How to Host an Outdoor Movie Night

Is it easy finding things to do to keep kids busy during the summer? Ask any mom and she’ll tell you the same thing: no way! Finding activities for the little ones and keeping them out of trouble is enough work. So why not create an activity that’s fun for the whole family to enjoy?

There are all types of DIY home movie theatres online, but it’s actually a lot easier than it looks. It does require purchasing a few pieces of equipment, but overall it’s a great setup to have for the future outdoor movie night. Here’s how to create one in your backyard.

The Setup

The hardest thing first: you’ll need a few pieces of equipment in order to set up an outdoor movie theatre in your backyard.

You’ll need:

  • A set of speakers
  • A hand-held projector
  • A laptop or DVD player
  • String or rope
  • White and Black bedsheet
  • Tape

By far, the most expensive thing you’ll need to invest in is a hand-held projector. These start at $50 and can shoot into the hundreds for higher-end models. The best option is to get one that has speakers built into it, so that you don’t have to haul portable speakers outside to set up.

Start by setting up the screen. You can purchase blowup outdoor movie screens for a few hundred dollars, but it’s almost more fun to make your own out of a white bedsheet draped between two trees or on a rope. Just make sure to pull it tight to get rid of any wrinkles in the fabric, and tie it down to the ground so that a gust of wind doesn’t whip it away. Another good idea is to tape a darker blue or black sheet to the back of it. This will make the picture crisper and easier to view.

Next, you’re going to set up the projector. Start by connecting the video signal from your laptop or DVD player into the projector. Then connect the audio signal from the laptop or DVD player into the speakers. Test out the projector picture to make sure it’s far enough away from the makeshift screen to get the entire picture on the screen. Do a quick trial run of the video and sound to make sure everything is set up properly before starting the outdoor movie night.

The Seating

The seating for an outdoor movie night can be as simple as you’d like, or it can be more complex. For a simple seating idea, take outdoor couch cushions and place them on the grass, or up against a tree for a makeshift lounger. Spread a large comfy blanket on the grass, and add throw pillows or bed pillows for kids and friends to lay on comfortably.

If you have sun loungers or outdoor seating, you can also pull those up for easy seating arrangements. The best seating always has a variety of options, so that people who want to sprawl out on the floor can, and people who prefer a little more structure in their seating can also be comfortable.

The Lighting

No outdoor movie night is complete with a little ambiance created from great outdoor lighting. Outdoor bulb lights are great for stringing on fences or from trees. But, we’re big fans of large paper lanterns that can be hung easily and can be purchased for super cheap. Hang a few on fences, from trees or in bushes to add casual, soft lighting to your outdoor space. This helps light up the area so that no one falls or trips, but will keep it dark enough to easily see the movie screen.

The Food

Outdoor movie night food is simple: pop a few bowls of popcorn, throw them into a couple of plastic bowls, and set them outside near the seating. Have a pitcher of water and a pitcher of juice, along with some plastic cups for drinking. And if you want, put together a small candy tray filled with bite-sized candy bars and other fun things you generally find at a traditional movie theatre. Everything should be finger foods and easy to eat with your hands, since everyone will be in the outdoors and it will be dark outside.

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