Guest Blog Writer: Jojo, she fell in love with Lanikai back in 2006 on her first trip to Hawaii. Her favorite product is the Hawaiian Lavender Facial Spray. “A spritz on my face is refreshing yet relaxing…not to mention, the spray is wonderful when I get a little too much sun!”

If you’ve ever visited Hawaii (or if you’re lucky to be living here) you’re sure to have seen the Ti plant (Kī in Hawaiian).

This miracle plant is frequently used as an accent plant in landscaping and has played a very important role in our gardens for centuries.

Their dramatic foliage is eye-catching and ranges in color.

It is known as the tree of kings, and many believe that it is a good luck plant.

Ti is heat tolerant and bathes in the Hawaiian sun, coming in a rainbow of colors, a painter’s palettes dream. “Oahu Rainbow” and “Firebrand” brilliantly describe their show-stopping foliage displays. Ti thrives in moist, semi-shaded areas in wet valleys and forests on all of the major Hawaiian Islands except Kaho’olawe.

If you’re thinking of planting Ti, the Cordyline species are known to do best as an indoor potted plant.

Ti leaves are the perfect material for wrapping and carrying items.

This past Christmas, one of my dearest friends, Jen, presented me with a gift so beautifully wrapped which I kid you not, was nearly impossible to open!

Jen and I met back in 2010. I lived in a studio attached to the main house where she lived. I began to babysit her kids and we all formed a tight bond. So much so that Emma, her daughter, ended up being my flower girl at my wedding! When the military moved us, I really wasn’t sure when the next time we would see each other would be…just so happens, in 2019, the island pulled us back and welcomed us with a warm embrace.

Recently, (while practicing safe social distancing- of course), Jen taught me the art of Makana.

You can use this method to create a waste-free gift wrap for Father’s Day, any Holiday Season, or celebration for that matter!

Throughout the years, Jen has taught her kids to take care of the Aina (land). They have learned invaluable skills and life lessons through the Aina in Schools Program by Kokua Hawaii Foundations, created by Jack Johnson. The curriculum covers topics from nutrition, gardening, waste reduction, and beyond.

“Have fun foraging” Jen says.  “If you don’t have Ti leaves in your area, don’t despair! Grab your garden clippers and a dirt friendly tote and find some gift-worthy greenery in your backyard, woods, or your favorite park.”

You’ll notice two styles of wrapping, one for small gifts and another for larger items or a bundle.

Wrap for small gifts:

  • Lay a deboned ti leaf shiny side down and roll the kī cutting kī until you reach the stem.
  • Split the end of the stem down the middle until it reaches the leaf. The two halves will be used to tie a knot. Carefully twist the stems with your fingers.
  • Wrap the Stems around the gift.
  • Tighten with a knot.

Let Mother Nature take center stage! Use accents as Jen did to add color to the wrap.

Wrap for large gifts:

The word Pu`olo, means bundle or parcel. Pu`olo has been used since ancestral Hawaiian times to bundle food and other items.

For this style of wrapping, you’ll need 8-10 large la’i (ti) leaves.

  • Have each of the ti leaves facing out.
  • Use floral wire, or as strong twist tie to hold the stems together.
  • Spread the ti leaves (bottom side up) so they lay flat on the ground/work surface.
  • Place your items on each ti leaf, close to the stems, then carefully gather the ends of each leave together in the center and secure them together with floral wire, twist tie, twine, station ribbon, or perhaps bakers twine…be creative and resourceful!

My dear friend Jen, Mahalo for being such a beautiful soul, your Makana (gift) of friendship is one I treasure dearly.


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