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Last year I had two graduation parties to plan. My elder daughter graduated from college while my younger one graduated from high school. My girls are 4 ½ years apart which is the ideal spacing in age for putting children through college, by the way.

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I wish I was one of those mamas who could throw together a beautiful backyard soiree like most of their friends’ parents did, but we – okay, I mean “I” am not that festive. My backyard is not manicured enough to even host the neighbor’s dog. I wish I had the gift of hospitality, but I don’t. Those fortunate to have that gift do not “sweat the small stuff” of entertaining. Even if everything is not perfect they manage to remain relaxed and focused on their guest. Me, not so much. I do good to host Thanksgiving dinner every year, and my parents do most of the cooking.

So what was I to do about 2 graduation parties? Find a fun venue!

We live just outside of Nashville, so I chose the Café Fontanella, an Italian Kitchen, on the grounds of the Fontanel Mansion (formerly owned by Country Music Star Barbara Mandrell). We had attended a birthday party there the previous summer on the café’s large porch to celebrate one of my husband’s best friend’s birthdays. I thought it would also be a great place to host my girls’ graduation get-together. It’s a cool place, and I knew my girls would be proud to have an event hosted at this venue. So, we reserved the porch. We enjoyed delicious pasta and salad with great service from the Cafe’s staff.

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Here is an example of one of the postcard graduation invitations I had made using one of my younger daughter’s recent prom pictures.

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I set up a graduation tablescape using both of their school’s colors. I bought colored candles, chalkboards, matching ribbons and frames. I wrote “2013” and “Jer 29:11” on the chalkboards. I framed diplomas and graduation announcements as keepsakes. I also used their senior pictures, graduation caps, gowns and cords to really carry off the graduation theme.

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The graduation cakes were each flavored to their liking – one chocolate, on strawberry!

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It was a stress-free event and we all got to enjoy the day, visit with friends and family while celebrating our daughter’s graduation! It was low-key, and that’s how we roll. I encourage you to do whatever matches your lifestyle. It will make your celebration so much more enjoyable for everyone.

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From a spiritual perspective, I selected a scripture for our celebration (Jeremiah 29:11). Here are some other great verses for you to consider for your special graduation event.

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“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7-9

“Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.” Psalm 105:4

“May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.” Psalm 20:4

“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” Proverbs 3:5-10

“Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.” Ecclesiastes 12:12-13

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Colossians 3:23

“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:57-58

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ-to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

For more graduation celebration ideas, you can also check out my EVENT PLANNING board on Pinterest

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Author Gina Duke is a wife, mother and Director of Women’s Ministry at her local church. With a B.S. in Organizational Leadership, she is able to bring a clear word for authentic Christian living. Through her book, “Organizing Your Prayer Closet: A New and Life-Changing Way to Pray” (Abingdon Press), she imparts 1 Peter 4:7 with the gift of structured prayer journaling. Ms. Duke also blogs and offers numerous videos and resources at GinaDuke.com. You may also follow her on Twitter and Instagram @TheGinaDuke.

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