Aside from volcanoes and beautiful beaches, Hawaii is probably most famous for its fresh flower leis. For hundreds of years, Hawaiians have used leis to share their aloha with family, friends and visitors to the islands. Today, leis are used to honor important guests, celebrate achievements, express love and welcome people to Hawaii.
Flower leis range from simple single orchid designs to premium arrangements with very intricate designs. Dendrobium orchids are commonly used to string leis because are brightly colored, beautifully shaped and very durable. Thanks to dry ice packing and speedy delivery methods, fresh flower leis can be shipped almost anywhere and arrive perfectly fresh. When properly cared for, a lei can last several days in the refrigerator. Single orchid dendrobium leis are the most common variety given to visitors arriving in Hawaii or distributed at large events. They are inexpensive and add a touch of tropical beauty to all occasions. Fancier leis are made up of hundreds of intricately sewn flowers and given at graduations, birthdays and other special occasions. Some of our favorite fancy leis are spirals, feather and Pikky leis.
Stringing leis is a fun, easy and popular activity for all ages, and can be done A long lei needle is threaded with 90 inches of string and about 50 loose orchid heads for a traditional single orchid lei. Stringing your own leis is a great option for large events, fundraisers for hula halaus or just to have the freedom to make leis of different lengths.
Because flower leis last only one day once they are worn, most people end up throwing them in the trash. Some Hawaiians believe it is bad luck to throw away a lei. Instead they prefer to return the flowers to nature by hanging the lei up to dry around the house or snipping the string and casting the flowers into the ocean.
There are almost as many non-perishable leis as there are fresh flower options. Non-perishable leis are a smart choice when you don’t want to worry about refrigeration and fragility of fresh flower leis. Non-perishable leis are also a wonderful keepsake since they always remain as bright and shiny as the day they were first worn. Polished Kukui Nut Leis are probably the most popular non-perishable lei today. Kukui Nuts grow on trees all around Hawaii and leis made of Kukui Nut can be pure black, rich brown and exotic tiger striped. Shell leis are another festive and tropical way to wear a lei. The white shell leis are great for weddings while yellow shell leis offer a sunnier option.
Handmade Yarn Leis are a unique lei style for people and also comfortable and cute on pets. Yarn leis have a ribbon closure, so they are adjustable in length. The “flowers” on the yarn leis are actually expertly crafted ribbons and they come in every color of the rainbow. Different colors represent some of the Hawaiian islands’ most gorgeous flowers such as pikake, kuanoa and plumeria.