DIY Graduation Occasions

DIY Graduation Lei: How to Make a Lei with Fresh Flowers

Graduation Flower Lei

Graduation ceremonies are filled with lots of time-old traditions: walking on stage to get a diploma or degree, “Pomp and Circumstance” on the loudspeakers, moving the tassel to the other side of the cap, and, finally, throwing graduation caps in the air as everyone cheers and celebrates the grads’ hard work. Graduation ceremonies are a time for celebration, pride, and excitement. But there is another tradition that anyone can participate in if you have a loved one celebrating their graduation: giving them a graduation flower lei!

Learn how to make a flower lei for your graduate below.


Lei History and Etiquette

Polynesian voyagers brought the lei to Hawaii when they took their journey from Tahiti using only the stars above their heads and canoes below their feet. Leis were constructed of different things – flowers, leaves, shells, seeds, feathers, or even animal bones. One type of lei, the Maile lei, was used by chiefs of opposing tribes to signify a peace agreement. Leis have a rich history in Hawaii and even have their own holiday. May 1st is May Day to some, but in Hawaii, it’s Lei Day!

Today, leis are gifted for many different reasons and are simply a symbol of someone’s love and affection. For this reason, a lei should never be refused or denied when it’s being gifted. The lei should be draped around the shoulders, hanging down in the front and the back. Giving a graduation flower lei to a graduate in your life is a good way to show them how much you love them and how proud you are of their hard work.


How to Make a Flower Lei

So you’ve decided you want to give a lei to a loved one who is graduating, but you are so proud that you want to go above and beyond and make them a graduation flower lei yourself. The graduate worked really hard to get where they are, but you don’t have to! In a few simple steps, we’ll show you how to make a flower lei like a pro. Your graduate will be Instagram-ready in their homemade fresh flower lei.

Supplies needed

  • Fresh flowers, with approximately 50 blossoms
  • Thread
  • Large needle
  • Scissors
  • Shears (optional, for cutting flowers instead of using scissors)


  1. Cut the stems off about 50 blossoms, leaving about a half an inch of stem on the flower. The most common flower you see at graduation is the plumeria, but any fresh flower will work. Medium flowers with a sturdy stem will be the easiest to work with. (Check out our post on graduation flower arrangements for inspiration!)
  2. Cut a piece of thread 100 inches in length. It will be doubled over, making the lei 40 inches around with five inches at each end to tie it together.
  3. Thread your needle until the thread is halfway through. Tie the ends together in a knot. This knot should act as a stopper when you thread the flowers.
  4. String the first flower on the thread through the center of the flower all the way to the back, pushing the flower all the way down to the bottom of the thread where the knot is.
  5. String the remaining flowers on the thread. You can thread each flower in the same direction, or switch off every other flower, or even add other flowers or leaves to add texture and colors to your lei. It’s up to you to get as creative as you would like!
  6. When you have finished stringing on the flowers, adjust the first and last flower so they sit in the same spot on each side. There should be about five inches of thread at each end.
  7. Tie the ends of the thread in a square knot. Voila! Your fresh flower lei is ready to present to your proud graduate!


At The Bouqs Co., we know there’s no occasion that isn’t made better with fresh flowers, and we’re happy to help you add a personal touch when you congratulate your amazing grad.

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