Here is a fun and simple way to really create memories with family and friends this summer.
I absolutely adore outdoor movies in summer- the fresh air, the twinkling stars, time with my family- I always look forward to them.
In reality though, outdoor movies do have drawbacks. Often they start incredibly late- too late for small children, there are bugs, crowded areas, those people that insist on the high back lawn chairs right in front of you and on and on.
So we got a movie projector this year and now we can have all the positives of outdoor movies right in our own home.
I wanted to cover some simple outdoor movie ideas and how to set up in this post and then in a few weeks, I will have a totally different set up for outdoor movie night with instructions to make your own movie screen.
To get started here is the equipment you will need (I will put links to everything at the bottom of the post:)
- Movie Projector
- Amp or Speakers (optional)
- iPhone or DVD/Bluray Player
You can purchase a movie projector starting at $99. This is a bit of an investment but I am so glad we have our projector now. We have already used it several times this summer and I am so excited for fall- watching The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and drinking apple cider. I can’t wait!
Next you need some sort of screen to project the movie. This doesn’t have to be fancy at all. I think sometimes people shy away from activities like this because it can feel overwhelming to do everything. I encourage you to take a look around your home and your yard and see if you already have something that will work as a screen.
The best screen is a flat, white surface for a great picture quality. It can be as simple as a drop cloth, white tarp or white sheet draped over a clothes line or fence. You can totally project a movie right on the side of your house too! We have a brown stucco house and have put movies right on the side with great picture quality. For this post, we simply pulled down the sun shade on the back of our pergola to broadcast the movie. Simple and functional and it rolls up when not in use.
When my husband was setting up the projector and testing it, he took rake and propped it between two trees and draped a white sheet over the handle. Don’t let the idea of creating a screen intimidate you- it doesn’t need to be fancy and if you look around your back yard, I bet you find tons of options.
The next step is to amplify the sound. We used a speaker for some movies for larger groups but for just our family, the speaker on the projector was actually sufficient. Note as you can see we were in a small space and all sitting together next to the projector. If you have a larger space or a larger group, you probably need additional speakers.
Last but not least you need the movie. You can either get a digital copy of the movie and broadcast from your iPhone or you can just unplug your DVD or Bluray player and bring that outside. For our outdoor movie night, we played the adorable Disney movie, Zootopia. We have the Bluray and inside Disney movies you will find a code to enter online and get a digital copy of the film. I did that and streamed the movie right from my phone. Simple! (Be sure when you purchase your projector that it comes with the correct adapter to use with your phone, gaming device or Bluray player.)
And now that you are set up and ready to go, here are some fun touches that make movie night feel a little more special. Your movie will automatically set the theme for your movie night. We watched Zootopia so I tried to add a few little touches that were related to the movie.
We have a large outdoor chalkboard that I decorated- this is a cute way to get the kids involved before the movie starts or prop up a chalkboard on the porch to welcome friends and family.
We grilled burgers before the movie started and I made little mason jars with carrots and hummus for the kids to snack on (carrots seemed appropriate for a Bunny heroine).
You have to have popcorn and candy for a movie night as well so I made a batch of popcorn to snack on while we were watching.
Have you ever tried mixing candy in your popcorn? It sounds horrible but is a favorite in our house- something sweet and gummy and something chocolatey are perfect with the salty popcorn!
I found adorable little Zootopia fruit snacks and used those to mix in with the popcorn.
And for drinks, we have been really into Italian sodas this summer. I made some blackberry Italian sodas with frozen blueberries inside and called it “Night Howler Serum.” Just in case anyone goes savage while we are watching the movie. (One never knows with children.)
The kids got a huge kick out of this and these are so simple to make – just Torani or Monin syrup and club soda. Light and refreshing and simple.
Every outdoor movie needs insect repellent and I quickly made a Fox Spray that the kids also got a kick out of spraying.
While I was getting the snacks set up, the kids were playing with a cute little Zootopia toy- Judy Hopps patrol car that lights up. They actually had a great time driving this around the yard.
As for the set up for the movie, we just pulled up some Adirondack chairs for the adults and the kids enjoyed laying on the ground. We have an outdoor rug and we tossed a bunch of pillows and blankets and dolls and stuffed animals. They spread out and were perfectly comfortable.
And it is hard to show how good the picture quality was but I thought it was excellent. We were really happy with this simple set up for movie night.
And here are some of the things we used for the party: