From local crafts and specialty foods, to traditional pastimes, the best gifts to bring home from the Netherlands are those that pertain specifically to Dutch culture. These gifts cannot be found anywhere else, and will hold special meaning to anyone that receives one.
Cultural Dutch Symbols
Delftware is a type of pottery made around the Dutch town of Delft. It is typically blue and white, and may come in many forms including plates, ornaments, and tiles. It has recently become much more popular as a souvenir item than it is among the Dutch themselves, but it is nonetheless symbolic of Dutch culture. Often windmills are depicted on delftware. Imitation delftware, imported and made of plastic, gives the general idea but cannot quite substitute for the real thing. Generally, fake delftware will be unmarked, while genuine items will be signed and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. Unfortunately, another major indicator of authenticity is a higher price.
Gifts for the Taste Buds
There are many delicious and fairly transportable food items native to the Netherlands that would also make excellent gifts. Several Dutch chocolate brands are well known for their quality, such as Verkade (which also makes biscuits) and Droste. Cheese from the Netherlands, such as Gouda, is also a very popular gift. There are many varieties available, and any can be tasted upon request. Usually you can have them sealed airtight for free as well. Dutch licorice and teas are also very good and can be a great side gift.
Wooden clogs are synonymous with Dutch culture, and may be the most popular gift from the Netherlands. Referred to as klompen by the Dutch themselves, they can be bought as souvenirs or to be put to use for stomping around. Being made out of wood, they are surprisingly breathable, and much more comfortable than one might expect.
A Botanical Gift
Equally as representative of Dutch culture is the tulip. In fact, gardening in general tends to be prevalent in the Netherlands. Tulip bulbs can be ordered and shipped home from the Keukenhof Gardens for reasonable prices. Garden items tend to be less expensive in the Netherlands than in many other countries, including garden decorations in addition to a wide variety of types of plants.
Gifts From Around Town
Other great gifts from the Netherlands include silverware from Schoonhoven, crystal from Leerdam, and diamonds from Amsterdam. For an assortment of different types of merchandise, check out shopping centers such as The Barones, Magna Plaza, Kalvertoren Shopping Center, and Schiphol Plaza which are all great. Additionally, the Netherlands has some nice department stores, including Bijenkorf, HEMA, and Vroom & Dreessmann. The multitudes of local markets throughout the country also offer a good experience, with a variety of handmade goods and a mostly local crowd. In Amsterdam the flea market on Waterlooplein, in Rotterdam the market on Blaak, and markets throughout the Noord (northern area) are good to explore. Clothes, antiques, and much more can be found there. There are many smaller areas with a concentration of crafts stores, such as the village of De Rijp, which also has many interesting gift possibilities.
Store hours are generally 11:00am to 6:00pm on Mondays, 9:00am to 6:00pm on Tuesdays through Fridays, and 9:00am to 5:00pm on Saturdays. Only those in big city areas are open on Sundays, usually from 12:00pm to 5:00pm. Shopping malls are also open on Sundays, and many cities have one late night a week, usually Thursday or Friday.
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