Plan a Backyard Movie Night

Now playing on a lawn near you: a party that celebrates summer, cinema, and community all under the stars.

01 of 08

Flick Trick

Outdoor movie night
David Tsay

Project your movie onto any light-colored background. Or create your own screen with a few basic supplies.

02 of 08

Chalking It Up

Outdoor Movie Night
David Tsay

Direct your guests to the "theater" with a hand-drawn sign. For a marquee-like look, draw dots inside an arrow to point the way.

03 of 08

Pop Stars

Outdoor Movie Night
David Tsay

Re-create the excitement of the snack bar with a homemade popcorn stand. Pop up a big batch of plain kernels, lay out mix-ins like candy and pretzels, and let the kids season it with custom spice combinations.

04 of 08

Spice It Up

Outdoor Movie Night
David Tsay

Pizza: 4 parts grated Parmesan + 1 part dry oregano
Cinnamon Sugar: 4 parts sugar + 1 part cinnamon
BBQ: 2 parts brown sugar + 1 part paprika + 1 part cumin + 1 part chili powder + salt to taste

05 of 08


Outdoor Movie Night
David Tsay

We used a SodaStream to jazz up tap water at our soda bar. But you can also use store-bought seltzer. For fruit add-ins, fill bowls with berries, sliced stone fruits, pitted cherries, and slices of lemon, lime, and orange. Colorful straws and movie-themed drink names up the fun factor.

Whip up these juice blends, then mix with seltzer:
Muppet Mix: 3 cups pureed watermelon + 2 cups apple-strawberry juice
Tangled Tonic: 2 cups pomegranate juice + 2 cups grape juice
Fantasia Fusion: 5 cups pineapple juice + 1/4 cup coconut cream

06 of 08

Opening Act

Outdoor Movie Night
David Tsay

Keep the little ones occupied while you wait for darkness with a game of movie trivia. Prepare film-related questions, like "What's the name of the Little Mermaid?" Let the kids shout out the answer.

07 of 08

Tech Talk

Outdoor Movie Night
David Tsay

With the help of outdoor-film experts, we've translated tech specs to help you choose a projector for an outdoor-movie night. Look for these digits when shopping:
1024x768 A solid resolution for computer or DVD hookup; it's also known as "XGA."
2,000 The minimum number of lumens (measure of brightness) needed to screen at night with ambient light, which are the light conditions you'll find in most backyards. Opt for higher lumens for larger projections.
13,000:1 An excellent contrast ratio. The higher the ratio, the better the image quality. For fair quality, you need at least 500 to 1.
6 The maximum width (in feet) of your image. Any larger and the picture might wash out.

Our pick: With a built-in speaker and the option to accept an HD signal, Epson's PowerLite Home Cinema 500 makes setup a cinch.

Budget tip: Ask your local library or school about rental options. Some offer basic projectors

to check out for $10 to $50 per day.

08 of 08

Kids' Favorite Snacks

Stumped for more snack ideas? Kids dish on their favorite treats so you can serve up the best munchies at your shindig.

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