When the world seemed to shut down overnight last spring, we found ourselves, like many families, at home. No activities, no school, very little outside interaction. We went on many walks, played every board game we owned, Zoomed around the world, and used our kitchen more than we had in the last five years put together. The time we shared was a mixture of sweetness, simplicity, aggravation and yes, boredom. I soon realized: it was time to get creative.
One of the best things to come out of our time at home was the discovery of showing outdoor movies. We borrowed a projector from kind neighbors, set it up in the backyard to play on the garage door and we were in business.
At first we simply watched a movie. It was just a way to give our girls something fun to look forward to – a way to break up the days that seemed to run together. But slowly we began to make each movie night an event. We celebrated the last day of an undeniably odd school year with a movie. We even bundled up to watch White Christmas to kick off the holiday season.
As our family returns to some sort of normalcy, we will probably be flooded by waves of activity. However, the fun we found watching outdoor movies during those uncertain days in 2020 won’t be forgotten.
Fun for the whole family
Movie watching under the stars is the ultimate family friendly evening. Whether it’s family night or you decide to invite the neighbors, it’s sure to be a great time.
Keep things simple by grabbing your lawn chairs or a pile of comfy blankets. For extra fun try blowing up an air mattress and layer on blankets and pillows. The kids will love it and it’s a relaxing place to watch the movie.
From popcorn to candy, there are endless possibilities. Use paper and plastic for a stress free evening. Another plus? Spills are no big deal – you’re outside! Try a make-your own popcorn bar complete with candies, chocolates, and sprinkles. Need more inspiration? See Nancy’s kid-friendly movie night recipes on page 36.
Bring the Inside Out
Extra Add Ons
Glow Sticks – Buy inexpensive glow sticks on the party aisle at any store. Kids love making them into necklaces and bracelets and they’ll add extra sparkle to the night. Twinkle Lights – String some lights in the trees or around the patio for some extra atmosphere. Mini Flashlights – Give each child a small flashlight. It’s a fun glow in the dark treasure that will also help adults keep an eye on your younger guests.
Don’t let the kids have all the fun
Movie night doesn’t have to be relegated to children. Invite your adult friends over and make it an adults only get together. An outdoor movie is sure to be a unique treat that adults don’t often get to enjoy.
Add an extra layer of fun to the evening by setting out lawn games like corn hole. These games can be played while watching the movie.
Eats and Drinks Start the evening with heavy hors d’oeuvres or dinner outside with smattering of treats to enjoy during the movie. See Nancy’s menu of specialty popcorn, savories and sweets on page 36.
Stay safe out there
Hosting an outdoor gathering is a great way to enjoy company while keeping germs at bay. You might have disposable masks on hand and hand sanitizer for guests. Consider having prepackaged snacks available rather than a traditional buffet line. Keep a Sharpie marker by drinks so guests can mark their beverages. The more comfortable your guests are, the more fun your outdoor movie night will be.
What projector is best for an outdoor movie night?
Here are some things to consider when finding a projector:
1. Brightness: While enjoying your movie outside, you don’t have much control over the ambient light. That means the brighter the projector, the better. Brightness is measured in lumens. You’ll want a projector with around 1,500 to 3,000 lumens if possible.
2. Portability: Most personal projectors can be set up easily on a small table and plugged into an extension cord. But really the possibilities are truly endless. Traveling? Consider a mini projector that connects to your smart phone. Though lightweight and easy to pack, these smaller projectors may not have the best picture and sound quality.
3. Sound: While your projector may have its own speaker, you’ll probably be happier with a projector that has Bluetooth capability. This way, you can sync your Bluetooth speaker with the projector for a rich, full sound. Just remember to be a good neighbor and keep the volume at a level that everyone will appreciate!
4. Background: The movie projection will show up best on a light colored surface. You don’t have to invest in a movie screen. If your house or garage is painted a light color, it should work well. You may even try draping a white bed sheet on your fence in the back yard.
An outdoor movie night is the perfect way to gather. Whether it’s with family, a backyard of kids, or your closest friends, coming together to enjoy the simple things feels good. A beautiful evening, a bowl of popcorn and the shared experience of watching a movie. Doesn’t get much better than that.
By Callie Harris
Photography by Shayli Anne Photography