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Use these DIY lei tutorials to make any event more memorable with the thoughtful gift of a lei. These are simple crafts that even a beginning crafter can make.

collage of 8 colorful handmade leis in different styles

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.

smiling girl wearing many leis with red lei on top

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

  • 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.
sign with maile lei and white orchid lei at cemetery in front of crematorium wall

Lei Etiquette

  • 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.

Ribbon Lei

How to Make a Ribbon Lei – A simple introductory tutorial to ribbon lei making. 

Light and dark blue ribbon lei lying on top of 3 strand red and white lei with text overlay.

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

Dark blue, light blue and white ribbon lei with text overlay

Double Braided Ribbon Lei – A slightly more complicated, but still easy, tutorial to make a more substantial ribbon lei. 

How to make a double braided ribbon lei with 4 strands of ribbon. And easy-to-follow ribbon lei tutorial perfect for Hawaiian graduation lei gifts.

Money 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. 

overhead view of money lei and graduation mortar board with text overlay

Flower Money Lei Tutorial – A graduation lei made with real money. This easy flower money lei tutorial makes a great gift for any graduate.

flower money lei with red and white ribbon base on white wood table

Money Lei – Maile Lei Style – It’s a unique way to celebrate your graduate and is a great gift and keepsake.

money lei and graduation cap on white wood table

Crocheted Lei

Crochet Yarn Lei – A pretty crocheted lei that mimics the traditional Hawaiian pikake lei. 

3 multi-strand leis lying next to each other on wood table

Crocheted Graduation Lei – A fun multi-color crocheted lei. 

red and white yarn lei on white background

Candy Lei

How to Make a Candy Lei – A traditional candy lei is easy to make when you know how.

candy lei with red, white and black candy and ribbons

Candy Lei Variation – A simple variation on the traditional candy lei.

Two candy leis with red and white ribbon and candy scattered around

Novelty Lei

DIY Lei Made from Anything (Almost) – Make a lei from almost any item you’d like. 

candy lei with red and white ribbon and blue mortar board with text overlay

Dog Treat Lei – Your dog will love receiving a dog lei as much as your family and friends will.

brown and tan dog wearing lei and looking at camera

Pin these DIY Lei Tutorials so you can find them year after year when you want to make leis.


Find all our best Hawaiian lei tutorials, crafts 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.