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Fun Activities

Hosting an Outdoor Movie Night

Good Morning everyone!  I don’t know about you, but I just LOVE these cooler evenings we are having!  It’s one of my favorite things about fall – whether it’s sleeping with the windows open to enjoy the fresh air while I snuggle under a blanket, sitting around a fire pit in the evening with friends, or taking a brisk nature walk on the weekends I enjoy those fall temperatures.  It also inspires me to enjoy the evenings with friends and family by planning fun events.

Hosting an Outdoor Movie Night

Hosting an Outdoor Movie Night

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We had our first outdoor movie night last fall and it was a huge success!  We invited 10-12 families over and everyone had a wonderful time together.  We enjoyed it so much that it is now going to be a yearly tradition in the Mackey home.  So now I’m going to share my top tips and ideas for making your outdoor movie night a fun time with your friends and family!


  • Send e-Invitations online to your guests or invite them through Facebook to keep it simple and stress-free.
  • Take it one step further and make movie tickets and mail them to your guests. Then they can turn them in when they arrive for the outdoor movie night.  Check out these great movie ticket printables from
  • Invite your guests at least 3-4 weeks in advance so that they can make sure to put your event on their calendar before it gets too full.
  • Plan to have your guests arrive 30 minutes to an hour before it becomes dark so they will be able to socialize, choose their food and beverages, and pick out their seats before the movie begins.

Setting the Scene: Have some fun with setting your yard up for your outdoor movie night!

  • Hang movie posters at your house or make a vintage marquee to make everyone feel like they’re at the theater
  • Choose the right spot to display the movie. Keep in mind lights that may be on in the evening so they won’t interfere with viewing the movie.
  • You may want to give your neighbors a head’s up about the outdoor movie so they won’t complain about the noise or turn on outdoor lights that could interfere with viewing the movie.
  • Make sure you have some low lighting for your guests as they fill up on food or drinks during the movie or take a trip to the bathroom. Try using LED votive candles in jars, rope lights, or low-light lanterns.
  • Have bug spray or citronella candles for your guests to use so everyone stays comfortable and bite-free.

Hosting an Outdoor Movie Night

Equipment: Plan a test-run a day or two before your movie night to ensure everything is working correctly.

  • Projector- I was able to find a great deal on a projector on Amazon last year – it was normally $150 on sale for $40! If you’re willing to shop around, you can find a great projector that is reasonable.  Be sure that whatever projector you choose will work with your video player and speakers.
  • Video Player- I used a Blu-ray DVD player and it worked great. You could also use a laptop or smart phone to play the movie as long as it is compatible with the projector and the speakers.
  • Speakers- I lucked out and a friend had a theater system sound bar that we were able to use and it did a great job. You can also check into outdoor speakers so they are weather resistant, but again make sure they are compatible with the video player and projector you will be using.
  • Screen- There are a lot of options for your outdoor movie screen. You can use a white sheet or drop cloth, a blank wall, or the side of the house.  You can also buy an outdoor movie screen if you plan to hold an outdoor movie night on a regular basis (they aren’t that expensive), or even check into renting an inflatable outdoor movie screen.

Hosting an Outdoor Movie Night

Seating: You want your guests to be comfortable as they watch the movie, so plan ahead.

  • Set up lawn chairs, camping chairs, quilts, blankets, and throw pillows for your guests to relax on as they watch the movie. You can also use benches and stools, or ask your guests to bring their own chairs and blankets to make sure everyone is comfortable.
  • Use folding chairs with throw pillows as extra seating that’s easy to store afterwards.
  • Lay yoga mats and sleeping bags out over a large area of the yard and have the kids lay on them.
  • Take a trip to Goodwill to pick up old blankets, quilts, and throw pillows to use for all of your outdoor events. You can then store them in space-saver bags until your next outdoor party.
  • Have a blast making these box cars for the younger kids so they feel like they’re at a drive-in movie! Check out these great Cardboard Box Car DIY tutorials from Pinterest.

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Hosting an Outdoor Movie Night

Food: Snacks at the movies is part of the experience, so make your food choices fun.

  • If it’s going to be chilly, try having warmer foods and drinks like chili, soup, hot chocolate, or apple cider.
  • Serve hot dogs, nachos, or pizza if you’re planning to serve dinner. These choices will all be easy for your guests to eat while they enjoy the movie.
  • Pick up boxes and bags of candy from your local dollar store or Five Below and let your guests choose their favorites.
  • Have a popcorn bar with lots of toppings. Check out these popcorn bar ideas from Pinterest.
  • Make specialty flavored popcorn to serve like sea salt caramel, olive oil and sea salt, or chili powder.
  • Let your guests have fun filling paper bags with their favorite movie treats so they can enjoy them at their seats. You could even decorate lunch sized paper bags for them to use.
  • Have cans or bottles of soda and water in a metal tub or plastic buckets filled with ice so your guests can pick and choose which options they want to enjoy.
  • Set up your concession stand where your guests can easily access it to get refills during the movie without blocking other people’s view.

Hosting an Outdoor Movie Night

Movies: You will want to choose a movie that everyone will enjoy – especially if you will have children coming to your outdoor movie night.

  • Here are my Top 20 movie choices for families:
    • The Princess Bride
    • The Wizard of Oz
    • Toy Story
    • Up
    • Night at the Museum
    • Star Wars
    • Jumanji
    • The Great Outdoors
    • Jurassic Park
    • Monster House
    • Goonies
    • The Sandlot
    • Finding Nemo
    • The Lion King
    • Shrek
    • Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
    • Kung Fu Panda
    • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
    • Mary Poppins
    • Despicable Me

Bonus Tip:  You may want to plan an intermission and pause the movie halfway through so your guests can use the restroom and stock back up on goodies for the second half of the show.  Try playing some fun music during the intermission to keep the festive mood going.

I hope these tips have gotten you excited to plan your own outdoor movie night!  I’d love to hear your ideas that you use or that you like, so please comment below to let us know how yours turned out!  And don’t forget to share this post on your social media sites so your friends and family can take advantage of these ideas – maybe they’ll invite you for an outdoor movie night at their home!Hosting an Outdoor Movie Night

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