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Make Your Backyard "Staycation" Central!

Surveys show more and more people shortening vacations or foregoing them altogether this summer, due to high gas prices and airfares and other economic concerns.

But that doesn't have to stop your family from having a great time right in your own backyard! No need for summertime blues over this.

"Staycation" has become quite the buzzword this summer, and Senior Editor David Gregg shared ideas on The Early Show Thursday on turning your backyard into a staycation paradise!

He thought about many of the top activities people like to engage in on vacation, then found products that enable you to do the same things at home -- no travel costs required!

Gregg points out that first, you'll need some ground rules. For instance, no Internet use/texting/cell phone calls allowed, except in cases of emergency. No conversations about work or school or what needs to be done around the house. No chores!

Once your family establishes what works for you, you're ready to begin having fun!

Here are some items Gregg recommends to help:

The following product descriptions were prepared with information provided by the manufacturers):


You need an outdoor headquarters, and this low-priced tent is a great place to start. At 11 feet x 9 feet, it sleeps six. If you're concerned about being hot, simply put a small portable air conditioner inside! Many tents today have small openings designed to enable cords/hoses/etc. inside to reach necessary destinations outside.


Of course, all campers need a campfire. This one will also fit right into your patio or deck décor. It combines the classic appeal of weathered terra cotta with a sophisticated twist: fire dancing on tumbled glass! Instead of traditional wood, it uses propane to create a flame that reflects in a bed of tempered, tinted glass. This is a top-of-the-line model, but you can buy outdoor fire pits for as little as $50 from other vendors.


The adults in the group probably want a beverage to accompany those marshmallows and hotdogs being cooked over the fire pit! And since you probably don't have a refrigerator in your backyard, this mini-keg is key to keeping beer cold. Simply drop one of Heineken's "DraughtKegs," which hold 1.33 gallons of beer, into the keg. It will stay cold and fresh for 30 days.


Need some evening entertainment on your staycation? The ultimate portable projector, DVD and music player combo, Epson MovieMate 50 delivers all the big-screen drama, sound and excitement you desire -- just plug, load and play. The projector also works for video games. It has a built-in progressive scan DVD/CD player and dual Dolby 5.1 Digital DTS 8 W stereo speakers. It works with any blank wall or screen and projects DVD movies up to eight-times larger than they would appear on a 40-inch, widescreen.


Speaking of a big screen -- you need a place to play and watch your movie! This screen is 12 feet tall and 11 feet wide. It inflates on its own and is a fun addition to the backyard.


This little machine will turn out fun treats for the kids that they don't typically get at home. Unlike the sno-cone machines that many of us grew up with, this truly is a professional-grade ice shaver. Includes four sets of flavor concentrates and syrups, pour spouts, and dust caps.


What's a vacation without a little golf?! An inclined slope makes this putting green more fun, and even if you don't make your shot, the automatic ball return will help you out!


Wading pools won't cut it when you're on a staycation. This is the easiest pool to assemble on the market. Simply spread out the pool liner on level ground, inflate the top ring, and fill with water. It really is that easy! Fast Set Pools come in sizes ranging from 8 feet to 18 feet in diameter, and 30 inches to 52 inches in height. These pools hold between 639 and 5,894 gallons of water.


Splurge on a wacky new pool toy for the kids. This giant water rocker and lounge comfortably fits two adults or happily occupies three or four kids.


Yep, it's pricey. But it's cheaper than going out of town for a week, and your kids (along with every other child in the neighborhood!) will love it all summer long, not to mention next summer and the one after that! Has two huge slides and a giant pool! Climb up the first stage of the climbing wall and take a ride into the splash pool. Climb up the second stage of the climbing wall and ride the banked curve all the way down.
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