team building based on King's Day Verita's Visit Holland

Team building based on King's Day - 3 tips

Put on your orange dress, drink some Oranjebitter and get ready to sing the national anthem.  The best way to bond is to celebrate a national holiday together. So, let's create that ultimate holiday feeling. Here are 3 tips team building based on King's Day in Holland.

National holiday to unite your team

Once upon a time there was a little princess called Wilhelmina. She lived in the Netherlands, a country that was extremely divided. People didn't want to do any activities together. Now, Wilhelmina celebrated her 5th birthday on August 31 1885. 'A great day for a national holiday', a newspaper thought. And so a new national holiday was born.  It was called Princess Day and became a huge success. The Dutch people united, the nation was one.

I know it is a bit too much to ask you to create your own national holiday. It is a good idea to look at national holidays though.  You can get inspiration on how to build & strengthen relationships . Let's have a look at King's Day!

old Dutch games King's Day teambuilding

Holiday feeling with old Dutch games: team building based on national celebration

The first tip for team building based on King's Day actually comes from Princess Day. In that time the holiday did not have the same dimension as nowadays. Focus was on strengthening relationships within your family & local community. That happened through games. Using these old Dutch games  for teambuilding is perfect as rules are simple, you don't have to use your brain a lot. They're just a fun activity to do together and a way to release any tension. Best part is also that you feel like you're getting a taste of Dutch culture. Add some orange clothes and an orange drink (Oranjebitter) and you feel like you're on holiday.

Why the royal birthday & flower parades in the Netherlands are connected

As the years went by princess Wilhelmina got older. In September 1898 she became Queen of the Netherlands and so Princess Day became Queen's Day.  Thanks to these two royal celebration; the birthday and the inauguration, the flower parades in the Netherlands became popular. Now, I let you think about it for a moment…Why is Wilhelmina’s birthday/ inauguration as Queen a good time for the flower parade? The answer is in the next blogpost.

other flower events in the Netherlands Verita's Visit HollandTeam building based on King's Day flower parade

Tip two on team building based on King's Day, is about these flower parades. Before WWII these flower processions were strongly connected to the royal family. Nowadays  the processions are used to underline the local identity & the small community feeling. Now this team building tip decorate your bike, car or other vehicle. Set some rules before you start this activity. One of these rules should be about how you combine local, regional aspects with national cultural elements. What is typical of your city? What is unique about your family or friends? When you do this group activity with your colleagues, you can also include the corporate culture and team culture in these game rules. For complete instructions & customisation of this teambuilding activity based on King's Day, contact me or book the We are one on King's Day game activity.

Team building based on King's DayBe like Dutch kids: sell what you love & they don't need

Another typical Dutch element of King's Day is the vrijmarkt, or garage sale/ flea market. This is one of the youngest traditions of the royal celebration. In the seventies, Beatrix was Queen. She is the mother of our present King Willem-Alexander and the granddaughter of Wilhelmina. She had married a German man and not everyone in the Netherlands  liked that.  Besides, you could again feel some tension building up in the Netherlands. The vrijmarkt already existed, but was not centrally organised. Here and there in the suburbs of Amsterdam and other Dutch cities these flea markets popped up. The idea was to bring these markets to the inner city centre, so the Dutch would get together in a central point. That worked!

How can you use this in a team building activity? The King's Day vrijmarkt is the ultimate way for kids to practise their entrepreneurship. So tip three in the team building based on King's Day is about negotiation skills. Try  to find some traditions or habits in your family, group of friends or team that you like, but others dislike. Imagine these habits are one of the items you sell on the vrijmarkt. You are attached to them, they see no value. How would you sell these, the Dutch way?

Liked these 3 ideas? Then contact me for the full We are one on King's Day teambuilding game.


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Gouda challenge corporate event

The city has become my second home. In the last months I’ve been here every week to dive into Dutch culture and diversity. I’ve found fun activities to add to the Gouda challenge corporate event. Today it’s time to make the final arrangements before the grand finale Mid-June.

