Umbrellas accomplish the job when it comes to blazing sun and driving rain, but they are more than just utilitarian objects. You can turn your beach umbrella into an accessory, use umbrellas as unusual objects to decorate for a party or event or turn a rainy day into family enjoyment with an umbrella craft project.
Decorate your own umbrella for personalized protection from the elements. Use acrylic or fabric paint and brushes, stamps, fingers and whatever else you can come up with to create your own original designs. This project is suitable for adults or children with supervision. Leave the umbrella open to dry for 24 hours (or according to the paint label) before using it.
Decorative umbrellas and parasols are available in a wide variety of styles. Oriental umbrellas in particular are useful for decorating because of their beauty, elegance and detail. Hang them upside down in the corners of a room to create a cozy feeling, and display the intricate painting on the top side. Hand them out to guests at outdoor parties when the sun is intense, place them at the ends of rows of chairs for events or place a decorative umbrella in a very large, tall vase or umbrella stand inside your home's entry foyer.
Make your next party a festive affair with handmade cocktail umbrellas. Cut circles about 3 inches in diameter out of construction paper or a lightweight card stock. Cut a slit from the edge of the circle to the center point, and overlap the cut edges slightly to create a cone shape. Glue the edges in place. Decorate the tops of the umbrellas with wrapping paper, paint, glitter and any other craft supplies you like. Poke the tip of a toothpick or wooden skewer through the point of the paper cone, and cover the point with glue and paper or a small bead. Put a decorated umbrella in each of your guests' drinks with a lemon twist or strawberry garnish.
For an outdoor event, large patio umbrellas keep your guests shaded and comfortable, but they can also be part of your party decor if you plan ahead. Try stringing lights up the pole and around the underside of the umbrella for glowing evening lighting. Use silk vines and flowers around the pole and supports for a tropical-looking party decoration, or hang wind chimes and spinners from underneath umbrellas where they aren't in the way.