Outdoor Fun and Games
A dozen products to help you, your friends, and your family enjoy summer while it lasts
You've worked hard all year. It's time for a little R&R with friends and family. Here are some unusual ideas for a stylish and entertaining Fourth of July.
Why should playing cards be relegated to some smoky back room? The Outdoor Game Table from Coleman resists rust, repels water, and can be folded in half when not in use. It is sized for eight players with eight chip trays.
About $150, Overstock.com
Sometimes it seems impossible for kids to stay outdoors for even a few minutes without getting dirty. This clever and inexpensive shower hooks up to a regular garden hose and heats water to 86 degrees using solar power. Sunlight hits the base's transparent lid, and then, similar to a green house, solar radiation is trapped inside, heating 16 gallons of water in two hours, enough for eight consecutive two-minute showers. It is 6 feet 6 inches high and delivers 9 psi.
About $200, Hammacher Schlemmer
Staked in the ground, floated on a pool, or set on a table, these 10-inch solar-powered orbs add an interesting twist to party decor. A solar panel and internal battery powers two LEDs, which slowly turn blue to pink to red to green. The globes sense darkness, and will stay lit up to eight hours. During the day, you must remove the casing from the solar panel to charge the lights with the rays of the sun, so plan ahead to ensure a evening's worth of mood lighting.
About $50, Hammacher Schlemmer
Trampolines are fun, pools are fun, so why not combine the two? The 13-Ft Big Wave has a solid mat, which can be sprayed with a garden hose to capture water so young bouncers can drum up sky-high splashes. It can also be used dry.
About $1,700, Super-Fun Trampolines
A seaworthy spin on traditional table tennis, this floating table has a hard surface for solid slap shots and soft sides for safety. It can be used in a pool (or any body of water for that matter) or, if you prefer to stay dry, on a patio table. It comes with floating paddles, a net, and three balls.
About $80, Brookstone
Whether you remember necking at the drive-in as a teen or just think it would be fun to watch a movie under the stars, the CineBox Home Backyard Theater System is for you. You can choose the complete package, which includes a 9-foot-by-5-foot inflatable screen, a digital projector, a DVD player, a sound mixer, an LED light, all cables, a carrying case, and a blower fan, or purchase the screen and projector separately. The screen takes about 30 seconds to inflate and weighs 8 pounds when deflated. About $2,200, Open Air Cinema
A killer music library is no good for an outdoor party without the proper speakers. This seaworthy gadget should do the trick. A small transmitter hooks up to your sound system (which can be your iPod, phone, or anything else with Bluetooth capability, as well as your computer), and transmits music wirelessly to the speaker. The speaker is submersible in up to 3 feet of water and takes AA batteries.
About $40, Nextar
If a few sprinkles appear during your party, or the sun shines a little too brightly, this canopy is ideal. It includes four galvanized stakes and has a steel frame.
About $108, Sears
Awkward speeches shouldn't be confined to weddings. Make announcements, direct your guests, and play live and recorded music with the ION Block Rocker Speaker System. The aluminum-and-wood amplifying system includes four inputs for connecting microphones, guitars, keyboards, or CD/MP3 players, as well as an integrated universal iPod dock. Its rechargeable battery lasts 12 hours, and it is on wheels for easy portability. With this two-way speaker, your Sly and the Family Stone covers will rock the neighbors up to 150 feet away.
About $170, Amazon.com
Board games are plain boring compared to playing their life-sized versions outdoors. Lynx Leisure offers everything from Pick-Up Sticks to Snakes and Ladders and Twister and Connect Four, in addition to the more well-known giant checkers and chess.
About $50, Lynx Leisure
You probably have plenty of photos from parties of years past, but were any of them taken underwater? Perfect for the beach or pool, the 5-megapixel Digital Camera Swim Mask can operate at a depth of 15 feet. Its eyepieces have integrated crosshairs that allow you to line up shots (the shutter button is integrated into the mask), and an LED inside tells you whether you're shooting photos or video, both of which can be downloaded later.
About $100, Hammacher Schlemmer