Cheese boys, cart &  market Gouda tour groep reis Verita's Visit
Cheese boys, cart & market Gouda

Follow the Gouda cheese carts

I can hear the horses’ hooves on the cobblestones. The rhythm is similar to the beating of my heart. “Where is the Gouda cheese market?” A German couple asks me below the cheese guirlands in the shopping street. “The wheels of Gouda cheese are delivered to the market by horse and cart’, I say knowingly. “Follow the carts and you’ll get there”. There’s a tension in my voice. I need to be at the Gouda cheese market and I’m late.

Old Dutch crafts in Gouda

I’ve heard about the Gouda Cheese Awards through one of my new contacts. For the Gouda challenge corporate event I was looking for pretty specific things. Of course, Holland cheese & stroopwafels would be included. I also wanted to add some lesser known Gouda products to the team-building game. An internet search gave me a whole spectrum of options and I got real enthusiastic. Then I dove in deeper and found out that men and women still practicing old Dutch crafts in Gouda are hard to find. Either retired or deceased. With my focus so much on all things Gouda I swiped through my social media and there it was: the post of the Erasmus artwork.

Erasmus & Frau Antje

My new contact Ginetta happened to organise many activities around Erasmus and the Dutch crafts practiced in his days. She gave me loads of new leads. “I live for Gouda”, was her reaction when I thanked her for all the information. “You should come to the Gouda Cheese Awards. Frau Antje, the well known cheese girl, will be there together with a Dutch tv person. “

Copyright Sandra Zeilstra/ AD

Holland Cheese Valley by bike

So I came. Mainly because I wanted to meet my new contact. Things went slightly different. Very lastminute I became the tour guide for a bike ride with bloggers, journalists and travel writers on a presstrip to the Holland Cheese Valley. But that’s a different story altogether.

Gouda city challenge corporate event

I didn’t manage to meet Ginetta. Nor did I get to go to any of the other meetings I had planned today. All the preparations for the Gouda city challenge corporate event have been made though. I’ve got a chance to do the special cheese tasting and oh, it is such an unique experience! Sweet, soft, salty and grainy. I’m so excited for the Gouda team building event! Let the city game begin!

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Gouda team event Dutch culture & diversity

There’s more to Gouda than cheese and stroopwafels. For the Gouda team event I’m looking for a workshop or activity to include the three other typical Dutch products of this city. And that’s where I’m stuck.

Dutch crafts of lost times

My footsteps echo in the cobblestone alley between the 16th century St John church and the tilted medieval houses. This transports you to lost times. Lost times it is. Door closed, shutters down. The shop with the large sign saying ‘Gouda kaarsen’ now primarily sells antics. The last clay pipe maker retired. He shows the old Dutch craft once in a while in a former ceramics factory just outside the city. Gouda ceramics….yes, there is one workshop you can still visit. It’s not in the city centre though.


Start of Gouda diversity team event at train station

Gouda team event on Dutch culture

My search for typical Gouda ánd typical Dutch elements in the St John resulted in some great ideas for the customised group outing. Now I'm out in the streets looking for the three other typical Dutch products of Gouda: ceramics, candles and clay pipes.

It all started with the request for a Gouda team event on Dutch culture.  This corporate event is all about having fun and doing activities, instead of just a (self) guided city walk. And, it's a group activity for half a day, three hours more or less. Which, for my ideas, is extremely short. To add the very popular typical Dutch stroopwafels and original Gouda cheese there's going to be a stroopwafel baking session and a cheese tasting.  I'm especially looking forward to the tasting as this is not your mainstream cheese experience. Really curious what the participants think of it!

Artisanal workshops in the heart of Holland

It’s hard to picture Golden Age Gouda being full of workshops. Every second shop had some connection with Dutch crafts. Large factories outside of the city brought the production of Gouda ceramics and candles to another level. The small artisanal shops in Gouda’s historical centre went broke. The clay pipe industry simply went up in smoke with the invention of the cigar and later the cigarette. As the last craftsmen turn grey and there are no successors, the old Dutch crafts simply vanish.

