Outdoors Takes Center Stage at 2013 International Pool, Spa, Patio Expo

A special report by Giftware News columnist Marilyn Nason

Badmitton sets from Water Sports, LLC (streammachine.com)

"The family that plays together stays together" certainly emerged as the overall theme of the annual International Pool, Spa, Patio Expo in mid-November in Las Vegas. In the past few years this show has clearly identified food alone is not the only reason the backyard has become the ideal place for everyone of every age and interest to focus on spending quality time in a lifestyle that increasingly encompasses not only food, but also all-age activities, entertaining and family/friends togetherness.

More varied types of relaxing activities in or near the pool are emerging as not only enjoyable but totally fashionable for the youngest to the oldest to enjoy. Exhibit displays at the show offered countless exciting tips on ways to fully experience backyard living today at its best

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Great for young beginners to learn how to play the game of pool with confidence this cue from CueStix International (cuestix.com) features an attached cue ball.

As the 2013 trade show year comes to a close, backyards, patios, the beach and stadium parking for tailgating have all emerged as perfect venues for young and old to enjoy the outdoors.

Cascade" Acrylic Rainbow Drinkware from Merritt International (merrittusa.com)

For the more athletically and or competitively-inclined, water and backyard sports were shown as diverse as age and ability can conquer, with badminton and other ball sports, darts, table tennis now available in every price range and ability challenge level

Indicative of consumer interest in expanding their variety of potential activities and entertaining (even on the most modest budget), food preparation and attractive, colorful serveware for the backyard introduced at the show expanded on that already growing category of tailgating and partying items increasingly important at both gift and outdoor trade shows in recent years.

From grills to pizza ovens to rainbow-hued sturdy attractive tableware, thermos and water bottles, the show identified the almost limitless depth and breadth of available items introduced at this show this year as ideal for self-purchases, as well as welcome gift-giving when invited for a backyard party.

Packaged cleaner kits from Flitz International (flitz.com)

Exciting options for outdoor d├ęcor included well-designed clocks (some shaped like sailfish and dolphins); barometers, thermometers, humorous signage, fun/functional garden figures and decorative planters.

Not only has home decor become equally important for backyards, but aromatherpy, too, is beginning to play an interesting role as well. Several retailers offered all natural spa and bath crystals/beads, humidifiers, candles and diffusers in dozens of exotic scents.

While every backyard may not include a family room with professional billiard table, those who do found the perfect item to help the novice learn to play pool without destroying the table top-thanks to a specially-designed ball to replace the cue stick tip during the challenging learning period.

Colorful Galaxy balls from TRC Recreation (txrec.com)

Ever mindful of pool safety were several items including lockable wristband for youngsters and headband for swimmers. Not to be outdone by the mattress industry that touts its ability to offer mattresses that retain the shape of the individual sleeper, several exhibitors showed colorful polyethylene nylon and mesh floats almost replicating this same ability to create the floater's shape. Some styles even offered room-for-two space.

Wisely, the industry has not overlooked one critical, ever-present basic of outdoors living/entertaining: cleanup. Exhibitors showed attractively packaged outdoor fabric/metal furniture care kit, as well as BBQ grill care kits, not only perfect for self-use but as welcome gifts.