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Host Your Own Backyard Movie Night!

Host Your Own Backyard Movie Night!

Summer is the perfect time to invite friends over to enjoy an outdoor movie night in your backyard. Bond with guests as you lounge in your comfy clothes, sitting on a chair, or laying on a blanket underneath the stars. Pop some popcorn and put up a few festive decorations, and let guests and family members enjoy some time together bonding on a warm summer night! 

Host a Backyard Movie Night: Planning 

Start planning for your fun backyard movie night by picking a date. When deciding on a date, take in to consideration things like expected weather and day of the week. A weekend night will probably have a higher turnout than a weekday night because everyone can sleep in the next day. A day with little chance for rain will minimize your chances of having to postpone. 

Then, pick a movie! When deciding which movie to show, consider who your audience will be. 

  • Inviting mostly kids? You can’t go wrong with something from Disney or Pixar. 
  • Inviting mostly adults? Try a funny whodunit such as Knives Out or a fairly recent comedy such as Like a Boss or Downhill. 
  • Inviting families? You can’t go wrong with anything from the Star Wars franchise or classics such as The Princess Bride. 

Host a Backyard Movie Night: 12 Must-Haves 

Once you’ve planned your date and time as well as picked a movie, it’s time to start gathering the items that is sure to make your backyard movie night a smash success! Here are 12 must-have items for your backyard movie night. 

  1. A projector for the movie. You can pick these up fairly inexpensively. If you will reuse it quite a bit, it may be worth a splurge. Otherwise, buy whatever works for you. 
  2. Portable speakers. Make sure your guests can hear the film with portable speakers. Several small ones placed strategically around the viewing area would work, or, if you have a smaller area, one big one should do the trick. 
  3. A large white sheet to play the movie on. No need to purchase an expensive screen for your outdoor space (unless you want to!). Clip a flat white bedsheet up on clothesline strung between to trees or along the side of your house. Or, if you want to DIY an outdoor screen for your space, find instructions here.
  4. Blankets or chairs. You can totally ask guests to supply their own blankets or chairs to sit on during your backyard movie night. They may have a blow up hammock they prefer or a lounger folding chair they really like. But make sure you have enough chairs and blankets for everyone you invite- and make sure they aren’t items you are especially attached to. Grass stains and spills are bound to happen! 
  5. A large table with a fun tablecloth. Use this to set out fun centerpieces, concession items, extra blankets (in case it gets cool once the sun sets) and any extra items you might want to provide your guests with. 
  6. Snacks, snacks, snacks! Provide your guests with a smorgasbord of tasty treats. Individual bags of popcorn, bagged chips, candy. Aim for treats that are individually packaged so they are easy to grab and take back to your seat once it’s dark, although if you do want to put together some “custom” treats, S’mores kits (small containers with a few graham crackers, marshmallows and a chocolate bar) are easy and adorable!  
  7. Drinks. For the kids, provide low sugar or no sugar drinks such as flavored water or juice boxes. Mini bottles of water are also great to minimize the number of half-full bottles of water left behind at the end of the night. For adults, you may choose to provide alcoholic spritzers or beer, as well as soda and water. 
  8. Bug Spray or Citronella candles. It is summertime, after all! Place a few cans of bug spray out for people to use as they need and be sure to light citronella candles and place them around the viewing area. Just be sure and keep them out of reach of tiny hands.  
  9. Flashlights. If guests need to wander inside to use the restroom, make sure you provide flashlights or glow sticks to allow them to illuminate the pathway inside. You don’t want anyone getting hurt and putting a damper on a fun evening! 
  10. Restroom signs. If you invite friends who haven’t been inside your home before, you may consider putting up signs with arrows pointing to the restroom so people aren’t consistently interrupting you during the movie to ask you to point them toward the bathroom! 
  11. Fun toys and trinkets for the kids. If you are inviting kids to the movie, you might consider picking up some glow toys for them to enjoy once it is dark enough outside. Toys such as glow sticks and glow jewelry can be purchased incredibly inexpensively and will entertain the kids when they start to get fidgety after sitting (or lying) still for a while. 
  12. Large garbage cans placed strategically. This way guests can clean up after themselves and won’t leave you with a messy space when the movie is over and it’s time to head home. Place three or four large garbage cans (or just large tubs that can be easily rinsed out) near the seating area and the concession area for guests to easily dispose of their trash. 

Host a Backyard Movie Night: Optional Extras 

A few other things to consider when hosting a backyard movie night… 

-Consider having an intermission half way through the movie. This will allow guests to grab more snacks and use the restroom without missing the movie. 

-If you have a fire pit, it would be fun to roast hot dogs or marshmallows before the movie starts! If you want to DIY your own fire pit, check out this great tutorial. 

-If the weather on the night you picked is supposed to be cooler, consider providing a warm beverage such as coffee. If it’s supposed to be really warm, consider providing freezer pops or slushies for the kids.  

About The Author

Stephanie Jarrett

Stephanie Jarrett is passionate about all things: family, parenting, travel, and budget-friendly tips. As a Texas-transplant and girl mom of three, she’s a resident expert for, Pearachute Kids, Hawaiian Falls, OKC Tourism Board, Livie & Luca, Mox Shoes, Arlington CVB, many more. When she isn’t on a road trip with her three girls, exploring museums, parks and more, she’s probably curled up on the couch with the latest NYT bestseller and a glass of red wine. Follow her adventures in Dallas/Fort Worth and beyond at

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