In Hawai’i a lei is a thoughtful and much appreciated gift. It’s a way to show affection and to honor the recipient. There are many types of traditional Hawaiian leis, but sometimes an occasion calls for a unique lei. You can make a DIY lei from almost anything. This allows you to create a special lei that reflects the recipient’s interests or shares your own interests. The wow! impact made by a unique DIY lei belies how easy it is to make.
There are many different occasions when leis are given in Hawai’i:
- Lei Day
- To Honor a Guest
- To Thank Someone
- To Show Affection and Respect
- Can be worn by a bride and groom at the wedding or at the reception
- Can be incorporated in a funeral or memorial service
Graduation and birthdays are two of the most popular lei giving occasions and both are perfect for a DIY lei made specifically for the recipient’s interests.
Look at how fun this fruit jelly cup lei is! My oldest baby is graduating this month. She grew up in Hawai’i and Japan and has loved these fruit jelly cups since she was very young. This unique lei will put a big smile on her face, bring back happy childhood memories and stand out for her as a special graduation memory.
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Lei Making Supplies
- Your Unique Item of Choice
- Choose an item that has meaning for the recipient.
- Plastic Wrap
- If it’s a graduation lei, use the school colors.
- If it’s a lei for a different occasion, use the recipient’s favorite colors or colors that coordinate with the items you’re making into the lei.
- Yard Stick or Measuring Tape
Working on a large work space, measure approximately 60 inches of plastic wrap. Keep the wrap as smooth and flat as possible (otherwise you’ll spend way too much time untangling the plastic wrap-ask me how I know!).
Lay your items out on the plastic wrap. In placing the lei items, consider:
- Spacing for tying the ribbons
- Alternating colors or item types
- Leaving space at the end to close the lei
- I recommend leaving an extra 6 to 8 inches for closing. This extra space is also perfect for placing on the back of the neck. If you place bulky items in the entire lei, then those items are uncomfortable on the back of the neck when the recipient is wearing the lei.
Cut lengths of ribbon approximately 9″ long.
Carefully wrap the plastic wrap around the items and tie ribbons in the space between items.
I recommend starting with the item that is in the center of the lei and working your way out on each side. Take your time and make sure the the plastic wrap is secure so that your items don’t fall out of the lei.
Close the ends of the lei by placing one end of the plastic wrap tube inside of the other end. Tie both ends shut with ribbon. If you leave enough plastic wrap, you create this gap for the recipient’s neck.
More Lei Making Tutorials
- DIY Lei Tutorials & Instructions
- How to Make a Ribbon Lei
- How to Make a Ribbon Lei with Three Colors
- Double-Braided Ribbon Lei Instructions
- Crocheted Yarn Lei
- Crocheted Graduation Lei
- How to Make a Candy Lei
- Candy Lei Variation & Dog Treat Lei
Have fun with the creativity of making your own DIY Lei made uniquely for someone special.