Last week, I had celebrated my cousin’s high school graduation in Virginia. Little did she know, I had a surprise for her when the whole family and I were waiting for her outside the stadium.

DIY: Money Lei for Graduates!

So what did I want to give to my cousin for her graduation, besides money? I remembered that it is a tradition in Hawaii that graduates receive a lei. And I had also heard that this same tradition was mimicked by some in California. So I decided that instead of giving her a bouquet of flowers (like everyone else does), I would make her a lei out of fresh flowers. The question then became, what flowers should I use? I went on Google to see what flowers worked best. I knew that orchids were out of the question (as they are expensive!). I found a video on YouTube by Milani, and it was exactly what I needed. She was a lifesaver!

Below are the steps that I took to create a lei with carnation flowers.



-sturdy string (crochet thread, classic10, natural)
– long needle with a big enough eye that allows the string to go through
– scissors
– tote filled with 1/4″ of water for your flowers
– carnations of any color! (15 carnations = 1 lei, for a petite person)
– water bottle spray
– clear plastic bag
– magic fingers!

Gather your materials.  First, start by pinching off the stem of the carnations (stem=peduncle).  You want to first make sure you keep the “Sepal (small leaves under the flower)” part of the carnations.

Next, place all the trimmed carnations into a tub, filled with less than 1/4″ of water, to keep them fresh.

Then, lay out the string and see how long you want the lei to look on yourself.  I had about 62 inches of string, which I folded in half to give the actual length of 31  inches.  The reason for this was because I wanted to make sure the string is extra sturdy and hold the carnations in place.

Then,  tie a knot at the end about three times to make sure that the carnations do not go anywhere.

Start stringing the carnations by piercing through the green stem end of the carnation. Pull the needle through the center of the carnation (this may be tough, so be careful not to prick yourself – as I did once, err..twice.).

Once you’ve got the carnation through, slide the carnation carefully to the end of the knot of the string, and start on the next one.  Read carefully, when adding the second carnation and sliding it down to the first one, make sure the green stem of the second carnation is carefully hidden in the flower of the first carnation.  You want to minimize the look of the green stem.  Even if you allow some of the green stem, it just looks more aesthetically appealing if there is less of the green stem showing.  See below:

Now that you know the process, continue to add additional carnations.  You can alternate the colors to give it a unique look, or add 3-4 more colors, to give it a wow factor.  I have to admit, I was anxious about how it would turn out with 5 different colors.  The grocery store had a limited selection of carnations.  But after I sewed each of the carnations on the string, and tied the last one into a knot, I couldn’t help but to be pleased and wowed with the combination of colors.

Once I completed the leis, I placed the two leis into a clear plastic bag and sprayed water onto the carnations.  I tied the bag and placed them in the refrigerator carefully, close to the door, and not in the back.  I was told by the florist, not to keep them in the back of the refrigerator, otherwise it would be too cold for the carnations and they would wilt faster because of the ice.

About 4.5 hours later, I had to transfer them to the cooler for our 5 hour car ride to the graduation.  I took the bags with me inside the stadium, then took the lei out of the bags.  I was able to wring the water off very carefully and lightly, and allowed the lei to air dry on the seats.  I took them with me to meet up with my cousin.

The look on her face, priceless.  She loved them!  See the family picture below 🙂

Total cost of materials: > $30.00 for 2 leis
– 6 bouquets of 6 = $24
– 1 roll of crochet strings $1.49 (used a 50% off Michael’s coupon)
– 1 pack of long needles $1.99
– scissors (owned)
– tub of any kind (owned)



BUT WAIT, there’s more! DIY ~ money lei for graduates



2 Comments on “pretty carnation lei ~ for graduates

  1. Pingback: DIY: money lei ~ for the graduate – sunshinebelinda's Blog

  2. I am fond of DIY flower. It makes you think hard to have an amazing ideas. It also enhances your creativity. Thanks for sharing it.

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