It’s customary in Hawai’i to give lei on special occasions. The event could be a birthday, a graduation, congratulations on a job well done, or a welcome to the islands. Normally, lei are flowers, but sometimes they are made of shells, candy, origami lucky stars, or paper blossoms. My sister and her family arrive today, and while she and my BIL will be bedecked in flowers and kukui nuts, I figured she wouldn’t appreciate candy for her young kids, and conversely, the kids wouldn’t appreciate the fresh flowers.
So I got crafting. I’m definitely NOT the first to make this kind of lei. Elementary school teachers have been helping kids churn these out by the dozens every May for Lei Day. They make theirs from construction paper, but I used double sided scrapbooking paper for a fancier look. I really wanted aloha prints, but my stupid craft store which used to have them no longer carries such regional stuff, and I wasn’t willing to drive all over the island looking for hibiscus patterned paper. But, I digress. I used two punches to cut out about 40 flowers from three different papers.
After punching out the flowers, cut about 6 regular drinking straws into 3/4 inch bits. Cut a piece of string about 60″ long and thread it onto a large needle. Tie a knot about 6 inches from the end of the string. Poke the needle through the center of a flower to thread it onto the string. Add a straw section, then another flower, then a straw section, and so on until you’ve used up all the flowers. Tie another knot after the last flower. Put a straw bit on both tail ends of the string (as spacers) and tie the ends together with a square knot. If desired you can cover this plain knot with a little bow or puff of curly ribbon. Plastic pony beads instead of straw sections looks really nice too, but remember to punch out about twice as many flowers.
Place lei over the head of a deserving kid and give them a big hug and kiss. Aloha!