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I have two kindergarden age children and the acquaintances are parents of the other children. I frequently meet them on the playground and there is friendly chatter. People talk about life and their jobs, so approximate financial backgrounds are known and vary widely.

My wife and I both have fairly well paying jobs and they are not affected by Corona, so there is a good amount of money left over at the end of every month which goes into some saving accounts. Not everyone is so fortunate and I would like to help out some of those who are not.

There are a few parents where one or two hundred Euros extra would be quite helpful and giving that away wouldn't change anything for me financially. I don't care whether it is cash directly or I buy something or we buy something for them together and I pay. I don't want anything back from them. I don't want to tell everyone about my gift giving either.

I don't know how to approach someone with an offer like that. I fear it is going to be very awkward. I don't want to harm any of my relationships with the other parents or appear condescending.

An anecdote how any gifts close to real money are (to me) overvalued. Last fall there was a lantern festival with the kids. The kids had crafted lanterns. Various parents brought homebaked cakes and similar food. I bought small LED lamps to light the lanterns for around a dozen kids (about 25 Euros total). To me that was a good distribution and I valued the very tasty cakes more than my lights. Several other parents apparently thought the LED lamps where a much bigger contribution than the cakes, offered to pay for it and thanked me profusely.

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    Hi quarague! This reminded me of a similar question here: Avoiding condescension in gift giving. That question has a specific and practical gift in mind - would you be offering something like that (i.e. you know the parents need/want a particular thing) or make a more general offer to help?
    – Em C
    Apr 21 at 15:39
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I have only some limited experience with these kinds of situations (from both sides). What I experienced in those situations is:

  • This "I don't expect anything in return", as true as it may be, won't be how the receiving side usually feels in case of gifted money. It may work, where there's a deep existing friendship. But without that level of trust, people will feel vulnerable in this way when they accept the gift.
  • Buying a requested item without some "excuse" like birthdays won't be a big difference to money.
  • Giving an item that you already own is a different matter, as long as you you have a convincing (and hopefully true) story why you don't need it (any more). "Ten of those cost only 50 percent more than one, but I don't really need those ten."
  • Invitations to events might also be different. "Our holiday home is big enough, it's really no difference if you come, and we'd like the shared time." Or something smaller, you get the gist.
  • Some people might be more inclined to accept a gift from a more "anonymous" source. Maybe there is a parent's initiative that could organise a fund to take over (some of) the childcare cost of parents affected by corona (or otherwise in need)? You could then contribute to this fund. You will have to decide if this is applicable to your situation.(*)

(*) Background to this: I'm member of a choir that takes two group vacations each year (it really is more vacationing than rehearsals ...). We have some students as members and we have members who are accompanied by their kids. For both, we have special rates, that are essentially paid for by higher rates for other members. (And we will always have a special rate for anyone who needs it.) So, there are people giving and people accepting gifts, but its in a way "anonymized", which makes it easier to accept.

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