A Hawaiian lei is a short garland or wreath presented to another person as symbol of friendship, hospitality or affection. Leis are traditionally worn around the neck and can be made out of many different items including flowers, shells, paper, Kukui Nuts (candlenuts) and feathers. A popular lei for parties, the candy lei, is one that is fun to make and eat.
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Choose Candy Housing and Ribbon
A candy lei requires housing for the candies that make up its structure. Materials often used to hold candy include plastic netting, nylon stockings, cello wrap, cellophane, plastic kitchen wrap or polypropylene film. These wraps are widely available in a multitude of colors and patterns. Ready-made kits for candy leis are also available; these kits contain sized and pre-cut cello wrap for ease of production. Some candy leis are also made with flexible plastic tubing, although cutting and shaping the tubing is more difficult than using wrap this often makes them difficult for the beginner.
With the exception of plastic tubing, once the type of housing has been chosen, it is cut into strips about 12-inches wide and 4-feet long for an adult-sized lei, and 12-inches wide and 3-feet long for a child-sized lei.
Ribbon used to tie the candy compartments together can be fabric, paper or gift ribbon. Fabric ribbon lends a more finished look to the lei, but it can make the costs go up. The ribbons used can complement a party's theme or relate to a color scheme, if desired.
Choose Theme and Candy
Candy leis can be customized to meet the theme of the party or can contain candy favorites. If the party is for a little boy's birthday, foil-wrapped chocolate cars can make up the lei's compartments. For a little girl's birthday, pink gummy bears and gum balls can fill the inside of the lei. Candies can be wrapped or unwrapped and be placed together or individually. The only restriction is that candy should be no larger than 2 inches in diameter to keep the lei a manageable size.
Candies that lend themselves well to leis include Tootsie Rolls, gummy animals, gumballs, Jolly Ranchers, Runts, Hershey's Kisses, Hershey's Miniatures and peppermint wheels. For holiday leis, miniature candy canes, candy corn and candy pumpkins, Sweethearts, or gumballs in red, white and blue can be used.
Fill with Candy
Once you choose the candy and prepare the wrap, form the lei by placing candy in 1- to 2-inch increments down the length of the wrap. You can place candies down the wrap individually or in groups. Include enough sections of candies to fill the wrap lengthwise up until there are about 3 inches left on each end. These "tails" will be used to connect the necklace.
Every time a new section is formed, roll the plastic wrap around the candies and twist the section closed on each end so that it securely contains the candies. Use 3-inch long pieces of ribbon to tie off each section. Ribbons can be tied into bows or simply knotted, depending on your preference.
Once the candy sections are complete, tie the ends of the lei together with a 4-inch length of ribbon knotted on one end of the wrap and tied to the other end, closing the lei. Trim the excess ribbon for a more finished look.