I love, and I mean absolutely love, going to the movies.  You might say I downright adore it.  And if it’s possible to love something even more than that, then that’s the way I feel about watching an outdoor movie

Blame it on the magic of summer nights or the nostalgia of old drive-ins, if you like. 

But I just cannot get over the charm of watching a movie out-of-doors.

I first fell in love with the idea of the outdoor movie in 2001 when my husband and I rented (Yes, children rented.  Like a VHS tape from the Blockbuster.) The Wedding Planner starring Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey.  I mean, isn’t that when we all did?  A romantic park.  Sparkly lights hung from the trees.  The impossible match of the uptight wedding planner and the rumpled pediatrician meant to be married to someone else…

Did I mention Matthew McConaughey? 

Ok, I digress.

While the outdoor movies I host in my backyard aren’t quite as glamorous as the San Francisco night out had by J-Lo and Matt, I have learned 5 secrets that will help  you host a fun and memorable night of your own sure to have your friends and family falling quite hopelessly in love with outdoor movies.

Keep The Set-Up Simple.

You don’t have to have a lot of professional equipment to host a great outdoor movie night.  A simple set up with a laptop that will play a DVD or stream a movie, a laptop projector like this one, laptop speakers, and a queen-sized white sheet is all you need.  For the movie night pictured here, we simply used the staple gun to attach a sheet to our backyard fence, but there have been other times when I have frog-clipped a king sheet from the gutters on my patio.  You can purchase a movie screen if you like, but I have found that it just really isn’t that necessary for a casual night in the backyard.

Think About Seating & Atmosphere.

There are plenty of really great seating ideas for an outdoor movie night.  Having your guests bring their own lawn chairs is an obvious pick and there are even great little loungers you can build from pallets, but I prefer just to have guests bring picnic blankets and provide outdoor cushions for them to lean against.  It’s inexpensive and easy, and I like the “night at the park” atmosphere it creates.

I also like to hang some outdoor lights (just plain ol’ Christmas lights will do), use battery-operated candles or lanterns, as well as sit around some ferns or other plants to help with atmosphere and define my movie space.

Put Together An Easy Popcorn Bar.

No movie night is complete without at least one trip to the concession stand, right?  And a popcorn bar is an inexpensive, fun way to keep your crowd happy.  For all the how-to details and up-close pictures of the popcorn bar I used for this movie night, click here.

Remember The Bug Spray.

Lightning bugs are tres magnifique for your outdoor movie night; mosquitoes not so much.  Make sure that you have a bucket filled with different types of mosquito repellent handy for your guests to grab and use.  There are different types of sprays, patches, and bug repellent bracelets that you can offer your guests.  They will appreciate the variety and the option not to have to smell like a deep woods hiker all night long.

Older Movies Are The Ticket.

There is just something about a night under the stars that calls for a classic movie selection.  Don’t worry though.  This doesn’t mean that you have to go black and white if you don’t want to (but why wouldn’t you?).  These days Goonies, Ralph Macchio’s Karate Kid, and Sand Lot all qualify as classics.

Whether you are creating a romantic night for two, throwing a birthday party, or just a hosting a get-together for family and friends, an outdoor movie night has all the magic and charm that is sure to have you falling head over heels in love just like me and J-LO and Matt did all those years ago.

NOTE:  This is a great way to host an outdoor gaming night too!


Interesting in more outdoor entertaining ideas and tips?  Check out these ASD favorites!

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