Enjoy a night of flicks with friends, family, and refreshments.

There’s hardly a better way to have fun in your own backyard than to plan an outdoor movie night! Summer nights are perfect for this thanks to a comfortable temperature and a fun (maybe romantic!) atmosphere–and kids and adults alike can enjoy a nice, seasonal double-feature in a more out-of-the-ordinary environment. 

Setting up for a movie night can be pretty simple, but if you want to make the most of the night, a bit of planning will do you some good. Here’s a guide to everything you’ll want to consider when setting up and hosting your summertime screening!

Have the equipment necessary

To project a movie, you’ll need a laptop hooked up to a digital projector. You’ll also need some sort of sound system, which can be a simple set of speakers. Of course, you’ll need movies, too! Pick out a whole selection of fun, age-appropriate movies that fit the season.

Gather refreshments

Refreshments add a lot of fun to the movie-watching experience–and since you won’t be buying them at a theater, you won’t have to worry about $6 boxes of candy. Set up a nostalgic popcorn maker with popcorn bags so your family can self-serve the iconic movie snack. Feel free to get movie-sized packages of candies, and make whatever finger foods your family enjoys most! Don’t forget cold drinks on ice for guests to whet their whistles.

Set up a screen

You could buy a screen specially made for projections, but a simple white sheet works well enough, too. Iron out the sheet, and simply hang on a fence or other vertical surface.

Get comfy

You’ll need some comfy blankets for your guests or family to relax on. Lawn chairs can work, but make sure no one’s view is obstructed–keep chairs to the sides and blankets in the center.

It can also be smart to tell guests to bring a sweater with them in case the temperature drops into the night.

Don’t invite pests

No, we don’t mean human guests! You’ll want to ensure mosquitos and other bugs don’t get in the way of enjoying this nice summer night. Have bug spray handy for guests to use, and set up some citronella candles or torches to de-bug the space.

Set the atmosphere

While it’s not absolutely necessary, decorating the yard can make your movie night with friends and family all the more special. Make or buy a garland to hang on fences or the refreshment table. You can also add Christmas lights–they’ll add a nice, soft glow to the space and can easily be turned off if they become distracting when the movie plays. 

You might also want to consider signage for the big night as well. You can make a banner at the entrance to drum up some excitement in guests as they arrive, and use a simple chalkboard sign to show guests to the seating or refreshment areas. It might be a bit much, but a red carpet leading into the yard can up the fun factor as well!

Check with the neighbors

Depending on how late you intend to view, a movie night can be potentially disruptive. Let your neighbors know ahead of time that you’ll be organizing this event and how late it might go. Feel free to even invite them to take part!