How to Make a Hawaiian Lei


Stepping off the airplane to begin a tropical vacation in paradise and having a pretty Island maiden slip a flowered lei over your head is the stereotypical image of a Hawaiian vacation. Leis are a Polynesian tradition made from flowers, shells, feathers, seeds or bones. Hawaiian flower leis resemble long necklaces, falling mid-chest. Traditionally, flowered leis are comprised of a long strand of flower blossoms. For an authentic Hawaiian luau, make flowered leis for the party guests.

Step 1

Obtain a long needle. Special lei needles, which are about 10 inches long, are available from specialty stores or online.

Step 2

Collect about 80 flowers, such as plumerias, marigolds, orchids, roses or carnations. You can use artificial flowers, providing a needle can be pushed through the flower's center.

Step 3

Cut a 45-inch strand of dental floss.

Step 4

Thread one end of the dental floss through the eye of the needle.

Step 5

Push the needle through the center front of a flower, sliding it onto the needle.

Step 6

Repeat the previous step two more times, and when three flowers are on the needle, slide all three onto the strand of dental floss attached to the needle.

Step 7

Repeat the previous two steps, until there are approximately 36 inches of flowers on the strand.

Step 8

Tie the two ends together, so the entire lei is covered with flowers and no dental floss is showing. Trim off any excess ends of strand, if necessary.

Things You'll Need

  • Long needle
  • Approximately 80 flowers
  • Dental floss
  • Scissors


  • Hawaii Luaus: How to Make a Lei
  • Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage: Leis
Keywords: Hawaiian lei, making a flowered lei, making Hawaiian lei

About this Author

Ann Johnson has been a freelance writer since 1995. She previously served as the editor of a community magazine in Southern California and was also an active real estate agent, specializing in commercial and residential properties. She has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University of Fullerton.