Editor's Picks: It's Never Too Early To Think Summer

Ah, summer. Beach umbrella. Piña colada. Cheeseburger. In the distance, reggae music jingles happily. What other time of year can we get away with doing nothing but soaking up the sun’s rays and enjoying good food, family and friends? In the summertime, people turn up the heat with backyard barbecues, pool parties, corporate picnics and other outdoor events. And the fun-in-the-sun celebrations go from Memorial Day to Labor Day and on every weekend and vacation day in between.

Those summertime events will be here before you know it, so flip the calendar to May and think “summer” to start generating fresh, creative ideas to help support your clients’ outdoor, summertime events and activities. To help you be prepared to offer them the latest in summertime and backyard products, we asked suppliers what’s trending in this product category.

Carrie Lewis, marketing/communication manager for Clearwater, Florida-based supplier BIC Graphic NA, says summer seems to bring its own set of trends. “We see retro color palettes like neon and throwback designs as being big for summer 2020,” she says. “Wearable plastics that are BPA-free, like sunglasses, and sunscreens that are coral-reef safe, are budget-friendly promotional items that will appeal to the masses looking to have fun in the summer months.”

Manassas, Virginia-based supplier BamBams also sees a return of retro products this summer. Benn Chazan, vice president of sales, says these “re-born” products include the fanny pack, since purses and bags are now almost always subject to inspection at large, public venues. “Cooking and kitchenware are also gaining attention as summer staples,” Chazan adds. “These make sense as summer ‘must-haves’ since so much time is spent grilling and entertaining.”

Summertime basics such as can coolers, custom-imprinted sunglasses, and portable grills and coolers are also making a comeback, according to Julie Kazahaya, senior director of sales for Pacoima, California-based supplier International Merchandise Concepts. “These types of promotional products are used for company barbecues, tailgate parties and housewarming leave-behinds,” she says.

What’s great about these summertime basics is they cover a broad price range, so you can accommodate different corporate budgets. “Bundling complementary products together, like a t-shirt and sunglasses, can be a great way for your customers to get added brand exposure for a minimal added cost,” Lewis says.

Kevin Hagan, vice president of sales for St. Louis, Missouri-based supplier Incentive Concepts, says he has found employers using games and other products for teambuilding workshops, company picnics and the like to boost corporate culture. “Corporations will often decorate games and distribute them as achievement awards—providing the recipient a visual reminder of who the gift came from,” Hagan adds.

Festivals, fairs and concerts are another good market to target in the summer months, Lewis says. “From drinkware at the venue to special VIP package bundles, there are promotional opportunities for almost any budget,” she adds. “Summer is inherently fun, so suggest promos that help evoke that good feeling.”


For the creative home cook or culinary foodie, the Salt & Straw Ice Cream Cookbook offers a simple recipe for an ice cream base that takes five minutes to make. From there, you can add ingredients to whip up some of the ice cream company Salt & Straw’s most innovative flavors such as: Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons, Roasted Strawberry and Toasted White Chocolate, and Buttered Mashed Potatoes and Gravy. This cookbook, which can be personalized for your client, also shows the reader how to create custom flavors.

The Book Company  /  PPAI 218850, S7  /  www.thebookco.com


Prolonged sun exposure can lead to problems, not just for your skin but for your eyes, too. Protect them by wearing sunglasses daily. These In & Out Sunglasses feature a classic design in a variety of eye-catching colors, plus they are BPA-free and the UV400 protective lenses are scratch-resistant. Imprint the temple to help any brand stand out at summertime events.

BIC Graphic NA  /  PPAI 114187, S13  /  www.bicgraphic.com


What’s a pool party or backyard event without a barbecue grill? The perfect accompaniment to that grill is the Grill Marks BBQ Tool Set, which includes a spatula, tongs, fork and knife—all crafted of 440 stainless steel. This handy set is conveniently packed in a black nylon carrying case with a buckle closure for on-the-go grilling. Logo customization is available on the case’s leather patch.

Sarge International  /  PPAI 354321, S3  /   www.sargeknives.com


Remember when aluminum tumblers were all the rage? They’re back. The 16 oz. Aluminum Beer Tumbler is unbreakable and keeps drinks icy cold. Available in nine colors with 3D-etched engraving. A great giveaway for outdoor events, swim parties, picnics and summer festivals.

