How to Make Hawaiian Leis With Tissue Paper

Updated April 17, 2017

Hawaiian leis are intricate wreaths worn around the neck or forehead that are constructed with a variety of materials, including fresh flowers, seashells and green ferns. Traditionally, leis signify love, friendship or appreciation and are often given at weddings, funerals, graduations and other events. You can make your own headband leis at home with coloured tissue paper to give to friends and family or to use as a party favour at your own luau.

Cut coloured tissue paper into 3-by-3 inch squares. You will need about 30 to 40 pieces or more for one lei. Use different-coloured tissue paper for a more festive and colourful final result.

Cut a 2-inch strip of poster board for the headband that will be long enough to comfortably fit around your forehead. Add a little more length on the strip so you can overlap the ends when taping together after you're finished adding flowers.

Spread glue evenly over the poster board. Don't use too much glue or it could cause the tissue paper to tear when you're positioning flowers on the strip. Wipe off any excess glue as you work.

Place the eraser of a pencil on the centre of a piece of tissue paper. Twist the paper upward around the pencil.

Remove the pencil and place the tissue paper on the strip. Hold it in place for a few seconds to secure it.

Repeat with more tissue paper squares until the entire strip of poster board is covered with flowers. Fluff out the tissue flowers, then fill in any spots that look a little bare with more flowers.

Secure the ends of the headband using masking tape. The lei is ready to wear or give to a friend.


Arrange the different tissue paper colours to create fun patterns. Or use one or two colours to coordinate with the colours of items used for the theme of a party or event. For less mess, especially if kids are making the leis, spread 3 to 4 inches of glue along the band, add flowers, then spread a few more inches of glue along the strip before adding flowers. Continue in this manner until the band is full of flowers.

Things You'll Need

  • Coloured tissue paper
  • Scissors
  • 2-inch strip of posterboard
  • Glue
  • Pencil
  • Masking tape


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About the Author

Christine Argier began writing in 2004 and is backed by more than six years of experience working in the IT field. She holds CompTIA A+ and Green IT certifications and is also a Microsoft Office Master Specialist certified at the expert level in both Microsoft Word and Excel. Argier is currently working toward finalizing her CompTIA Technical Trainer certification (CTT+) and Adobe Certified Expert accreditation (ACE).