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How to Make a Money Lei for Graduations!

Updated: Apr 2, 2021

Are you looking for the perfect graduation gifts for your graduate? Here's the easy steps how to make a money lei. The money lei is a unique gift and a fun way to give your graduate money that’s in the form of a lei. The neat thing is that it is worn around their neck and presents a fun way to wear their gift. There are many other popular items such as flower leis or a card and bouquet to give to your graduate on their special day. The money lei can be an alternative to the traditional card with money inside that is often given.

For those who don’t know, the giving of lei has deep roots in the Hawaiian culture. The Hawaiian lei is commonly used nowadays in times of celebration, ceremony and especially for graduations by all people. Traditionally, a Hawaiian lei is a real Flower lei like Orchid lei, Plumeria lei or Tuberose lei. In addition there are Green leaf lei like Ti leaf lei or Maile lei. However in recent times money leis have also become very popular and can be a great supplement or alternative to these traditional gifts outlined. Now we would like to show you how you can make your very own money Lei for your graduate!

Credit YouTube: Classy Cheapskate

Here are easy steps that outline how to make a money lei for graduations below. Follow the detailed steps further below for more detailed instruction.

The first thing you will need to do is get the following things:


1. Money Bills

Money - (30-35 Bills - typically all $1 bills but you can use any demonization you’re comfortable with )

2. Ribbon

Ribbon - long enough to string a necklace of desired length typically 38-40 inches in length or longer for bigger individuals.

3. Tape or Hot Glue

NOTE: If you can get newer bills that are still crispy you will have a better outcome. Keep in mind that this does take some time and patience but it is all worth it when you proudly put this Money Lei around the neck of your graduate! Especially if this is the first time your graduate has received a money lei. The excitement and fun of it is something everyone will cherish!

Step 1: Fold the money bills

  1. You will need to fold all your bills in an accordion style.

  2. First take one bill and fold it in half.

  3. Then fold it in half again.

  4. Then fold it in half a 3rd time

  5. Then open your bill all the way flat and choose one side and begin folding it following the same creases you already made but in opposite folding directions. Neatly press each fold like an accordion with opposing directions. Note: do not keep folding in the same direction or you will end up with a rolled tube. You want an accordion look that can still pull out flat by pulling both sides outwards.

  6. Once you finish all folds you want to fold it in half and then choose one side and tape the outermost edges together. You should start to see a circular shape forming which is what you want. You have now finished 1 bill and should resemble the images below. Simply repeat these steps on all remaining bills.

Step 2: Tape the money bills to enclose the Ribbon

  1. You will now begin to string and tape your bills enclosing the Ribbon creating the necklace.

  2. On all bills you should have one side that is not taped yet. This is the side that you will string your ribbon through. Place the ribbon near the center of the circle and then tape the outer edge the same way you did the first side in step 1 in the first phase. Now the ribbon should be trapped in the middle of the crease and near the center of the circle. Now Slide the bill down to the end of the ribbon. Make sure to knot the end of the ribbon so it keeps the first bill firmly in place.

  3. Repeat this with all the other bills and slide each one down one by one after taping the second side around the ribbon.

  4. In addition, some people use normal white or colored paper that is cut to the same size as a dollar bill and folded into the same accordion pattern to alternate with the bills. This will allow one to use less money if you're making multiple leis for your graduate and their friends. This also creates a nice visual combination and pattern of colors too.

Step 3: Tie the two ends of the Ribbon

  1. Complete your Money Lei

  2. Once you have slid all your bills down the ribbon you are almost done. In most cases 30-35 bills will be long enough you can test it out by holding it around your neck in front of a mirror to see how it’s length drapes and how everything looks.

  3. Tie a knot with both ends of the ribbon to complete the Leis Necklace.

  4. Depending on what ribbon you use, a helpful tip is to burn the edges of the ribbon with a flame to prevent fraying of the ribbon.


Now you have learned how to make a Money Lei! Remember to have fun in the process and cherish the moment when you place your hand-made Money Lei onto your graduate! Feel free to share this link with others to enjoy too. There’s nothing better than receiving a lei for graduation and when it’s a Money Lei it stands out proudly and most of all it’s fun! For those looking for other popular graduation Leis such as Orchid Leis or Double Orchid Leis please check out our website where you can find more great graduation gift ideas.

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