UNITED STATES—It is that time of year people, May and June are big months for graduations. Rather it is from preschool, Kindergarten, middle school, high school or college. May is geared for the college students. For me, my niece is graduating from college and the family could not be more ecstatic because it has been a tough few years as a result of COVID-19, but she pulled thru and it will be an important weekend of celebration as she walks across the stage.

A graduation is always a fun thing for families. It is bonding and the celebration of a big accomplishment. For the youngsters it is not as difficult, but when you get to high school, undergraduate school, graduate school and doctoral degrees, there is a challenge. It is no cakewalk; you truly have to earn it people. The big question that rises time and time again is do you give a gift to the graduate. My answer is: ABSOLUTELY! Why the hell would you not!

Even for the youngsters, you get them a gift people. It might be smaller in quantity or scope, but you get something. When you reach high school and above, you aim for money as a gift. I recall in high school that I got a decent amount of cash, varying degrees between $50 to $100, a bit more from mom and dad though. When it was all said and done I was probably gifted $700 to $1000; some parents do a bit more, if your budget allows it go for it. If the person graduating is a sibling or very close relative I think $25 to $50 is a decent gift for a high school graduate.

Now, if you’re looking at a college graduate, I would expect the gift to be updated a bit more. Based on my experience the lowest amount I received from relatives and friends of the family was $100. My parents offered a lot more think $300 to $600 per parent. I wanted a car, but that doesn’t happen for everyone. Between college graduation day and the week or two following I easily amounted around $3000 or more.

A vast majority of those funds I stashed into my savings account. I mean hello, I just graduated college and was beginning to start my career as an adult in terms of living independently, getting a job and learning all about finances and expenses (FYI I already had a little bit of experience paying bills). Don’t feel guilty if you’re not able to deliver a large gift to the college graduate. You do what you can and what appropriately fits your budget.

At the same time, most high school and college graduates are just happy to get anything at all. In fact those small amounts actually add up over time, which is exactly what you want. The one thing I wish I did more was take pictures. Rather preschool, middle school, high school or college, take pictures of those moments and live in the moment. I cannot recall a graduation I attended where I was not happy.

It just emits great energy that boosts the spirts of everyone in attendance. Not just the person you’re celebrating, but other graduates as well people. If you’re on a college campus, capture pics of iconic staples on the campus with the undergraduate. Remember a picture lasts forever and with technology today you can upload to the cloud and have those pics forever. Plus you can always go back and reflect on your thoughts during those pics.

Of course after walking across the stage it is time to celebrate and for most families that means dining at a restaurant. I actually love this because it allows more family bonding time, and the graduate gets to choose where he or she wants to eat. The choice made is the choice everyone has to deal with and rarely are there arguments about the place you choose. Why? Um, hello, you’re the graduate so that day is all about you, and the people around you should celebrate that to its entirety.