How to Make a Hawaiian Lei

February 10, 2021 1

A Hawaiian lei is a traditional flower strung garland representing love, friendship, honor and greetings.  When new comers or returning residents arrive to Hawaii, it is common to gift them by placing a Hawaiian Lei around their neck with a kiss on the cheek. The plumeria flower is one of the most popular flowers to string a lei with, and the aroma of this flower is delightful.
Making a lei is much easier than you would think! Below I will list step by step instructions on how to make a Hawaiian lei.


What you will need:

  1. Needle (Lei making needle or regular needle)
  2. String (fishing wire is recommended- durable and easy to glide through the flowers)
  3. Flowers


A lei can be made of any type of fresh flowers. Plumerias, orchids, roses, and daisies are all very common flowers to use. You can even add leaves or ferns into your lei to make it unique!
Flowers that are sturdy are much easier to use. If they are too delicate, you will find them falling off once strung. To give you an idea, to make a 40 inch lei, you will need about 50 flowers. Picking the flower by the stem will help with stringing them later.


Normally, I eyeball my measurement. Depending on whether I feel like making a full lei that will rest around ones neck, or a flower crown.

Hold a long piece of fishing wire, and measure around your neck, all the way down to below the breast. This will assure that the lei will fit around your neck, leaving room to rest on your shoulders. You can always leave extra room on your string, and cut later.

For specific measurements, cut 100” of string in length. Doubled over, this allows for a 40’’ lei with 5″ on each end for tying together when finished!



Take a large needle and slide the string through the loop until the string is doubled over and even. At the end, you will tie a knot.
*Make sure to leave 5 inches of space on the end for tying.

Take your first flower, and string from the front of the flower back through the stem. You may also string the opposite direction depending on the type of flower you are using.
Gently push the flower all the way to the end of the string where the knot is.
Make sure to be careful while stringing the flowers as they are very fragile.
Continue stringing each flower one by one onto the lei. You may face the flowers all in the same direction, or opposite directions to create a different look!
Once the lei is about 40 inches in length, hold it up to your neck and measure on yourself to see if you are happy with the outcome.


Finishing the Lei


Adjust the placement of the flowers so they are even and settled perfectly together. Tie the ends of the string together in a square knot.
Leaving the ends of the string helps hold the lei so you do not disrupt the flowers on it. Clip the strings right before gifting the lei to its recipient.


Storing the Lei

To store your lei, mist with water and then place in a plastic bag. Keep the bag in the refrigerator. This will keep the flowers fresh. Your lei may definitely be worn more than once!

Now that you know how to make a Hawaiian lei, you must give it a try! It is a fun activity to do with friends, or a gift to give for a birthday, greeting, or holiday. Lei’s also make fun props for photoshoots! Whatever the occasion, it is always nice to have some flowers to brighten up the day.

We would love to see your lei! Tag us on instagram @bellesurfcafe to share your lei making experience with us!

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