Fresh flower leis are beautiful!  But for those of us on the mainland coming across a fresh flower lei isn’t easy, and the shipping cost to have them shipped from Hawaii can be costly.  While there are tons of faux flower leis available (ranging from silk to plastic), kukui nut or shell leis are a great (authentic) alternative to garnish your guests for your next lu’au. 

Kukui is Hawaii’s state tree and the leis made from the dried nuts of the tree were worn by royalty, politicians and other important figures in Hawaiian history.  Both men and women wear kukui leis.  They make a great favor for your guests to take home.  They range in price but you can buy a fairly nice one for about $8 (hand made in Hawaii kukui leis start at about $30 each).

Shell leis are also a fun alternative and are generally less expensive than kukui nut leis.  They are usually sold by the dozen.  You can give each person one or layer a few together.

Kukui nut leis
$5 each – http://hawaiistores.com/kukuinutleis.html
$7 each – http://www.alohagiftsfromhawaii.com/kukuinut.html
$9 each – http://www.rainbowhawaii.com/clerherforse.html
$13 each (hand painted with flowers) – http://hawaiiandays.com/KNH/shop_kukui_nut_lei.htm
$29-35 – http://www.iakamai.com/islandproducts/buy_kukui_lei.html

Shell leis 

$4 per dozen – http://hawaiistores.com/shellleis.html
$7 per dozen – http://www.hulasupplycenter.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=75
$20 per dozen – http://www.hawaiianluauparty.com/product.cfm?productid=159
$3 each – http://www.waveshoppe.com/images/Hawaiian-Leis/seashell-leis.jpg

For larger events, most of the sites listed above offer bulk discounts.  There are also other wholesale suppliers online who sell in bulk, but the minimum quantity is generally higher.

*Shown above is a dark brown kukui nut and yellow shell lei, available for $9 at http://us.st11.yimg.com/us.st.yimg.com/I/accredited_1993_177125745