I grew up in Hawai’i with the tradition of lei giving. Since I no longer live in Hawai’i (thanks to the military) I’ve learned to make a variety of Hawaiian leis myself. It’s still a part of my family’s tradition to give leis and these DIY lei tutorials and instructions make that possible. Because I’m a busy mom, these are all simple lei making tutorials that anyone can do. If I can make these leis, anyone can. Really.
Lei giving is a Hawaiian tradition that goes back hundreds of years. I shared about my daughter’s hula competition and making a Lei Niho Palaoa, which is a traditional style lei. Today leis are given for many situations, but one of the most cherished is giving leis at graduation.
You can see from my high school graduation (just a few years ago!), that giving a graduation lei is a cherished tradition.
Types of Hawaiian Leis:
- Flower Lei
- Ti Leaf Lei
- Ribbon Lei
- Crocheted Lei
- Eyelash Lei
- Candy Lei
- Shell Lei
- Feather Lei
- Nut Lei
Books available on Amazon with even more diy lei tutorials.
Occasions to Give a Hawaiian Lei
- 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.
- You can wear a lei anytime and any occasion.
- A closed lei is worn with half the length hanging in the front and half in the back.
- An open lei is worn with equal lengths hanging evenly on each side in the front and the center of the lei next to the back of the neck.
- If a closed lei has a bow, the bow is worn on either the left or right shoulder. Like a wedding ring, if the bow is worn on the right shoulder, it indicates that you are available and the left indicates that you are taken.
- Do not refuse to accept a lei that is given to you. This is disrespectful. The gift of a lei should always be accepted graciously.
- Do not give a closed lei to a pregnant woman. This is considered bad luck.
- Do not wear a lei that you will give to someone else. This is considered back luck.
- If your lei is made of natural materials, return it to nature when you are done with it. Don’t just throw it away in the trash.
DIY Lei Tutorials
Once you know how, most of these leis are fairly simple to make yourself. Several of these DIY Lei Tutorials also include video explanations.
How to Make a Ribbon Lei – A simple introductory tutorial to ribbon lei making.
How to Make a Ribbon Lei with 3 Colors – A twist on the simple ribbon lei that allows you to make a ribbon lei with three colors.
Double Braided Ribbon Lei – A slightly more complicated, but still easy, tutorial to make a more substantial ribbon lei.
Money Lei Tutorial with Ribbon Lei – Combining a money lei with a ribbon lei results in a money lei that is more comfortable to wear.
Crochet Yarn Lei – A pretty crocheted lei that mimics the traditional Hawaiian pikake lei.
Crocheted Graduation Lei – A fun multi-color crocheted lei.
How to Make a Candy Lei – A traditional candy lei is easy to make when you know how.
Candy Lei Variation – A simple variation on the traditional candy lei.
DIY Lei Made from Anything (Almost) – Make a lei from almost any item you’d like.
Dog Treat Lei – Your dog will love receiving a dog lei as much as your family and friends will.
What’s your favorite lei giving or receiving memory? These DIY Lei Tutorials will add more favorite lei giving memories to your collection.