Graduation Leis

Every year I am asked to create leis for family and friends that are graduating. From PreK promotion to college, it’s been fun creating each and every one. It wasn’t easy at first, and there were some years that I declined orders (it can get crazy), but with a little practice I love coming up with new ways to celebrate peoples accomplishments. Hopefully this tutorial will be of use to those who always wondered how to do these!




  • Clear cellophane gift wrap
  • Curl Ribbon (in your choice of color)
  • Candy
  • Tape
  • Scissors


  • Money
  • Construction Paper
  • Beads (to hold papers in place)


  1. Cut your cellophane: A teen/adult lei I cut 50″ x 10″ if I am wrapping Starburst or Airhead candy. Adjust as needed for size of recipient and what type of candy you’re wrapping. Example, if you’re wrapping a chip lei (like Cheetos) you’ll want enough cellophane to go around one and a half times.
  2. Plan your design: I like to lay out my candy and color coordinate the pieces. This way I can decide the middle point, make the pattern symmetrical, and not be caught by surprise mid crafting. You only need to leave 1″ in-between candy to account for space lost when twisting the cellophane & attaching ribbon. I’ve also found it easier to attach small candies together, like Starburst, so that they stay together when rolling the cellophane.
  3. Wrap Candy: Fold one end over the backside of the candy, tape, then snugly fold the other end over and tape down. Snugly wrapping the pieces in will give your lei a nice, clean look and ensure the candy stays in place.. just in case your graduate jumps in excitement.
  4. Attach Ribbon: Cut out 12″ pieces, tie twice, and curl with your scissors. Cut out longer pieces for your ends so that the graduate can adjust the length as needed.
  5. Attach Accessories: Fold paper or money into fans (see below), tie on, and curl ribbon ends.

Paper Fans

  1. Using dollar bills, or construction paper cut out the size of dollar bills, fold your paper (lengthwise) in half 3-4 times. The number of times you fold is purely preference, three will get you a fan with wider panels than the one that is folded four times.
  2. Unravel your paper. Refold, flipping the paper over to the alternate side each time, and creasing the folds so that they’re crisp. The end result should be an accordion type paper.
  3. Fold and crease your paper in half, height wise. Tape two ends together, at the tips, leaving space at the center. Repeat on the other end.
  4. To attach fans (front facing) to a candy lei, cut a 12″ ribbon and run each end of thebWr0O3CFRpWCm2w1eqJeQQ ribbon through the spaces in the center of the fan. Then run the ends of the ribbon through a bead (this keeps the fan in place on the lei). Place the fan where you want it to be on the lei and tie it in place, then curl the end of the ribbon.
  5. Want to make a money lei? Simply create your paper fans and run a ribbon through their centers, using one bead as a spacer in-between each fan. It takes some calculating how many paper fans you need, depending on the amount of money you’re giving, but I use 60-65 fans for an adult lei (mixing paper and money).