How to Host an Outdoor Movie Night in 5 Simple Steps


These summer nights are meant to be enjoyed. Bed times go out the window, daylight lingers, and entire neighborhoods stay out to play long after the sun finally does go down. It’s a magical time of year! I can’t think of a better way to take advantage of all that magic than by hosting an outdoor movie night. I’ve got a few handy tips and tricks up my sleeve to help you pull things together in a jiff!

How to Host an Outdoor Movie Night in 5 Simple Steps:

1. Pick a flick

Depending on your crowd, you’ll probably want something generally family-friendly and appealing to all ages. Classics we love and watch often: Babe, Annie, The Goonies (a little bit more PG-13 than you might think), The Princess Bride, Napoleon Dynamite, or anything by Dreamworks or Pixar.

2. Put the word out!

Draft up some cute invitations and pass them out to your guest list. Be sure to include instructions for everyone to bring their own pillows and blankets, unless you’ve got plenty to spare. Gotta be comfy!

3. Hunt down a projector

If you can’t borrow, there are definitely services around where you can rent one for a small fee. A quick Google search for your area should do the trick; sometimes you can even check out a projector from your local library! Of course, you could always buy one if it’s in your budget and if you think it’s something worth investing in. Ebay and Craigslist are my go-to spots when I need to find a good deal on not-new equipment.

Once the projector is secured, make sure to do a dry run to ensure you’ve got all the right cables and connective equipment. There’s nothing more embarrassing or frustrating than an equipment malfunction, am I right? Don’t forget the speakers!

4. Get your screen hung

A white sheet will always work, but a canvas painter’s drop cloth might actually be a better solution. It’s sturdier and less likely to blow around if a breeze pops up — plus you can use it for about a million different things afterwards. Check your local hardware store for a white one, and while you’re there, pick up clamps to secure everything in place.

5. Treats!

What’s a movie without treats? One I don’t want to go to, that’s for sure. I jest! But really, movie treats are half the viewing experience, so make sure you break out the good stuff. I linked to several good ideas below. Personally, I love raiding the movie theater candy section at my local grocery store, and then popping up a few big bowls of popcorn with individual bags for people to fill themselves. And don’t forget drinks — popcorn makes you thirsty!

With that, I think we’ve got the basics about covered. But just in case you need a bit more inspiration, I’ve hunted down some of the best outdoor movie night links around and included them in the gallery below. Click through for a few more great ideas and happy movie watching!

Rooftop Movie 1 of 14
Urban families, I'm looking at you. Here's proof that you don't need grass to enjoy an outdoor flick. Isn't this just the dreamiest?

Get more inspiration from The Anthropologie Blog
Serve Yourself 2 of 14
Here's a close-up of that treat table. I love the little marquee sign announcing the movie selection.

Get more inspiration from The Anthropologie Blog
Screen Options 3 of 14
This screen was constructed using a canvas painter’s drop cloth, making it a bit sturdier than your average sheet. Hit up your local hardware store to find one, but make sure it’s white!

Get more inspiration from The Prairie Hive
Tasting Table Delights 4 of 14
This treat table has just about everything you need! A few different popcorn varieties, bags guests can fill themselves, and a selection of sugary goodies to top it off.

Get more inspiration from The Prairie Hive
Treat Table Eye Candy 5 of 14
Nothing but good things as far as my eyes can see. Yum!

Get more inspiration from The Anthropologie Blog
Mini Candy Bar Tray 6 of 14
Having a tray of mini candy bars to pass around is a fabulous idea!

Get more inspiration from Oh Happy Day
Pretty Jars for Your Candy Selection 7 of 14
Quality vs. quantity? It’s all in the presentation if you ask me. Lovely jars filled with delightful treats will bring your movie night up a notch!

Get more inspiration from The Prairie Hive
Go for the Classics 8 of 14
If you’re keeping your event intimate, then a tray of all the classic movie treats will suffice. I really like the idea of bottleneck sodas, cracker jacks, red vines, and pixie sticks. Doesn’t get more traditional than that. So fun!

Get more inspiration from Your Home Based Mom
Printable Popcorn Bags 9 of 14
My sister Jordan has all the best party ideas. You can pick up some of these plain bags at any party store and then use her free printable to customize them, movie theater-style. It’s an easy way to add a special touch.

Get the free printable from Oh Happy Day
Popcorn Bar 10 of 14
I think having a few different varieties of popcorn for guests to choose from is key, and then having the option to mix a few favorite candies into that popcorn is really just pure genius. I always crack open a box of junior mints and pour them right in my bucket at the theater, don’t you?

Get more inspiration from Inspired Style Events
Colorful Mini Sodas 11 of 14
Don’t they look so colorful and inviting? Pouring drinks into individual cups and dressing with bright straws is a simple way to dress your party up a little.

Get more inspiration from Oh Happy Day
DIY Movie Marquee 12 of 14
If you really want to send your movie party over the top, this retro-inspired DIY movie marquee should do the trick. It lights up and everything — so cool!

Get the tutorial from Oh Happy Day
Comfortable Seating 13 of 14
Having extra blankets and pillows on hand is a yes, even if guests bring their own. Doesn’t this scene look so inviting?

Get more inspiration from Juicy Bits
Mood Lighting 14 of 14
Any outdoor gathering can be improved by stringing some lights. I love the warm glow, and it’s not too bright or too dark for people to be tripping all over each other. When in doubt, string some lights!

Get more inspiration from The Kitchn
Article Posted 2 years Ago

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