Local Gouda festivals celebrating Dutch heritage

Or, is there still a spark of life? Gouda is proud of its candles, ceramics and clay pipes. On Ascension day a large ceramics festival is held on the market square. It’s not just Gouda craftsmen and -women who show ceramics is still alive and kicking, people from all around the world come show their pottery.

In December Gouda lights it candles in the Gouda by Candlelight event. The city hall lights up real Gouda candles and locals living on the market put their best candles on the windowseal.

And the clay pipes? There is a great Erasmus festival on his birthday in October. It’s a jolly and folly Saturday with all locals proudly showing the Dutch heritage. All Gouda products are put into the spotlight.

arts & crafts tour Gouda ambachten groep Verita's Visit events uitjes

Apart from the cheese and stroopwafels, clay pipes are the only elements of Dutch culture I will work with in the personalised Gouda team event in June. The Thursday market has a stall with ceramics and clay pipes. It looks o so fragile though, so I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to add an activity here. Maybe at the oldest tobacco shop in Gouda, which still has a great display of clay ánd wooden pipes...


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Typical Gouda in stained glass windows

There’s a lady with a white bun. Find her. She knows everything about the Gouda windows. I enter the St John church in search of typical Gouda in stained glass windows.

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It’s Wednesday morning. A few rays of sunlight found their way through the clouds and now shine on the red-white shutters of the Gouda city hall. While I spot a LEGO version of the church, a woman with white trousers and red jacket swirls her small group of tourists through the alley. I follow them to their, no, our destination.  As the group swarms into the St John, I stop at the counter.

Teambuilding typical Gouda in the stained glass windows

I make myself tall as the longest windows in the church (20m)  and say: “I’m organising a team building event on Dutch culture ánd diversity and want to include the stained-glass stories of the St John church. Can you tell me what the most typical Gouda in the stained glass windows is?”

Erasmus in Gouda

“How Gouda is presented, you mean”, the man behind the desk replies, while you see how he’s trying to formulate the perfect answer. The man clearly likes to think along: “John the baptist is the patron saint of the city Gouda. All through the city you see the colors red and white. Red for his suffering and white for purity. You can find the city’s coat of arms – red and white- in several of the Gouda windows. The glasses in the choir tell the story of John the Baptist’s life.”

 

The man puts his thumb and indicative finger on his chin and thinks out loud, nodding towards the most modern glass. “Of course this stained glass window is quite abstract, but it is representing the beliefs of Erasmus. The humanist was born in Gouda, his father was a priest in this church. If you really want to know what is typical Gouda in the Gouda glasses, look for the lady with the white bun. She’s a guide and can tell you all you want to know about the windows.

 Verita's Visit Leiden Gouda group tour groepsuitje
Leidens Ontzet - Relief of Leiden depicted in stained glass Gouda church

Gouda Glasses and Leiden team event

Every time I visit the St John, I run to one stained-glass window. That has to do with my passion for the Leidens Ontzet and the team event on Dutch culture I once organised in the city of Leiden.  The creation of this customised teambuilding activity has priority now. I enter the church and I immediately see ms Kraal, the lady with the white bun. She’s passionately explaining the story of one of the Gouda windows to a couple of visitors. The scene is so intimate I fear to intrude and break the serene atmosphere. My excitement to find the answer to my quest is far bigger though and in a stutter I begin my question:

“The man behind the counter told me you know everything about these stained glasses. What is typical Gouda in the stained glass windows?”

The Night Watch of the St John church

Ms Kraal looks over her glasses at me. “There nothing typical Gouda in the stained glass windows”, she replies. “But,” as she goes on after seeing my disappointment. “Many of the Gouda glasses have a connection with the biblical humanism, the teaching  of Erasmus. And Erasmus was an important figure for Gouda and for the Netherlands.” For her, window 15 is the Night watch of the St John church. She places her hand on an imaginary hand: “John the Baptist doesn’t baptise Jesus in the traditional way…”

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I try to listen to her, but find myself to eager to run to the stained glass window and see for myself. I say my thankyous and goodbyes and Ms Kraal gives me one more tip: window 7. This is not your ordinary presentation of the Last Supper. This is a real conversation. The focus is not on the dinner or the characters, but on the lively interaction between the characters. Ow, I’m excited to see for myself!

