How to Set up and Host an Epic Outdoor Movie Night

The number of drive-in movie theatres has shrunk from 4,000 in the ’50s to the measly 300 we have today. Even sadder is that some states have none.

Are you a drive-in movie theatre fan? If you are, then you might be painfully aware that your favorite movie watching setting is quickly becoming extinct.

But how about bringing the fun to your home?

Aside from allowing your family and friends to watch a movie retro style, movie nights are one way to have lots of fun on a budget.

This article will provide insights on setting up an outdoor movie night that will rival any drive-in movie theatre experience.

1. Movie Night Invitations

You might as well make an entire production (pun intended) out of the night. Invitations are one way to make your movie night feel like a unique, invite-only event.

Design nice themed invites that you can send via phone apps or over email. If you lack an eye for design, don’t fret. The internet is awash with beautiful customizable templates you can use.

The most important information to include is your address and the date and time the movie will be shown.

If there is a dress code, include this information as well, and ask for an R.S.V.P. to help you plan the sitting and refreshments for the day.

2. Outdoor Movie Chairs

Before you decide on your décor, figure out the setting. For example, where will the screen be placed and where is the audience going to sit?

You can get as creative as you want to be. If you have a huge driveway, you can do the old school drive-in, where all invitees park and watch the movie from their cars.

If your space is smaller, then there are lots of creative variations to this.

How about placing inflatable couches in your backyard? You can also have dense floaters in your pool for people to watch from. Bean bag chairs, inflatable mattresses and sleeping bags are other options you can consider.

The only rule to drive in movie nights is creativity.

Your décor can then go with the overall feel or even the movie theme. Some ideas are to use cut out film reels and replica movie tickets throughout your property.

Light up the space with candles, Christmas lights, and so on to give the viewing area a warm, welcoming ambience.

3. Outdoor Movie Night Movie Selection

Pick a great movie that most of the invitees will not have watched yet. If you are averse to this kind of pressure, you can have a movie vote where you pick three great choices and have invitees vote on one.

If you are worried about appropriateness for a mixed group, most films by DreamWorks and Pixar are a safe bet.

As a rule of thumb, pick movies whose themes are not too politically or religiously charged. You do not want to fun your fun night into an uncomfortable one, or pit people against each other.

4. Movie Equipment

You do not need to buy a new T.V. Simply bring your set/laptop outside where the brewing will be. You can then buy or rent a projector. Most schools and libraries can allow you to rent theirs out.

However, if you want to make this a regular thing, it might be cheaper to buy your own.

The movie images can also project on any light colored flat surface like one of your walls. If you decide to use a screen, get your screen hanged beforehand for a dry run.

A white sheet can work out fine as well, although a canvas painter’s drop cloth is much better. The latter is sturdier and less likely to blow around when showing on a breezy night.

Set up the equipment and see if everything works out right, at least a day before movie night. Have portable speakers and several small cans of bugs spray on hand as well.

5. Movie Night Food

Set up all your movie night favorites: popcorn, cotton candy and finger snacks.
Have a beverage bar with smoothies, sodas and beers for adults. Most people also love some crunchy, grilled food.

How about having a grill to serve hot burgers, hot dogs and even barbecue able veggies? Visit for all you need to know on grilling.

Have a popcorn topping bar so that your guests can pick and customize their popcorn.

Place some light baskets on the serving table as well for your guests to throw in their drinks, popcorns and other snacks. This allows them to build their own individual snack pack, without strutting back and forth from the snack corner.

6. Dress Code

If you particularly like dressy parties, why not have a dress code for movie night? You can request your guests to dress vintage, retro, classic, hippy, or like Hollywood royalty.

Anything goes. You can even have your guests come dressed as their favorite movie stars in their favorite movies.

7. Perfect Timing

Plan the event in a way that the movies starts and ends in good time. This will ensure the audience is not anxious about time, and as such, they can fully enjoy the movie.

You also want there to be some time after the movie where your guests can hang around and bond before leaving.

Ensure to have some refreshments left over for guests to enjoy as they chill out. In as much as possible, try and host these functions on a day before the weekend.

People tend to be much more relaxed when they do not have an early morning the next day.

Get The Show On The Road

With this guide, your outdoor movie night is bound to be a hit with all the invitees and probably some gatecrashers as well.

While movie nights are fun, you do not want you to spend an arm and a leg on it. Shopping online is a great way of making some savings on your movie night shopping.

Check out this article for some tips to get the best deals.

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