top of page
julie nolta design
Julie Nolta

Hi, I'm Julie, Chief Executive Empress

of my little apple green design studio.

Welcome to my blog!

When I'm not out visiting a client or searching for just the right  product for a project, I can probably be found in my happy little studio (painted the perfect shade of green), busy drawing up new ideas for a cool kitchen or a "spa-licious" bathroom. I like to share the fun stuff I find along the way!


apple green studio

A great gift idea for the graduate: design a gift basket for their new digs!

gift ideas for graduates

It’s that time of year again, and I’m not talking about allergy season! Friday evening found me in the stands at Sherwood High School, in my Betsy Johnson raincoat, proudly watching my nephew graduate from high school.

Do you have a special kid graduating this year? Are you wracking your brain for a gift idea for your favorite high school senior?

How about this?

It’s tradition in my family to send the kid off to college, or a new apartment, with an “atta boy” and a huge gift basket of stuff that they’re going to need when they get there - - anything and everything from bedding to bath and kitchen supplies to their favorite survival foods.

A bunch of us chip in so we can buy more stuff, and then the designated shopper, me this year, picks everything out making sure it’s all color coordinated (of COURSE), packages it all up in a grand way and delivers it to the graduation party.

This year makes Basket #6 and, to make it easy, my nephew (let’s just call him Jenner since that’s his name!) had created a wish list online at Target. Using some of his ideas and some of mine, I’ve put together a themed collection of things for his new apartment. If you talk to him before the party, don’t ruin the surprise!

And here it is:

graduation gift ideas

Here are a few tips on how you can easily re-create the same idea for your own graduate.

Pick the bedding first

I’d suggest finding out the kid’s favorite color and start with the bedding. Then build the rest of the collection around that color palette. I liked this gray and black, plaid, bed-in-a-bag set, and Jenner had already selected the gray towels, flannel sheets, throw blanket, and the feather artwork, so it was easy to go from there.

Add the essentials

A lamp is a nice addition for late night studying, and this gray one was only $10.

And This Boy is a tea drinker, so a tea kettle or hot pot is a must. Then he’ll need a few dishes and silverware which are easy to pick up at a dollar store if you want.

Here are a few "less colorful" things you can add to the haul if you wanted:

  • Favorite, non-perishable, survival items like power bars, pop tarts, mac & cheese, cereal, and the universally beloved, top ramen

  • Toothpaste, bath soap, shampoo and conditioner and a caddy to carry it all in

  • Laundry soap and a roll of quarters for the washer and dryer

  • First aid supplies like band-aids, Advil or Tylenol, etc.

  • A mattress pad or cover because eww, sleeping on someone else’s mattress!

Bonus tip: Some colleges provide extra long mattresses for tall kids, so it might be smart to ask before you purchase bedding.

Throw it all in a laundry basket

A laundry basket makes a great container to hold all the good junk you’ve found, plus it’s a necessity for dragging unmentionables down the hall to the washer and dryer. :-p

Arrange all your purchases nicely in the basket, wrap some clear cellophane around it, tie a big bow, and you've got a great, practical gift your graduate will love!

Your budget will dictate how far you can go with this idea, so if you're a little more limited, you can always focus on one room and still make a wonderful gift basket with a kitchen or bedroom theme.


Need some help putting together your kid's dorm room or first apartment but don't have the time or confidence to do it yourself?

Call or email me and I can put together a design plan or a personalized gift basket for you just like I did for my nephew. If you're not in the Portland area, I'll send you photos and a list, and you can order the items online. Easy peasy!


971 322 7000   |

bottom of page