DIY Lei (made from almost anything)

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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.

colorful candy lei with red and white ribbon on white table with blue graduation cap in background with text overlay reading DIY Lei made out of anything

There are many different occasions when leis are given in Hawai’i:

  • Graduation
  • Birthday
  • Lei Day
  • Anniversary
  • 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.

close up of candy lei with red and white ribbon ties

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

pile of colorful candy, roll of plastic wrap roll of ribbon and red scissors on table
roll of plastic wrap stretched out on on table with candy piled in background

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. 
candy pieces laid out on cellophane on table
roll of ribbon, red scissors and 2 lengths of cut ribbon on table with candy lei in background

Cut lengths of ribbon approximately 9″ long. 

Carefully wrap the plastic wrap around the items and tie ribbons in the space between items.

candy in clear cellophane with red and white ribbons tied between some candy and other ribbons laying on table

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.

candy lei on table with arrows pointing tore red and white ribbons tied between candy

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

Have fun with the creativity of making your own DIY Lei made uniquely for someone special. 

candy lei on table with blue graduation cap with text overlay reading DIY Lei made out of anything

Check out all my lei tutorials and have fun creating.

collage of 5 lei tutorial images with title text reading 9+ DIY Lei Tutorials

More Graduation Lei Ideas

See all my favorite graduation crafts, party ideas, printables and recipes in the table below. You can scroll though the table and look for ideas or search for specific ideas with the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner (on desktop). Click on the topic and then click through the specific article.

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