Humanism in thought bubbles & speech balloons

While the orgue plays a tune I recognise, but can not put a name on, I sit in front of window 15. 10 minutes, half an hour. I listen to the audioguide and see what Ms Kraal explained. John the Baptist doesn’t look at Jesus and baptises him. He looks up and listens to God. His words come down in a ray of light that runs down to the holy ghost. It’s the dove that represents him.

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I’ve fallen in love with window 16 before as that does have a typical Dutch  element: the landscape. The brothers Crabeth, who made this glass and 14 & 15 which together form a tryptich, used the countryside around Gouda for the landscape. Now that I see the full story of these 3 glasses, I know I have found the answer to my quest. I’ve found typical Gouda in the stained glass windows ánd typical Dutch elements. Now I only need to think of a creative assignment to include this in the team building event on Dutch culture and diversity....


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Half day team event Hague area

Pack your bags! You’re going on a trip to the Netherlands. The grand finale: a half day team event Hague area with your work team. After a couple of days of trainings and workshops in the company’s Dutch headquarter you and your international colleagues head out for adventure!

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Boat race corporate event Gouda area

Relaxing or active half day team event around The Hague

The global organisation you work for has given you carte blanche for a half day team event The Hague. It’s up to you and your team to decide if you want to do an active event or something relaxing. It could be a workshop Delft blue painting or a boat race on the Leiden lakes.

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Due to time differences it’s not easy to get your team members from US, UK, Europe and South Africa together in a meeting to discuss the subject of the trainings in the Dutch headquarter or the content of the company outing on the last day. So, emails go back and forth and you manage to set up a call  with some of the colleagues who have been in the team for a while now.

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These hardcore team-building event participants have quite some suggestions.  One of  them reminds you: “We’ve done a canal cruise in Leiden a few years ago and a cooking workshop in The Hague”. “The activity should definitely something fun. I don’t mind traveling outside of The Hague, see a different city” another colleague writes in a email. After a while yet another colleague adds:

“Indeed! See a bit of the area, would love it if we could incorporate some Dutch culture. Food would be great too.” 

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Fun group activity on Dutch food

Food does give an extra dimension to a group activity, you think. After having gathered all suggestions, you have an idea of what kind of half day team event Hague area could look like. After the trainings and workshops you don’t want to have to think too much. So, it should be a fun and relaxing outing. It should not take too long either. Some kind of tour in a historical city not far from The Hague to absorb the Dutch culture and maybe add something food-related.  Could you combine it with a local festival or typical Dutch event that already takes place?


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Team event Leiden

It was February when I received a request from the event manager of an international company. She was looking for a nice team event Leiden and had seen the Leidens Ontzet Treasure Hunt on the website of Verita's Visit Holland. Could I organise this group activity late March?

key to typical Dutch teambuilding outside Amsterdam Verita's Visit excursion corporate family I smiled while I was reading the inquiry for the group event Leiden. The Leidens Ontzet, Relief of Leiden is festival celebrated on the 3rd of October. There's a great vibe and it's quite easy to connect with the locals. To organise an event in spring around a winter festival would be quite a challenge. I soon discovered that all the venues the teams would pass on the 3rd of October were closed or being renovated. So, the  plans changed and I created  a completely different team building activity. Same style, same adventure, same mix of creative challenges  & intriguing questions, but with a different theme. Focus wasn't just on the Relief of Leiden, but on the history & culture of Leiden in general. Artists, monuments, symbols all played a part in this team event Leiden.

 

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I do love using my creativity and organising such a custom-made group activity. At the end the 25 young professionals from the international company based in Leiden area had a great time. Well, see for yourself.

 

 Thank you so much for your kind cooperation with the event! We had a blast! 

Event manager international company Leiden area

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ico0Pzu5W7g&t=23s