I grew up in Hawai’i where graduation means leis and lots of leis. There are many different types of leis that are given for graduation, but a money lei is the iconic graduation lei. The traditional money lei is made up of 50 or more dollar bills and money flowers are aligned to create a fuller look. It’s impressive to see a lei made of 50 or more dollar bills, but it’s not very comfortable to wear. This money lei tutorial uses a ribbon lei as the base and it’s much more comfortable to wear. It’s much quicker and easier to make. Oh, and it’s so pretty, too!
A traditional money uses many more folded money flowers that are strung onto a ribbon like beads.
While a money lei is always fun to receive, the traditional money lei is uncomfortable to wear. Especially since graduates usually receive many leis that pile up on top of each other.
The money lei I make has folded money flowers that lay flat and you are able to leave the back of the lei (the part that hangs on your neck) free of money flowers. This is what helps make this money lei more comfortable to wear.
By adding the money flowers to a ribbon lei, the graduate is able to keep the ribbon lei as a keepsake after the money is removed.
Money Lei Tutorial with Ribbon Lei
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Money Lei Supplies
- Ribbon Lei – Choose one of these ribbon lei tutorials and make a lei using the graduate’s school’s colors:
- Double Sided Tape
- 1/8 inch satin ribbon – This ribbon is in addition to the ribbon used to create your ribbon lei above.
- Pony Beads – Choose colors to coordinate with your ribbon lei.
- Crisp Dollar Bills – They don’t have to be brand new bills, they just need to be crisp and not wrinkled. I went to my bank and explained what I needed. The cashier and I looked through the cash she had until we found the number of crisp bills that I needed. To determine how many bills you need, first decide the value of the lei you want to give. Once you decide on the value, divide that number by 7, 9 or 11. You may need to adjust your total amount or use several different denominations of bills. The important thing is that you use an odd number of bills. I used 7 on this lei, but I recommend 9 or 11.
- Bone Folder Creasing Tool – Optional
Money Lei – Creasing the Bill
When you fold the bills be sure to carefully align the edges of the bill and use the nail of you thumb or a bone folder creasing tool to sharply crease each fold. It’s important that you keep the edges aligned when you make each new fold so that your final flower will not be symmetrical.
- Fold the bill in half.
- Fold it in half again.
- Fold it in half one more time. Take the time to align all the edges and hold them in place carefully while you crease the fold, which will be a bit more difficult because of the thickness.
- Gently unfold the bill.
Money Lei – Money Lei Flower
- Using the creases you created in the steps above, fold the bill accordion fashion. Take the time to line up the edges with each new fold and crease the folds carefully.
- The folded bill will look like an accordion.
- Holding the bill together, carefully align edges and fold the bill in half. Crease firmly.
- Cut a length of ribbon approximately 9 inches long. Thread a pony bead onto the ribbon.
- Tie the ribbon around the middle of the folded bill. Hold the pony bead in place on the edge of the folded bill (the bead will tend slide to the side of the folded bill) and carefully tie the ribbon tightly around the folded bill.
- Open up the folded bill and use double-sided tape to attach the edges together and form a flower.
Look at how lovely these simple money lei flowers are!
Determine the placement of the flowers along the length of the ribbon lei. In determining the placement, place one money flower at the center of the front of the lei (this would hang at the center bottom of the lei in the front). Leave 10 to 12 inches open with no flowers at the opposite end of the lei. This area will be at the back of the neck. Leaving this area free of money flowers will make it more comfortable to wear.
Once you establish the one flower at the front center and the open area at the back of the lei, then arrange the remaining money flowers evenly along the rest of the lei.
Tie the money flower onto the ribbon lei and weave the tails of the ribbon into the lei so they won’t show.
Look how festive this money lei is! With the money flowers tied onto the ribbon lei they are more visible than in the traditional money lei. You can clearly see how pretty they are. Adding a coordinating pony bead to the center of each flower really jazzes it up.
Just imagine how excited a graduate would be to receive this money lei! In addition to being more comfortable, your graduate will appreciate receiving fewer larger denomination bills. Imagine how awkward it is to take $50 in $1 bills to the store.
More Lei Tutorials
- DIY Lei Tutorials and Instructions
- Double-Braided Ribbon Lei
- How to Make a Ribbon Lei
- How to Make a Ribbon Lei with 3 Colors
- How to Make a Candy Lei
- Crochet Yarn Lei
- Crocheted Graduation Lei
Who do you know that would be thrilled with a money lei? This money lei tutorial will earn you the best graduation gift giver award this year.