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Graduation Money Ribbon Lei Tutorial

My eldest daughter graduated from high school earlier this month. We were surprised when her high school announced they were having an in-person ceremony. We were prepared just for a virtual one. On the day of the ceremony, it was sunny and hot out on the football field, but it felt good to be outdoors and to be able to see our firstborn graduate from high school.

Why Am I Making My Daughter a Graduation Lei

Well, there is a story to this. During her junior high graduation, I got her nothing. I felt like such a bad mom because all these kids were adorned with orchid leis, bouquets, and graduation presents. I was frankly surprised because I don’t even remember getting a graduation ceremony in middle school and now kids are celebrated for finishing middle school. I remember we did have some informal recognition ceremony with all the students in the MPR/Lunchroom but that was it. Don’t all kids graduate from middle school? No one told me that I’m expected to shower my kid with adornments for finishing middle school.

Ridden with guilt and regret, I was determined not to make the same mistake. For months, I had collected images and tutorials on how to make her a money ribbon lei. I found a graduation money lei that I really liked from Etsy and used that as an inspiration. I had the time and I’m somewhat crafty, so I decided to make my own. Hopefully, my daughter will think it’s more meaningful because her mommy made it with her own lovingly bare hands.  If you don’t have the time or don’t want to experiment, I really like the leis from this seller on Etsy

Braided Ribbon Lei

For supplies, all you need are grosgrain ribbons. I used the 5/8″ for the lei look that I wanted. I chose navy and silver for her school colors.

For making the ribbon lei, I referenced the below 2 videos. They’re essentially making the same style lei, but each video offers a slightly different view. I found watching both helpful.

The ribbon lei was actually pretty easy to make. I bought extra ribbons thinking that I would have to try it a few times to get it correct but to my surprise, the first one I made turned out beautifully. The trouble I had was ending the lei. It grew so long before I even knew it.

Money Flowers

For the money flowers, I referenced the below video. I really liked these particular flowers because they remind me of plumerias from Hawaii. I used $2 bills. Each flower requires 3 bills. I made a total of 6 flowers.

The folding of the money flowers are actually the most labor-intensive. I used some thread to secure the flowers together and left the threads long enough so I could tie them to the ribbon lei.

My Finished Money Graduation Lei

Ta da! I was actually surprised that it turned out so nicely on my first and only attempt.

I think I could’ve done a better job fastening on the money flowers. Some of them became loose after awhile and I had to retighten the threads. Also, I think I may have made it just a tad bit too long for my daughter. But, overall, I’m happy with my finished product.

Oh, and additionally, I did get her an orchid lei, flowers, and balloons to compensate for middle school. Thank goodness for Safeway because their floral department truly is a one-stop shop for graduation gifts.



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