How to Make Samoan Money Leis

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Samoan money leis are necklaces of folded bills that are popular ways of giving cash gifts to recent graduates, newlyweds and birthday celebrants. The idea originated in the Pacific, where leis of flowers are traditional gifts of welcome. The concept of money leis has spread across the world, and you can find money leis in almost every culture now. Here's how to make your own money lei.

Things You'll Need

  • Ribbon, about 3 feet long
  • 50-100 bills (usually $1 bills)
  • small silk flowers (optional)
  • origami paper (optional)
  • Get fresh new bills from the bank. Don't use crumpled, limp, torn, or dirty bills for the lei.

  • Lay each bill out and fold it accordion style in ¼ inch segments.

  • Tie the ribbon around the center of the bill and knot it twice.

  • Slide a silk flower onto the ribbon and then tie on the next folded bill. Alternate flowers and bills until you have used up all the bills. You can also alternate pieces of origami paper, folded in the same way as the bills, between the bills and/or flowers.

  • Tie the ends of the ribbon together with a double knot. Let the bills fan out.

Tips & Warnings

  • For fancier leis, look at an origami book for ideas on folding origami paper and bills into other shapes. Coordinate the color of the ribbon and the origami paper you use for a professional look.
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