powered by Holland at Home
Not had enough time to prepare a fun surprise for pakjesavond this year? Or perhaps you’ve received a last minute invitation from friends or neighbours? Pajkesavond is the climax of the Sinterklaas celebration – when everyone gets together to exchange presents, read out Sinterklaas poems and enjoy traditional Sinterklaas treats such as pepernoten (spiced biscuits), taai taai (gingerbread) and chocoladeletters (chocolate letters). Below are five festive ideas to ensure no one’s disappointed on pakjesavond, even if you have left everything until the eleventh hour!
1. Buy lots of small gifts
Even if most of the shops are already closed, there’s bound to be a local supermarket or petrol station where you can purchase an assortment of last minute gifts, such as a packet of sweets, a chocolate bar, a bag of crisps, a popular Dutch magazine, a pack of pens or a handy notebook. Granted, they might not be the most exciting presents in the world, but who doesn’t love a mountain of gifts to tear open on surpriseavond, no matter how inexpensive? And don’t forget to buy some colourful Sinterklaas wrapping paper and sellotape, so that you can wrap your parcels in style.
2. Surround a solitary gift with fake presents
They say that less is more – however, if you’ve purchased a particularly expensive Sinterklaas present for someone special and are concerned that it looks a little lost amongst the pile of gifts for others, then simply surround it with ‘fake’ presents. Take an empty jam jar, a worn out shoe, an old book or anything else that you were about to throw away, wrap lovingly in Sinterklaas paper and place strategically next to your main present.
3. Give a gift token
If you haven’t had the chance to shop around for the ideal present or if you don’t know the recipient well enough to pick the perfect gift, you can always fall back on a gift token. At least this way they get to choose something that they really like. You can give your gift token a personal touch by using some of the tips below.
4. Make your Sinterklaas surprise stand out
Some spend hours preparing a beautiful and unique Sinterklaas surprise. Yet, no matter how pressed you are for time, you can still make yours stand out from the crowd by employing a few simple tricks. Try packing your gifts in an oversized box (such as the box from a new flat screen TV for example), or wrap it in multiple layers of paper so that it takes hours to open. Alternatively, you can prepare a ‘messy’ surprise by stuffing a large box with old newspapers, stale bread, soil and other undesirable ingredients and hiding your gift (s) in between. Onlookers will find it most entertaining to watch a somewhat bemused recipient dig amongst the dirt in order to retrieve their real presents! Just remember to pick only dry ingredients (or to protect the presents with a plastic bag) otherwise you’ll risk spoiling the contents.
5. Write a memorable Sinterklaas poem
If you’re too busy for a last minute dash to the shops to find a suitable Sinterklaas surprise, consider creating a memorable Sinterklaasgedicht (Sinterklaas poem) instead. If you require help writing this, then read our article “Top 5 tips for writing your first Sinterklaas poem” for inspiration.
Enjoy a perfect pakjesavond full of unexpected surprise!
Prefer to read this article in Dutch? Then why not visit to our sister blog, heimwee.info, specifically intended for Dutch emigrants abroad?