Pakjesavond with young children in the house is very different to a pakjesavond with older children or adults around. With a six, three and two year old in house I'll share what our pakjesavond looks like.
|A 'pizzarette' |
We spend the rest of the evening opening presents and playing with new things until little ones are rubbing their eyes and complaining of stomach ache and it is clearly time for bed.
So here's a summary of what you need for a pakjesavond with small children:
2. A sack – to put all the presents in
3. A knowledge of Sinterklaasliedjes (songs) – for the children to sing to encourage St. Nicholas and his entourage to visit their house
4. A friendly neighbour or a fast moving parent (or you can even hire a Sinterklaas or Piet) – to play Sint's helper Piet
5. A door or a door bell– for Sint’s helper to knock on/ ring
6. A black glove – for Piet to wear on the hand that will appear through the door
7. Pepernoten, kruidnoten and other sweets designed to give any child a sugar injection – for Piet to throw through a crack in the door with his gloved hand
|Traditional Dutch Sinterklaas biscuits - kruidnoten|
If the children are older, or the company is entirely made up of adults the evening looks very different. It works a little more like Secret Santa so everyone is responsible for the present of one person. The present is then a small gift, a surprise, which is hidden in something homemade, instead of simply being wrapped.
It can be as elaborate as you can imagine, or as simple as you can make it. An example is this ski piste (see link) with a present firmly encased in the middle, needing a lot of force to get the present out. Or a disco ball perhaps.
School children are usually assigned to make them for each other in the higher groups of primary school - the more creative the better, and the more difficult it is to get the present out the funnier.
There is often an accompanying rhyme or poem written by the gift givers, joke presents and a game to accompany the gift giving which involves rolling a die. Instructions include things like swapping presents with your neighbour (hence the chance to end up with the joke present that no one wants) or performing a task if you throw a certain number. The games are as creative and as varied as you want to make them!
The essential element of pakjesavond, the thing that holds it together, just like Christmas, is the company you spend the evening with. It is about being together, having fun and sharing each other's company. It's about family and friends, however you celebrate it. Happy birthday St Nicholas!