Fresh flowers and leis from Hawaii to any US state can be ordered from a shop specializing in this service. A floral bouquet from Hawaii can be a wonderful and unusual gift for someone, especially if that person loves the islands but rarely is able to go there. Another gift possibility would be a lei to say welcome and symbolize affection for a house guest who hasn’t visited in a long time.

The Flowers

In Hawaii, a traditional custom is to drape this garland of lovely flowers over the shoulders upon the person’s arrival. Orchids are popular for leis to be shipped to the mainland, as are carnations. The scent of both flowers are light. Carnations are particularly durable.

When ordering from a Hawaiian florist, the lei might include a variety of flowers or just one kind if the customer requests this. The customer will learn which flowers are unsuitable because they turn brown too quickly, even with two-day shipping. In addition, state laws prohibit shipping of certain plants to the mainland.

Some flowers cannot be included because they do not ship well. That tends to be true of the most fragrant flowers, such as tuberose and plumeria. Yet this may be perfectly fine when the lei will be kept inside a guest room. A more subtle fragrance may be preferable.

Illustration for article titled Bringing the Tradition of the Hawaiian Lei to the Mainland to Welcome a House Guest


The hosts might briefly consider an artificial lei from a local shop, especially if it’s winter. However, there’s nothing like the authenticity of a real lei from Hawaii with no artificial flowers. The guest will be charmed, having never expected such an unusual welcoming gift.

Customers of a shop such as Alii Flowers can expect the lei to be created from floral varieties grown locally. A distinct advantage of this particular shop is the use of only local orchids, whereas some stores bring the orchids in from Asia.

The Lei Tradition

The lei tradition originated when Hawaiians made these gifts for Polynesian voyagers to the islands. Now, tourists might receive a lei at their hotel. Hawaii residents also give these floral arrangements for special occasions like birthdays and college graduation. Each island has its own official lei.

The guest might be presented with a short informational piece detailing the history of the lei and the proper etiquette. For example, Hawaiians consider removing the lei in front of the person who gave it to be rude. The guest will want to do this in the privacy of the guest room.

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