15 Best Backyard Movie Night Ideas – How to Host a Backyard Movie Night
Who says you have to cram the kids in the car and buy expensive movie tickets? You can skip the cinema lines and set up your own cinema in the comfort of your backyard for an evening the whole family will enjoy. Not only will this fun DIY idea spark some creativity in kids and adults, but it could also be the start of an unforgettable family tradition. Customize your movie experience and make the most of summer with these Ideas for movie nights in the garden.
Coming up with new kid-friendly summer activities can be tough, especially after the first few weeks of summer vacation and the kids start complaining about being bored. Try something new with a movie night in your backyard, which can be as simple or as elaborate as you want. Depending on how much time and money you want to spend, you can have a big 4th of July event where you invite friends and neighbors over, adopt the movie night theme for your kid’s birthday party, or just make it an activity day for everyone. in the family to help assemble, then enjoy the fruits of your labor when the sun goes down.
Ready to throw an award-worthy movie night? We share tips on how to set up a DIY screen and comfy seating arrangements, as well as creative ideas for serving movie theater snacks and summer drinks for kids and adults. Then all you have to do is sit down and select a movie to watch – which admittedly might be the hardest part.
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While you can certainly purchase an outdoor cinema screen for your backyard, it’s also easy to set up your own DIY version with items you already have around the house. For this setup, you will need a shower rod, two plant hooks, and a white curtain or sheet. Mount the rod between the hangers and straighten the curtain so that the film is projected without any distortion.
… or buy a portable projection screen
Alternatively, you can buy a portable (and foldable) projection screen for under $100. This one from Getco Tech makes movie night easy and luxurious with a seamless setup process that takes just minutes and a 100-inch screen with a 160-degree viewing angle. No tools are required, and the frame can be folded down to fit in an included carry bag, meaning you can have movie night in your backyard or at a campsite.
Gather your outdoor theater seats and tables
Once you have the basics (a screen and a projector), you can have fun turning your backyard into the outdoor movie theater of your dreams. If you have outdoor chairs or sofas, dust them off and take them out for the season if you haven’t already. Or, splurge on a classic Adirondack chair that will look great in front of your movie screen as well as in your backyard on a regular summer afternoon.
Shop Adirondack Chairs
Mix and match cozy blankets and pillows
Have the kids scavenger hunt around the house collecting blankets, beanbags, area rugs, pillows, and even pool floats suitable for the outdoors. The best part about using the seats you already have is that you don’t have to buy anything extra to create a comfortable space perfect for a movie marathon. If you prefer not to put your best sheets in the grass, you can also get outdoor blankets which will be very useful during picnics in the park and more.
Shop Outdoor Blankets
Hang up movie night decorations
Once you have the general layout of your movie theater seats (and covers) facing the screen, you can figure out where to install string lights, hanging planters, or anything else you want to incorporate for an extra personal touch. If you’re showing a specific movie for a birthday party or holiday, consider decorating your yard to match the theme!
Shop Watermelon Fairy Lights
Prepare a picnic table with snacks
Everyone has their favorite movie snack which they buy at the concession stand before heading to their seat. Whether it’s sour candy or buttery popcorn, you can easily gift those same treats (for less money!) at your backyard movie night. Mix your family’s favorite candy in a bowl or set up a s’more stand with graham crackers, marshmallows and candy bars. Want to dine out before the show? Try making some of these easy picnic recipes.
FELT LETTER BOARD
Incorporate individual portable concession stands
Whether you have a small crowd gathered for movie night in your backyard, or just want to make it easy for you and the kids to enjoy your snacks and drinks while watching the movie, having a “concession stand” portable (aka a food tray with legs) is a smart hack for your outdoor cinema setup. Use the same trays you would use for breakfast in bed, or find an affordable set on Amazon if you don’t already have one.
Buy Foldable Bamboo Tray Tables
Set up a self-service popcorn stand
Here’s another adorable idea for getting creative with materials you probably already have. To add this easy DIY snack holder to your movie mix, simply pin paper popcorn bags to a trellis. Ta-da! Self-serve snacks that won’t disturb others watching the movie.
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Distribute chocolate bar tickets
While admission to your backyard movie night is free, you’ll want to make sure all the kids have one of those candy bar “tickets” for the after-party. We’ve done the work for you by creating a free template, so all you have to do is print, cut, paste and enjoy.
Get the Movie night ticket printable template.
Just like everyone has their favorite snack for movie night, most of us also have a favorite drink to sip on throughout the movie. Enhance the family’s soda experience with these adorable “sippy” cups that even kids and older adults will love. Attach chalkboard labels to mason jars and personalize them with names to avoid confusion. You can also have everyone decorate their own lids as an afternoon activity that ensures no two cups look alike.
Shop chalkboard labels and liquid chalk markers
While you can of course have regular paper straws available, why not offer these alternatives to old straws as well? Go the extra mile and cut off the tips of the licorice to create sweet sips.
Serving Delicatessen for Adults
If your family’s birthday treat is always cupcakes, then they’ll love this innovative take on the traditional movie snack. Instead of pouring cupcake batter into molds, form gooey balls of unsalted butter, mini marshmallows and plain popcorn, then drizzle with melted chocolate and top with sprinkles. Yum!
Get the Recipe for “Cupcakes” with popcorn.
Mix signature summer drinks
It’s always a good idea to have liquid refreshments nearby for any summer activity, even if the one in question is more likely to happen after the sun goes down. Prepare homemade lemonade, simple cucumber water or a special non-alcoholic concoction and sip back and enjoy.
You can even create signature cocktails and mocktails based on the movie of your choice and display a themed menu on a letter board or mini marquee. Need ideas? To mix together Frozen summer granita or serve a BruNo-Sugar lemonade from We Don’t Talk About.
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