Payne Manufacturing Canada Limited  /  PPAI 209947, S2  /   www.paynemfg.com


Grilling on the go has never been more convenient than with the Broil King Porta-Chef Grill. This grill’s sturdy legs quickly snap into place, and the stainless-steel burner provides the same exceptional cooking results as a full-size grill. From camping to tailgating to pool parties, this grill is a great choice, allowing you to cook delicious meals for the whole family or a feast for friends.

Incentive Concepts  /  PPAI 212912, S10  /  www.incentiveconcepts.com


Outdoor cooks need extra protection from splatters and spills—and they get it all in this Polyester/Cotton Apron. Made of a polyester and cotton blend, the apron comes in assorted colors to match any client’s logo or summertime theme.

BamBams  /  PPAI 255565, S9  /  www.bambams.com


A necessary tool for any serious barbecue cook, the Digital Kitchen/Grilling Thermometer will take the guesswork out of knowing when grilled meats are ready to eat. This instant-read thermometer has a temperature range of 122 to 572 degrees Fahrenheit (but also displays in Celsius). It also has a six-inch stainless-steel probe and a 10-minute auto shut-off to preserve the battery.

Beacon Promotions  /  PPAI 113702, S10  /  www.beaconpromotions.com


Perfect for keeping cool on the go on hot summer days, the O2COOL Pocket Carabiner Personal Fan puts a cool breeze in the palm of your hand. This mini fan is small enough to fit in a purse or pocket, or use the included carabiner to clip it onto your bag handle or belt loop.

BIC Graphic NA  /  PPAI 114187, S13  /  www.bicgraphic.com


Ideal for the beach, a concert in the park or any outdoor event, the four-piece Party Chair includes a comfortable, roomy seat with side table, built-in cooler and umbrella. The six-foot beach umbrella will keep you cool and shaded from the sun. It’s portable, too—the entire set fits into an included carrying bag.

AAA Innovations  /  PPAI 110972, S4  /  www.aaainnovations.com


A compact, simple-to-learn game, the Viva Sol Washer Toss is an outdoor activity that children, parents and seniors can enjoy. The goal is to get the washers into the target cup—but it’s not as easy as it looks. Play against another player or in teams with this set. Eight molded steel washers are included (four blue and four orange); each also functions as a bottle opener. The carrying case is made from solid pine with poplar veneers and a walnut finish, and the hemp-rope handles make it easy to transport the game.

Incentive Concepts  /  PPAI 212912, S10  /   www.incentiveconcepts.com


With a base designed like an American flag, the Areaware Star Spangled Spatula is a natural fit for Independence Day cookouts and summertime backyard barbecues. This spatula is made in the USA and five percent of the sales proceeds are donated to the Penn Abramson Cancer Center.

International Merchandise Concepts   /   PPAI 112198, S7   /   www.imc-miracles.com



Summer is a time when home cooks across the country are firing up the grill for a quick weeknight dinner, festive backyard barbecue bash or relaxing weekend brunch. As the weather heats up, so will grills across the country.

Consider these facts from the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association’s State of the Barbecue Industry consumer survey:

Why do people grill? The top reasons are:

  • Flavor (72%)
  • Lifestyle (52%)
  • Entertainment (40%)
  • Convenience (33%)
  • Health (18%)

When do people grill? The most popular days to grill are:

  • July Fourth (73%)
  • Memorial Day (60%)
  • Labor Day (58%)
  • Father’s Day (45%)
  • Mother’s Day (34%)


When it’s time to relax, reflect or have some fun in the sun, humans are naturally attracted to water, whether it’s backyard pools, lakes or beaches.

  • More than 10.4 million homes in the U.S. have swimming pools (Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, 2019).
  • There are five million inground residential swimming pools in the U.S. Over 40 percent of them are in two states, California and Florida (P.K. Data research).
  • Alaska has the most lakes in the U.S., with over three million. In the contiguous U.S., Minnesota reportedly has 124,662 lake/pond features, while Wisconsin has 82,099 (PolitiFact).

The top 10 most beautiful beaches in the U.S. are, in order of ranking:

  1. Manele Bay, Hawaii
  2. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  3. Nantucket, Massachusetts
  4. Kauna’oa Bay, Hawaii
  5. Clearwater Beach, Florida
  6. Coronado, California
  7. Cape May, New Jersey
  8. Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
  9. East Hampton, New York
  10. Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina

Source: Travel Channel


Brittany Glenn is a Dallas-area based writer and former associate editor of PPB.

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