Surviving Pakjesavond


Pakjesavond. 11:47pm. Friesland.

As I was handed the mysterious and brightly wrapped Sinterklaas gift I knew something was up. The giggling and sniggers my family-in-law were unsuccessfully trying to contain were a dead giveaway. I opened the poem (which as it turned out was not a poem) attached to the gift and started to read it aloud as is the custom.

“Hello everybody. My name is Stuart.”

I instantly felt nervous. It is never a good sign when you are being forced to address a group of people on behalf of yourself without actually knowing what it is you are about to say, especially on Pakjesavond.

“When I was a young boy I went to the scouts in London. They taught me over there how to survive, making campfires and a lot of other funny things. That all might help me in the rest of my life they told me. So after that I knew that there is some basic stuff you always have to carry with you to let it be easier to survive.”

I read it word for word (including Dutch-isms), only adding the occasional “oh no” and “where is this going?” of my own.

“So now it was time for me to prove my skills to the rest of the world, I packed my trousers, shorts, socks, flashlight and a toothbrush and some other stuff and I moved to Holland. I didn’t forgot anything.”

“Till this far everything was going very well…”

Till this far the story had not been as embarrassing as I had initially feared but I knew that with a line like “till this far” that was soon to change.

“I know that when people are getting older they start forget things, it’s just the way of nature. .. but what can happen me… I’m a scout and I know how to use nature in my advantage. So probably that rule will not be written for me…”

“And then it all started to go wrong….”

I paused. “Then it all started to go wrong,” is the only sentence worse than, “till this far.”

“In the last years something happen to me, I started to forgot a lot of things, I forgot to get out the train on the right station, my toothbrush when I went to my family-in-law…. and that happened more than once….Also my pyjama l left at home… socks… and a lot of other things l didn’t tell them.”

It is true. I regularly forget to pack toothbrushes and other such things whenever we visit my family-in-law. In fact it has happened so often that I had decided it was best to stop telling them about it after the Pakjesavond when I received a life time supply of toothbrushes. In fact, the last time I had forgotten my toothbrush I decided to brushed my teeth with my finger instead and told no one but my wife… she had obviously betrayed me.

“I think it all started when I met my wife Simone, she took a place in my brains and my mind and my skills learned by the scouts where moved to the background.”

No use trying to sweet talk her out of it now. I know she told you all about the finger-brushing.

“Her family already tried to help me a few years ago with a lot of toothbrushes…”

The for mentioned incident.

“…but please Sinterklaas… Could you help me this year!!”

“Well Stuart, I already noticed your problem and send out my scout-Piet and let him made a present to solve all your problems… but remember it will be the last time that Sinterklaas will help you… otherwise next year you go into the bag with us to Spain.”


I still didn’t really know what to expect as I finished reading. I just hoped it was not another life time supply of dentil hygiene implements. After all this build up what could it possibly be.

Nervously I opened the gift and discovered…

Pakjesavond Gift 1

That was not all either.

Pakjesavond Gift 2

Inside there was a collection of individually wrapped small gifts which included; a supply of toothbrushes, tiny shower products, two plasters, a pair of socks which I did not recognize as my own at first, a t-shirt, a pair of pajamas and a pair of underwear which I did most definitely recognize as my own and thought might have been items that I had accidently left behind during past visits but as it turns out were actually nicked by my wife the weekend before… some matches, a camouflage torch, a mars bar and some chocolate coins, some string, a travel board game and a Donald Duck bubble.

Next year I will plan my revenge well…

(I actually could not stop laughing during the whole reading and as I opened each individually wrapped ‘survival item’. It was brilliant. They got me good and it was such a cool gift.)


Looking for more? Find a full list of all humorous sinterklaas guides and posts right here:
All About Sinterklaas

21 responses to “Surviving Pakjesavond”

  1. iooryz says:

    ah, you got of easy. This year we had a scavengerhunt through the house, a bathtub with black water and all sealed presents, a present in a bucket with chocolate pudding (she had to eat through it) and a burried present in the garden.

  2. Invader Stu says:

    iooryz – Dear god. Did you celebrate Sinterklaas with Jigsaw from the Saw movies? :p

  3. Yvette says:

    Your in-laws sound rather awesome honestly. :D

    I went to my first Sinterklaas party on Friday organized by friends in the astronomy department… though if you can imagine 20 people who are far too clever for their own good getting together to do Sinterklaas you can get an idea of how that went down. I got out of it not badly though with a personalized popup book and a suspicion of which guy has a crush on me… and my 6 page epic poem where the fellow had to pull a sword out of a stone to rescue his adviser was well received.

    Now just need to figure out who did what!!!

  4. Invader Stu says:

    Yvette – They are indeed.

    It sounds like you had a very good Sinterklaas party to me :)

  5. Alison says:

    What a brilliant gift! But only two plasters? I myself have gone through that many just this week, and I’m not as accident-prone as you seem to be. Perhaps Sint should have thrown in the whole box. ;)

  6. Invader Stu says:

    Alison – Good point. I think I’ll need several boxes… and that might only last me till the end of the day.

  7. What, no sandwiches? I mean, gold (chocolate) coins can surely buy a couple of sandwiches for those long journeys via train!

    (And that is such a cool gift!)

  8. AstridQK says:


    HAhahahahahahahahahahaha again sorry

    Hahahahahahaha o shit peed my pants

  9. Invader Stu says:

    Barb – There was a Mars bar… that’s kind of a caramel sandwich of chocolate right?

    AstridQK – Remind me to be careful with my jokes around you :p

  10. I suppose that it is…

  11. Dragonlady says:

    Who made the bag? Its Brilliant.Though I dread to think what the blanked out word was.

  12. Anita says:

    This is so sweet !!! A really customized cadeautje (or “kadotje” ?) from Sinterklaas to Stuart B….

  13. Invader Stu says:

    Anita – I’m very lucky :)

    Dragonlady – Simone’s mum made the bag and her brother added the image. The blanked out text is just my full name… you know… what with being in witness protection and all :p

  14. Dragonlady says:

    It seems your in law family is as tallented as you are.

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  16. Dave2 says:

    No iPhone? Because the one thing I would forget that I can’t live without is my iPhone.

  17. Invader Stu says:

    Tokyo Five – I think the auto spam filter was being over diligent.

    Dave2 – It would seem that some method of calling for help would be useful.

  18. Inge says:

    This was such a nice read :) Such thoughtful presents!

  19. Heather says:

    Love it!!

  20. VallyP says:

    Brilliant, Stu. That was such a Simone thing to do :) Great famil-in-lay you have!

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