Jemma’s Nanea Inspired Paper Hawaiian Lei DIY

Aloha, Nanea! We’ve been anticipating your arrival, and girl, you were worth the wait! From the historical Pearl Harbor scene to the comfort of Jemma’s room, welcome!


Yes, it’s true – American Girl has launched a new BeForever doll, Nanea Mitchell, a Hawaiian-American 9-year-old who lives in Hawaii during a pivotal time in American history, 1941. Formerly, this era was represented by Molly McIntire, but since her retirement I’ve been excited to see how American Girl would introduce a new character to the historical World War 2 times. Pearl Harbor was the perfect choice!

Nanea embodies the Hawaiian spirit of kindness and aims to help her family, friends, and neighbors in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor bombing. Jemma and I have just started reading Nanea’s story, Growing Up With Aloha, and can’t wait to learn more about Hawaii, Pearl Harbor, and World War 2. We love the historical dolls … they’re so full of learning opportunities. I know, I know, such a homeschool mom thing to say! Jemma seems extra in love with Nanea and her Hawaiian story though, despite my “let’s turn this in to a history lesson” vibe. I can’t wait to see what Nanea teaches us both! 




Upon arrival, Jemma, Mimi, and I decided to put our American Girl resourcefulness into action and make a girl and doll size lei to officially welcome Nanea. It was a fun and simple DIY and we all love how these simple accessories turned out.

If you’d like to make little leis too, here’s how!

American Girl Hawaiian Lei DIY



Use the scissors and construction paper to create girl and doll size flowers. You can search online for a template or free hand it like we did since no two flowers are alike :) Perfection not necessary! Use the tapestry needle to poke a hole in the center of each flower for easy threading. 

Thread your tapestry needle (a duller needle that has a larger eye) with the yarn and start your lei pattern using the cut straws as spacers. We used one straw spacer on the doll lei and two on the girl sized one.

When you’ve reached your desired length and/or fullness, cut the yarn and tie a bow to create a necklace. You’re done! Don your lei and gift your doll size one to your Nanea or any other doll who is ready to embrace the Hawaiian spirit! 








Want to see more of Nanea’s world? Here it is! Last week we visited the American Girl store and saw it all in person. Quality, detailed, and gorgeous describe it well. 

What is your favorite piece from Nanea’s collection? Are you going to DIY leis soon? Plan on it, it was so much fun!

A big thank you to American Girl for gifting Jemma their latest BeForever doll, Nanea! We both truly love her!

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