Leis are traditional Hawaiian necklaces made from a variety of materials. In Hawaii and some other parts of the United States, fresh ones made from plumeria or orchids are often used to celebrate major events like wedding and graduations. Permanent leis made from other materials, like shells, feathers, or bone, are also available. In Hawaii, it is relatively easy to buy a lei; in other parts of the world, it may require some thinking ahead. You may be able to order them through a local florist or online.
If you want to buy a lei in Hawaii and you are staying there, any number of florists or roadside stands can assist you. Many Hawaiian florists are happy to help pick out the perfect lei, or to customize one for your particular needs. Leis are made fresh very day, so you can be confident that it will look its best. The florist will also give you instructions on how to care for the lei, including how to store it properly.
You should buy your lei at the airport if you would like to take it from Hawaii to another location. Agricultural products from Hawaii are heavily restricted because some of them may carry insects or diseases that have not yet reached the mainland. If you buy a lei from a florist in the airport, you can ensure that it will not be confiscated on the other side. Most of Hawaii's airports have a wide selection of beautiful leis for you to choose from, although the prices are usually higher than those on the outside.
To buy one in a location other than Hawaii, you will need to consult your local florist. Florists on the west coast of the United States, especially in California, generally carry leis year round, although in a limited selection. If you have an upcoming major event, you can pre-order one with your florist to ensure that it will be available. If your florist does not normally carry leis, check to see if one can be special ordered.
In an area where you cannot buy a lei locally, you can turn to the Internet. Many Hawaiian florists have websites that will allow you to order products that can be shipped to you via next day air. On the website, you can specify the type of lei you want, along with the length and the date you need it. Plan on giving a florist several days of warning if you are placing a large order to ensure that it can be filled.