DIY Themed Graduation Lei Ideas

Graduation day–that exciting time of caps, gowns and endless possibility–is an important milestone that deserves to be celebrated. Send your grad down the commencement aisle in style by making them a festive lei. We're sharing four different types so there's something for everyone: money, candy, flowers and beads/tassels. You can easily personalize it with your grad's school colors, beloved candy or favorite flower. Hat's off to this year's graduates!

Four different graduation lei styles: money, candy, beads, flowers
(Image: Trisha Sprouse)

Money Lei

Money lei
(Image: Trisha Sprouse)

Things You'll Need

  • Dollar bills

  • Pipe cleaners

  • Needle

  • String

  • Scissors

  • Paper flowers

Step 1

Fold each end of the dollar bill one inch in toward the center. You can use whatever denomination of bills that you'd like.

Folding ends of bill to center
(Image: Trisha Sprouse)

Step 2

Fold each of the corners in toward the center, so that they line up with the folded ends.

Folding corners of bill
(Image: Trisha Sprouse)

Step 3

Fold the bill in half lengthwise.

Folding bill in half
(Image: Trisha Sprouse)

Step 4

Fold two more bills so you have a total of three.

Three folded bills
(Image: Trisha Sprouse)

Step 5

Stack the three folded bills together, and twist a pipe cleaner around the center to secure them. You'll want to twist the pipe cleaner along the longer edge of the bills.

Three bills stacked together and tied with pipe cleaner
(Image: Trisha Sprouse)

Step 6

Spread each of the "petals" apart to create a flower shape. Make as many money flowers as you'd like to gift to the graduate.

Spreading petals of money flower open
(Image: Trisha Sprouse)

Step 7

Thread 3 feet of string (we actually used dental floss) onto a needle and then string paper flowers onto it until the string is completely covered.

Stringing paper flowers together with a needle
(Image: Trisha Sprouse)

Step 8

Tie the ends of the string together to form a necklace, and then attach the money flowers to the lei with the pipe cleaners. Trim any long ends off the pipe cleaners and tuck in any sharp ends.

Tying money flowers to lei with pipe cleaners
(Image: Trisha Sprouse)

Be sure to check out our DIY Money Tree, which would make an excellent graduation gift, too!

Candy Lei

Candy lei
(Image: Trisha Sprouse)

Things You'll Need

  • Cellophane

  • Scissors

  • Wrapped candy

  • Ribbon

Step 1

Cut a long string of cellophane (or plastic cling wrap) that is 5 inches wide by 3 feet long.

Cutting strip of cellophane
(Image: Trisha Sprouse)

Step 2

Line candy down the center of the cellophane spaced 1/2 inch apart. You'll want to choose candy that's wrapped and doesn't have the potential to melt on a hot day.

Candy lined up on cellophane
(Image: Trisha Sprouse)

Step 3

Fold both sides of the cellophane around the candy, and tie 6-inch strips of ribbon in between each piece of candy. We used three different ribbon colors and alternated them.

Tying ribbon between each candy piece
(Image: Trisha Sprouse)

Step 4

Tie the ends of the cellophane tightly together with ribbon.

Tying ends of cellophane together
(Image: Trisha Sprouse)

Floral Lei

Flower lei
(Image: Trisha Sprouse)

Things You'll Need

  • 3 to 4 dozen flowers

  • Scissors

  • Needle

  • String

Step 1

Cut the flowers completely off the stems so that the buds of the flowers can lay flat. Three dozen blooms should be enough, but for a taller graduate, you may want to use four dozen.

Cutting flowers off stems
(Image: Trisha Sprouse)

Step 2

Thread a needle with 3 feet of string (4 feet for a tall graduate). Again, we used dental floss for the string, but you could also use fishing line or embroidery thread.

Threading needle with string
(Image: Trisha Sprouse)

Step 3

Stick the needle through the bottom of each flower bud to string them together. You can alternate between different flower colors and shapes, or use all of the same flower.

String flowers together with needle
(Image: Trisha Sprouse)

Step 4

Tie the ends of the string together to form a necklace.

Tying ends of string together
(Image: Trisha Sprouse)

Bead & Tassel Lei

Wood bead and tassel lei
(Image: Trisha Sprouse)

Things You'll Need

  • Ribbon

  • Scissors

  • Wood beads (25mm - 1.25 in)

  • Tassels

  • String

Step 1

Cut a ribbon that's 3 feet in length and string wood beads onto it. We used three large beads (1.25-inch) in the center and then smaller beads (25mm) on the sides.

String wood beads onto ribbon
(Image: Trisha Sprouse)

Step 2

Tie the ends of the string together.

Tying ends of ribbon together
(Image: Trisha Sprouse)

Step 3

Tie tassels in between the beads with string and trim off any excess. We alternated tying a different tassel color every two beads.

Tying tassels in between wood beads
(Image: Trisha Sprouse)
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