Thursday, June 20, 2013

Making Plumeria Leis with Kids

We give leis in Hawaii as a way to show our love for others. The Hawaiians and other Polynesian cultures have been sharing beautiful, flower garland leis for generations. The ancient chiefs would exchange leis as a way to show acceptance and peace between different groups. Giving a lei when someone arrives to the islands is a way to say hello and welcome! Giving leis on special occasions like birthdays, Mothers day, and graduations is a way of telling someone you love them and you are proud of them. Leis are also given to say thank you, to say congratulations, and to say goodbye when someone leaves. 
Growing up in Hawaii, I've always enjoyed collecting flowers and making leis for people.  If you live in an area of Hawaii that has a lot of Plumeria trees, then you've probably had the opportunity to teach your kids how to make leis with them! 
All you need is a blossoming Plumeria tree, some string or floss, and long-ish darning needles. I picked up these needles at the local grocery market in the hardware section. I had the kids use the longer ones, even though they were still poky, they could handle them a lot better than the shorter sewing needles. 
We started by picking 2 large grocery bags of Plumerias and Bougainvilleas, and spreading them out on the floor in front of us. You could make a lei with only Plumeria flowers and it would be gorgeous, but since we had a lot of Bougainvillea bushes around, we decided to use the colorful leaves as fillers between the Plumerias.
Measure a string about 3 feet in length then tie a knot at the end. Next use your needle to start threading your flowers through. With the Plumerias, you push the needle through the hole between the pedals and out the stem, like this:
To add Bougainvilleas to your lei, bunch up about 3 or 4 colorful leaves and thread the needle straight through them, like this:
Your lei should start looking like this:
Keep threading your flowers through the string in whatever colors or patterns you desire. 
Once it starts looking like it might be long enough to go over and around someones head, stop to measure it.
Finally, tie off your lei by knotting the two strings together. 

And last, give it to someone you love with a big, warm ALOHA.

Happy first Birthday baby Taya! We love you!