Summer is the best time of the year for setting up fun and regular summer traditions – from joint family vacations, cooking with your kids, or picnic to making a photo journal or a family yearbook. But, above all, summer is the perfect time to enjoy a movie under the stars. So, instead of going to the cinema or looking for drive-in theaters, which can be quite uncommon these days, why not set up your outdoor movie theater for a family backyard movie night? Your kids will love the novelty of watching a movie outside, and you can share the fun by inviting your close family, friends, and neighbors. To top it all off, a backyard movie theater might cost you less than hauling off your whole family to the cinema.
Since this is our favorite, easy to do and cheap summer activity, we have put together a list of everything you need for a fantastic backyard movie night.
Outdoor Movie Screen
Depending on your yard, how permanent you want your project to be, and how much work you are willing to put in it, you have a few options for setting up a backyard movie screen. The easiest and cheapest way is to use a sheet, a canvas drop cloth, or some white tarp and put it on a fence or wall. However, if you don’t even have a clothesline to sling a sheet over, you will probably need a screen.
You can find tutorials online on how to put a temporary backyard movie screen together, in any size you want. If you have the time and nerves, this is a great and inexpensive way to get your outdoor movie screen. However, if you are ready to invest in the experience, you can also buy an outdoor screen which can be hung against a wall or put on a stand.
Get a projector
If you are able to borrow a projector from friends or family whenever you need it that is great, but if you want to make your backyard movie nights a tradition, you need to invest in your own. Outdoor projectors don’t necessarily cost much, so you can check out this list of inexpensive 4K projectors.
It’s not that hard to set up a projector but just make sure that you test your set up ahead of time to make sure that you are not missing any cords or adaptors and everything is running smoothly. Also, don’t forget about the sound. The best and easiest option to hook up to an outdoor home theater is a standard stereo setup.
Comfy chairs, blankets, and pillows
Accommodate your kids, family, and friends with comfortable seating. Make sure you have a stack of pillows and blankets on the ground and if you can add beanbag chairs and lanterns, it would be even better.
To make it fun for everybody, fill inflatable kiddie pools with water for those guests that like to chill during the hot summer days. Depending on what movie you are watching, you can add different props stick to a theme to get everybody quickly in the mood for some summer movie fun.
Bring on the snacks and drinks
Set up the tables towards the rear of the viewing area and bring out some popcorn, snacks, and beverages. Popcorn is a staple during movie nights, so make lots of it and make it in different flavors. Make paper cones so guests can take their popcorn back to their seats.
Use paper plates and cups to make tidying up a lot easier, but also to reduce the chances of any breaks and cuts. You can get creative and make different mini sandwiches or cookies, or even go with some attractive, healthier options. If you are in the mood, fire up a BBQ to make it a full night of fun! Make one or two cocktail options for the night. Also, have large buckets full of ice to keep the beers and soft drinks cool.
Set the mood with lighting
Install soft outdoor lights in the backyard to create a comfy atmosphere. You can also get a warm romantic feel by adding candles but keep it dark enough to see the movie.
Get your kids involved in the preparations
Your loved ones, especially your kids, are a big part of the backyard movie night, so get them as involved as possible. Give them fun but straightforward tasks, like arranging the pillows, chairs, or being in charge of the popcorn machine. The important thing is that you, as a family, make everything together – from decorating to enjoying the movie.
The movie selection
The crucial thing for a great movie night is a great movie. Before you make the final decision, make sure you know your guests. Find something that appeals to everyone. Since the idea is to have a family movie night, consider your kids` wishes. However, pay attention to the content – you don’t want anything that starts slow or is challenging to understand. You want to capture their attention from the start.
Create invites for your friends
If you want to invite your friends and neighbors, draft up some cute invitations for the night. Give people plenty of notice that you are planning on throwing an outdoor movie night.
Be prepared for the bugs
To get rid of insects during the night, bring plenty of insect spray repellent. You can also use citronella candles, which get rid of pests but also smell great and add extra coziness.
Check the forecast
Before scheduling the backyard movie night, check the weather. The wind can have a negative impact on your experience. Make sure that either the area where you choose to set up the outdoor theater is shielded from the wind or pick a day with little to no wind. The same goes for avoiding possibly rainy days.
Last but not least: Enjoy it!
Now that you know all the details of setting up your very own movie theater in your backyard, you are just about ready to relax. Do not stress and keep things as simple as possible. Remember, this is supposed to be family time, so enjoy it all together and have tons of fun!