How to Make a Hawaiian Lei Out of Fresh Flowers

Written by roxanne mchenry
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How to Make a Hawaiian Lei Out of Fresh Flowers
Fresh carnations make attractive leis. (carnations image by Jaroslav Machacek from

Contrary to the modern idea of leis being for special occasions only, Hawaiians use leis as part of their everyday lives. Making a Hawaiian lei use to require tropical orchids, flowers and plants indigenous to the Hawaiian islands. However, with the spread of leis throughout the world, you can make a fresh flower lei from readily available flowers such as carnations and roses, or any flower that will hold up to stringing into a lei.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Scissors
  • Waxed dental floss
  • Tape measure
  • 2 alligator clips
  • Lei needle
  • 40 to 50 fresh blossoms
  • Plastic food storage bag

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  1. 1

    Remove any stems at the base of the blossoms using the floral scissors, then line up the blossoms in a row to make stringing easier.

  2. 2

    Measure a 50-inch piece of dental floss with a tape measure and cut with the floss cutter. Thread the floss onto a lei needle, then place an alligator clip about 5 inches in from the farthest end of the floss.

  3. 3

    Stick the end of the lei needle into the centre of the flower and pass it through the base of the flower. Repeat with two more flowers on the lei needle, then slide the blossoms off the needle onto the dental floss down to the end with the clip.

  4. 4

    String all of the fresh flowers onto the dental floss, gently pressing newly strung flowers against the previous blossom on the lei.

  5. 5

    Stop stringing flowers when the lei is about 5 inches from the end of the floss. Add a few extra blossoms to the lei if the strung flowers stop short of the end.

  6. 6

    Remove the lei needle and alligator clip without dropping any strung flowers off the dental floss. Tie a square knot in the ends of the dental floss to complete the lei.

  7. 7

    Place the completed lei into a plastic food storage bag; sprinkle the inside of the bag with water before sealing. Store in a refrigerator in the vegetable drawer above 7.22 degrees C.

Tips and warnings

  • If you cannot find a lei needle, use a long carpet needle.
  • String the flowers only a few at a time to avoid ripping or tearing the blossoms as you move them off the needle.

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