For starters, guests will be welcomed by the front door and have their coats taken, usually by a younger member of the family. They are then invited into the living room, garden area, or whichever room is chosen for the celebration. If they're the first ones to arrive, they will congratulate the host and hand over the gift or flowers they brought, and take place on the chairs that are strategically placed in a wide circle. As later guests arrive, they will do the same, but not before going around the circle, shaking everybody's hand, and congratulating them with the birthday of the host. This seems odd behavior, and unless you're born and raised doing it, you're not even aware of how weird it is. Seriously.
If the birthday host is considerate, he or she will wait with the first offering of refreshments until the circle has been completed, and the mayority of guests have arrived. The first round of refreshments will invariably be coffee or tea, and cake or pastries. If this is your first exposure to Dutch pastries, by all means avoid the tompoes and the Bossche bol! The late comers now have the inconvenience of a) shaking the hand of someone who is already trying to balance a cup of hot coffee and a plate of cake on their lap b) trying to find a place to sit c) possibly running out of cake or pastries to chose from.
After the first round of refreshments has been consumed, a second cup of coffee or tea will be offered. If there are no takers, the host will move on to the next round of food and beverage: bowls of potato chips, nuts, and other savory samples will be presented for snacking, and soda and alcoholic beverages will appear on the table. Much chatter and goodhearted ribbing of the host will ensue, and a good time will be had by all. After the second round, various people will call it a night. Junior, if still awake, will be asked to retrieve the coats and goodbyes will be said, but not before the mandatory handshaking around the circle has been completed.
Kaasvlinders, or cheese butterflies, are a traditional savory pastry that is served during the second refreshment tour. In case you don't have the opportunity to attend a typical Dutch birthday, or prefer to enjoy these snacks in the company of your own choosing, here's a recipe:
1 large sheet puff pastry
1 cup shredded sharp cheese
Ground black pepper
Dust the counter with a little bit of flour, and thaw the dough. Sprinkle the puff pastry with the shredded sharp cheese, and roll each end up, toward each other. Beat the egg, and brush the pastry dough where the rollups meet, so they'll stick together.
Cover or wrap with plastic film and set in the fridge for about thirty minutes, while the oven heats up to 375F. Remove the dough, and slice into half an inch pieces. Place each slice on its side, brush with the beaten egg, and sprinkle with some cheese (optional). Season with salt and pepper (just a dusting) and place the butterflies in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until puffy and golden. Cool on a rack.