French Bean says:

    Luckily for me, I live in an area which is heavily-populated by Spanish-speakers who wouldn’t *dream* of spending their evening sitting down in a circle to drink tea and listen to Dutch music.


  8. Marjolein says:

    Noooo!! It’s not fair! I’m very Dutch so I’m doomed to have circle parties for the rest of my life :(
    Help me!!!

  9. Keith says:

    I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that you are, now I’m convinced that you are.

    I can give you the phone number of a very good trickcyclist. He cured me, and now I am perfectly sane, and I’ve got some chocolate money to prove it!

  10. Melissa says:

    Ahhh… I don’t miss those!! I use to hide in the kitchen to avoid the circle of death. I would make sure to keep cleaning that one spot on the counter, just so I wouldn’t have to sit there.

  11. kerryanne says:

    Love it.

  12. Yvette says:

    Haven’t been to one yet, but Dutch circle parties are one of those things that my work colleagues say “have you been to one? oh, well we’ll keep it a surprise so you can find out what they’re like for yourself.”

    They also won’t tell me details about the office Christmas party citing a similar explanation, so there might be a connection now that I think about it.

  13. AstridQK says:

    Yep, I’am embarressed right now. My birthday parties are circle parties :-( and yes the age ranges from 9 til 86.
    However booze as well as tea and cake (by the way) are readily available from the get go and it is never dull as far as I know (maybe I’am in denial).
    Maybe we dutch need to shake things up a bit more, whoot whoot!!!

  14. Invader Stu says:

    French Bean – Remind me to invite the Spanish to the next circle party I go to so they can liven things up.

    Keith – What if the chocolate money melts in the sea? The we will be up the flower bed with out a Christmas card.

    Marjolein – Have you tried being slightly less Dutch?

    Melissa – Sounds like you were the Lady Macbeth of circle parties. “Out dam spot”

    kerryanne & Johnny Simpson – Thank you

    Yvette – Christmas circle party? One can only think of the horrors and shudder.

    AstridQK – It sounds like you could be well on your way to solving some of the circle party problems.

  15. MissNeriss says:

    Gold. Absolute gold. Somehow all the parties I go to turn into circle parties, and there are only ever a couple of Dutchies in attendance. There’s obviously a problem somewhere…

  16. Invader Stu says:

    MissNeriss – Thank you. I’m starting to believe that even if there are no Dutch people attending as long as the party is with in Dutch boarders it will turn into a circle party.

  17. CW says:

    My SIL tried to have a “real” birthday party once. Said “there’s the food; you know where the fridge is, help yourself” and scattered the chairs all over the room so no one would be in a circle.

    Her BIL was totally insulted that he wouldn’t be waited on hand and foot, and everybody moved their chairs into a circle. SIL gave up…

    The demographic of the circle parties I’ve been to have been pretty old hence my age comment…Dutchie’s family is just starting to have kids. Although our family and friends try to break the pattern, it’s the old-timers that are especially resistant. They end up having two parties, one circle for the old folks and a “real” party at night for the rest of us…

  18. Windmilltales says:

    Fantastic !! I might even hang this up at my next party!

  19. Scandinavian says:

    At my work we do have Christmas circle parties. Everyone brings their, wifes, husbands, babies etc. and then it is paty time!!.
    Office Christmas parties in Scandinavia is the party of the year, and can at times go a bit out of control. So the first year I was here and we were going to have the christmas party I did really look forward to have some fun with my new colleagues. I was wondering a bit why the party where taking place in a remote village and why no one were concerned about organising taxis or similar, but assumed that there probably where some sort of plan. When I arrived I found out I was the only one who had dressed up, every one else where in their normal work clothes. The chairs were organised in pairs for the couples with some space between each pair forming a perfect circle. Everyone did now find a place with their partners, as the only single I did then get two chairs for myself, babies were placed in the middle of the circle. Only food were salad, no music and conversations were restricted to quiet comments between the couples about the babies. This was also the day I learned the Dutch party rule nr 1. 1 beer pr. person pr party. No wonder that there is not much excitment here about the christmas parties. But happily we do also have a decent expat community, that organise our own no dutch allowed christmas party.

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