Time flies. If it sounds like a tired old cliche, it’s only because it’s tried and true. It seems like just yesterday that you dropped your kid off for their first day of kindergarten. Now, here you are, preparing to watch them achieve a major educational goal.

Your child’s graduation is not just another feather in your parenting cap. It is a milestone that deserves recognition and celebration. While they may be long past Ninja Turtle-themed parties and Disney princess-inspired sleepovers, all hope is not lost. Actually, it is quite the opposite.

The key thing to remember when planning to celebrate your child’s graduation is that you are welcoming them into adulthood. Whether you choose to go all-out or keep it simple, honor their passage over the threshold into adulthood with style and grace.

Keep it simple

At this stage of your son or daughter’s life, they have developed a personality that is (almost) all their own. If they are more reserved and prefer small gatherings to crowded parties, then you don’t want to force a huge graduation party on them.

They may prefer a nice evening out with the family or a few friends, or they may prefer a huge blowout of a celebration. If you do decide on a night out, make it a sophisticated one. Have dinner at a top-notch seafood restaurant or an elegant French bistro. Dinner also provides an excellent opportunity to get a better idea of what your son or daughter pictures for their future. Start the conversation about what their next steps in life will be like.

Sure, you know what school they are going to attend or even what career path they’ve chosen if they’ve chosen to enter straight into the workforce. However, this may be one of your last chances to do a little prodding and get a deeper insight into their desires and expectations before they take the plunge. While gaining insight into their ideas about adulthood, you can impart your own wisdom about life as a grown-up.

Go all out

If you have a bit of a wild child, by now you also know that it doesn’t mean that you have a bad child. It just means that you had the privilege of raising an adventurer. If this describes your graduate to be, congratulations, you have some party planning to do!

While you may not be able to hide the actual party from them, make as many elements of it a surprise as possible. Rent out a local building, hire a DJ, and have your children and their friends wear formal attire like their graduation dresses and suits. Enable them to have one last night of care free fun before tackling the real world.

Great gifts

There are also gifts that are a great way to say welcome to the real world. Plus, if you still love the look of wonder that permeates their face when they are surprised, this is an opportunity to steal glimpses of that wonderment again. If you really want to both surprise them and welcome them into adulthood, take them to the car dealership to buy a new car the morning after their graduation.

You can make it a real surprise by bringing the family out for breakfast. After breakfast, the last thing your child will be expecting you to do is stop at a car dealership on the way home. That reaction on their face will become a lifelong memory for you.

As your kids walk across the stage to receive their diplomas this spring, they will be entering into another leg of their life’s journey. While you may not be able to take every step of that journey with them, you can send them off in style.