Culture, Netherlands, School, Sinterklaas

The Sinterklaas School ‘Surprise’

This year, for the first time, the Sinterklaas ‘surprise‘ has made an appearance in our home. My eldest is in group 5 which means he gets to make (and also receive) a surprise for (and from) a classmate.

It’s simple. He buys a present up to the value of €5 and then hides it in a surprise that he makes based on what his classmate has written as their hobbies and interests. So if his classmate has written she loves singing he makes a microphone out of toilet rolls and sticky back plastic. That sort of thing.

So far, so good right? Except that asking an eight year old to build, make or create something from scratch based on a few words (some of which his parents can’t even read, let alone my son) is a tall order. There’s been a lot of sighing, huffing and puffing and mutterings of, “ik weet het niet”. And this is year one, with only one child doing surprises.

You can imagine how excited I am at the thought of future years when I have three sons huffing, puffing and declaring they have no idea where to begin.

Imagine my further dismay when I read Ashleigh’s story on Amsterdam Mamas. Then it suddenly dawned on me that I have seen the upper school’s class display’s of Sinterklaas surprises in previous years. And they are not shoddy. A lot of effort goes into them. A lot of effort from people I am sure are well beyond the age of eight years old. (See my Sinterklaas Pinterest board to see what I mean!)

Remind me to clear the family calendar for two weeks before pakjesavond in future years…. I’m off to raid our recycling bins……

I would love to hear tips, advice and stories from you. Especially from you experienced Dutch parents! What’s the golden tip for dealing with this ‘surprise’ thing?

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