How to present surprise gift to grandparents
December 21, 2012 6:01 AM   Subscribe

For Christmas, my family is endowing a college scholarship in my grandparents' name. My grandparents have no idea. How should we present this gift to them?

The endowment is a not-insignificant amount of money. My grandparents' children (my dad and aunt) and their grandchildren (my sister, cousins and me) will all contribute to the endowment, along with our spouses.

We're planning to frame and wrap the endowment certificate but beyond that, we'd like this to be a really special moment for them and us. In total, there will be ~20 people there to help give the gift, including both of their children and all their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and spouses.

A little background - My grandparents were both teachers and education has always been incredibly important to them. They met at this college and my dad, my aunt and some of my cousins got degrees there as well. In part because of their encouragement and support (both emotionally and financially), all the cousins are college educated and some of us have graduate degrees. Also, five family members now teach in some capacity.

My grandparents are incredibly warm, kind and generous people. They've always made a point to be there for the big (and not so big) moments in our lives. I could go on and on but, in short - they're amazing and we all love them so much.

They're also getting older (mid- to late-80s) and, although they're in great shape now, we've all started to think about their legacy. Of course they're leaving a huge, huge mark on their family but it'll mean a lot to them that a student will receive scholarship money in their name every year. We expect there may even be tears from my typically-stoic grandfather.

So, any ideas for how to present this to them? We'd like the giving of this gift to be more of an "event" than a "oh hey, here's this gift for you that was under the tree".
posted by pear to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Is there any way that you could all "take a walk" or "go for a ride" that happens to take you past the college in question, and then when they're on the steps or out front of one of their favorite buildings, or are in the midst of a warm happy reminsice about where they met, then you give it to them?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:05 AM on December 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

Could you edit together a video with your family and any former students of theirs talking about their past legacy, and then finish with talking about their future legacy and the endowment?
posted by bfranklin at 6:06 AM on December 21, 2012 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Given the short time until Christmas, it looks like you already have the outline of a nice ceremony in the story you wrote. My family set up something similar in my grandparents name. Your grandparents having that group of 20 around them and having someone give a speech based on your outline (with short callouts mentioning how everyone around them has been touched in this manner) will be an awesome moment. I would focus less on production elements, and realize how happy they will be surround by the people they love who are using that moment to focus on something they took a lifetime to build.
posted by cgk at 6:14 AM on December 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Commemorate the occasion with a professional family portrait. It's a lovely occasion, plus opportunities for all of you to be together are self-limiting.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:45 AM on December 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: To go with that family portrait, perhaps all alums in the family could wear school shirts or school colors? That would be lovely up on the wall as a follow up present.
posted by raccoon409 at 6:46 AM on December 21, 2012 [8 favorites]

I like cgk's suggestion, only I would add that each person should make their own comments about how your grandparents have touched their lives in an educational capacity. Tell everyone they get 2 sentences, so make them count. If anyone is not there in person, get them on Skype or speakerphone.
posted by OrangeDisk at 6:48 AM on December 21, 2012

This is a beautiful gift. I'm going to 3rd the get everyone to say something quickly, the 2 sentences constraint is really nice.

Cheesy, but you could all don mortar boards too.
posted by DigDoug at 6:56 AM on December 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

At the university where I used to work, we gave chair endowers actual chairs (old fashioned oak rocking chairs, to be exact). A little engraved plaque went at the top, with the name of the award. Perhaps you could do this, put a bow on it, set by the tree, and while they are trying to figure out why you gave them a rocking chair, give your speech which you outlined above.
posted by topophilia at 7:31 AM on December 21, 2012 [5 favorites]

I like the chair idea; most of the schools and colleges I've been at have offered those for sale with the crests engraved in them. I would also vote for a large portrait of the college, framed and matted, with a little plaque under it.
posted by jetlagaddict at 8:45 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Could everyone who has graduated step away for a moment or two to don cap & gown, then proceed out with the wrapped certificate (and, possibly, a chair), delivering the speech(es) just before handing them the certificate (after, perhaps, asking one to take a seat in the chair)?

Because that would be quite dramatic.
posted by batmonkey at 10:38 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

So the chair imagery is really for people who endow "chairs" to the university, or professorships.

I don't think it really fits as-is in this case.

What you're really doing is endowing a "student" to the university.

How about giving them a desk?
posted by Precision at 12:30 PM on December 21, 2012

Best answer: Don't talk at them, listen to them. Get them talking about scholarships. Then break the news.
posted by Idcoytco at 8:04 AM on December 22, 2012

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