April 22, 2024
This comprehensive guide explores how to make unique and personalized graduation leis for your loved ones. From the step-by-step guide, crafting techniques and materials, to personalized and creative ideas, and how-to guides, this article provides everything you need to know before you get started. Learn how to make your own graduation lei, add personalized touches, and create something unique and festive for the graduate. Make a lasting impression on graduation day with handmade graduation leis.


A graduation lei, pronounced as “lay,” is a garland of flowers or other adornments worn around the neck. Graduates typically receive leis during their graduation ceremony as a show of love and appreciation from their family and friends. This practice has become so common that, in some traditions, it has developed into a fine art.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of making graduation leis from scratch. Whether you’re an experienced crafter or a first-timer, we’ve compiled a detailed, step-by-step guide that will make crafting these leis a breeze. We’ve also included a list of unique and creative ideas, as well as tips and tricks to make your handmade leis all the more special. So, let’s get started!

How to Make Graduation Leis: A Step-by-Step Guide

Here we have provided a step-by-step guide to crafting a basic graduation lei from flowers:

  1. Take some strands of ribbon and knot them securely together. The length of your ribbon depends on the desired length of your lei.
  2. Take your choice of flowers – traditionally in Hawaii, orchids are used – and string them onto the ribbon, using a long, curved needle to guide the ribbon through the flower’s center.
  3. Push the flowers close together, making sure there is no visible ribbon. It’s essential to maintain their order and symmetry.
  4. Repeat the process, tying each flower with small knots to secure it. Cut away any excess ribbon.
  5. Once you have completed the loop, tie the lei firmly in a knot.
  6. The lei is now ready to be decorated with other adornments such as ribbon, beads, and more flowers.

Here are a few tips to make it easier:

  • Ensure the flowers you choose are fresh; wilted flowers will ruin the overall look of your lei.
  • Use a curved needle to help lace the flower stem and hold it in place; a straight needle can damage the flower.
  • Only use small knots to keep the flowers in place; large knots will become an eyesore.
  • Wear latex gloves during the creation process to prevent the transfer of oils from your hands onto the flowers, which may cause them to droop or wilt.
  • Lastly, there’s no wrong way to make a lei, so be creative and enjoy the process!

DIY Graduation Leis: Unique Ideas and Tips

If you’re aiming for something beyond basic, we’ve compiled some cool and creative ideas to spur your imagination. Here are some unique DIY graduation lei ideas:

  • Use tissue paper or crepe paper instead of flowers to make a lei that won’t wilt in the sun.
  • Make a lei entirely from candy or chocolate wrapped in a shiny wrapper – a sweet treat to celebrate the achievement.
  • Use school colors to make the lei appear more cohesive and honor the graduate’s school spirit.
  • Personalize the lei by attaching small tokens representing the graduate’s interests or hobbies.
  • Add printed photos of the grad and their friends and family to the centre of some of the flowers to create unique and meaningful memories.

Crafting Your Own Graduation Leis: Materials and Techniques

As mentioned earlier, making graduation leis is a form of art, and like any other artform, there are specific materials and techniques involved. Here are some of the necessary materials and techniques:

  • Flowers – fresh or silk
  • Ribbon or cord
  • Scissors
  • Wire
  • Twine
  • Craft glue
  • Curved needle
  • Wire cutters
  • Tape

Each material has a specific purpose. For example, the ribbon or cord used serves as the foundation of the lei, which you will string the flowers onto. Flowers are the main attraction, and the use of silk flowers is a good idea since they last longer and won’t wilt quickly. Meanwhile, the curved needle has a specific hook design that prevents it from piercing through the petals of the flower; it makes nicely-shaped loops and is perfect for making garlands.

There are different techniques used when it comes to making leis. Some of the most common include haku (a head lei designed with braids spaced with flowers), money leis, cigar leis, yarn leis, and ribbon leis. You will need to choose your favourite technique and try it out to see what works best for you.

Bring a Personal Touch to Graduation with Handmade Leis

Not only is a handmade lei a unique and heartfelt gift, but it is also an excellent mode of bringing a personal touch to a graduation ceremony. One of the best ways to make this possible is by customizing the lei to the graduate’s likes and personality. Here are some ideas:

  • Make unique and personalized charms that reflect the graduate’s interests and attach them on to the lei.
  • Find their favourite flowers, or create the lei using their favourite colour or pattern.
  • Attach their favourite games, books, or even snacks on to the lei.
  • Include thoughtful notes from family and friends to make it even more special.

Creative Ideas for Homemade Graduation Leis

To impress the graduate, try out one of these innovative and impressive homemade leis:

  • A Hawaiian style lei with tropical flowers and fruits will add a beautiful and exotic flare to the ceremony.
  • Use clear beads to thread onto the lei at intervals. Cut up and add foil confetti between the beads for an extra celebratory touch.
  • A double-chained yarn lei of the grad’s favourite colours is a simple yet striking choice that will make a perfect statement piece.
  • A money lei made of assorted denominations of dollar bills tied together with decorative ribbon can be a fun and thoughtful way of showing support for the graduate’s future endeavours.
  • A candy lei is perfect for the young graduate who loves sweet treats. You can use wrapped candies with tiny cellophane bags or cover each candy with tissue paper cut out from school colours.

Crafting the Perfect Graduation Lei: Inspiration and How-to Guide

The perfect graduation lei is one that is both thoughtfully crafted and aesthetically pleasing. Taking inspiration from the graduate can make the process all the more meaningful. Here is a guide on crafting the perfect graduation lei:

  1. Pick a theme or colour scheme to work with. You can work with school colours or base it on the graduate’s favourite colours.
  2. Choose the type of flowers, given that they are the most important aspect of the lei. Consider the variety and character of the flower, as well as their fragrance and symbolism.
  3. Determine the type of ribbon or cord that you’d like to use, depending on the lei’s desired length and the thickness of the flower stems.
  4. Pick the adornments that complement the flowers you’ve selected. These may include beads, fabric flowers, shells, photos, and more.
  5. Start with making a festival-haku lei that can last for several days, or alternatively, a single-use cord lei made of ribbon and flowers that can be discarded after the ceremony.

With these same steps, you can create a perfect and meaningful lei that your graduate will cherish for years to come.


Graduation leis are more than a mere decoration; they’re a thoughtful and beautiful way to express your admiration and love. Making your own lei is an excellent way to show your support and appreciation for the graduate’s hard work and accomplishments. With our detailed guide and unique ideas, you can make a graduation lei that is unique, personal, and unforgettable.

Whether you’re making a classic flower lei or a modern candy lei, it’s the love and thoughtfulness that counts.

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