Norwegians do not usually have the habit of having a few drinks after work. Instead, many of them leave their drinking to the weekend.
Norwegians usually start the evenings with a vorspiel, aka pre-party. This can start from 1900 and last till 2300 or midnight, where the partygoers then start to head to town. During the vorspiel, people chat, socialise and drink. Norwegians do tend to loosen up a little after a couple of drinks (but after all, who doesn’t?), and speaking English becomes easier for those who are a little reserved. It is normal for everyone to bring their own alcohol to house parties (alcohol is unfortunately way too expensive for hosts to provide for everyone). The hosts may or may not provide light snacks and finger food.
In town, the fun and drinking continue, together with some dancing and maybe a little flirting. Partying can go on into the wee hours of the morning. I have discovered that even though you go to town with a big group of people, you can just leave anytime you wish to without letting your friends know. Everyone just assumes that you’ve gone home if they cannot find you. So be sure to let a friend in your group know if you are just heading to the bathroom. You might not find your friends after your trip to the loo – mobile phones may be in coat pockets, far away from their owners, or your friends may be too drunk to notice their phones are ringing.
After the partying in town, some people may continue with after-parties – usually more drinking or for others, a winding down session. Others might head for a quick snack before heading home.
Going Home after Parties
Do not attempt to drive home if you have been drinking. The alcohol limit here is very low (BAC 0.02% or 0.2 g/kg) and there are stiff penalties for driving while intoxicated. There are no exceptions for ‘ignorant’ foreigners. Police checks are frequent and they pop up in the most unexpected places.
Taxis are abundant in the city area – ladies, do be careful and try not to take taxis home alone. Walking home from the city may seem like a good idea, both to save money and to get some fresh air after all that alcohol, but be sure that you’re not walking home alone . Guys are usually very gentlemanly and will walk the ladies home or share taxis with them and drop them off (I’m talking about guy friends whom you know from before, not those you might have just met in town). However, it might be nice to offer to pay your share of the taxi fare as the taxis do not come cheap here.
Another thing to note, some of the taxi drivers speak neither Norwegian nor English so do have your address written down somewhere (especially if it’s a hard one to pronounce) so the taxi driver can key it in to his GPS. Attempting to give directions can be frustrating and fruitless, especially if you have had a bit to drink.
There are night buses which ply certain routes so be sure to check if your home is along one of these routes.
Sundays are usually hangover-recovery days, where people stay in and get over their headaches and nausea. However, there are many who make it a point to do something outdoorsy on Sundays – hiking, kayaking, BBQ-ing, etc in spite of how they feel.
Also, Sundays are good brunch days with friends. Many restaurants around town offer buffets at reasonable prices so why not gather a group of your friends to enjoy a meal together?
Family time is a top priority in Norway and families usually make it a point to do something together on Sundays.
Invitation to a Norwegian’s Home
If you get invited to a Norwegian’s home, do be there on time and confirm the dress code with your host. In some cultures, it is socially acceptable to be an hour or two late but here in Norway, it is always polite to be on time or at least let your host know that you will be late. If you are invited to a dinner party, your host will always appreciate if you turn up with a small gift (a bottle of wine, chocolates, a cake, flowers, a potted plant, etc). Note that gifts here are opened when received.
It is common practice to remove your shoes when you enter someone’s home in Norway. Homeowners do not want dirt and mud to be tracked into their homes, especially on wet and snowy days. It is usually fine to take a pair of indoor shoes to change into. If in doubt, do ask your host.
Most food, even sandwiches, are eaten with utensils. Be sure not to discuss business over dinner unless your host begins. Norwegians separate their business and personal lives.
Anyone can toast anyone and it is usual to thank the host at the end of the meal saying ‘ Takk for maten‘ (Thanks for the food).
When leaving your host’s home, it is normal to say ‘Takk for oss‘ (Thanks for having us) or ‘Takk for meg’ (Thanks for having me).
Hosting Dinner Parties
It is only polite to reciprocate any invitation you have received. Depending on your culture, a dinner party which starts at 1900 may mean just that, food is served at 1900. However, in some cultures, a dinner party starting at 1900 means drinks and snacks and chit chat for 2 hours. Dinner may not be served til 2100. So be sure to let your guests know how you do it. This can help to prevent overly hungry guests or guests who are too full to eat any of the fine spread you prepared.
Disclaimer: Do note that everyone is different. The above is just general information and observations gathered from different sources.