How to Host the Ultimate Backyard Movie Night

Skip the high ticket prices, under-chair bubble gum, and loud popcorn chewers by hosting your own backyard movie night. Here’s how to make it a night to remember.

By Tom Scalisi | Published Sep 15, 2022 8:12 PM

backyard movie night

Photo: istockphoto.com

Is there anything better than watching your favorite stars under the stars? While the drive-in theater experience might come to mind, it’s possible to have just as much fun watching movies in the backyard. And hosting the ultimate backyard movie night just takes a bit of planning, the right gear, and a blockbuster movie.

If you’re looking to make the most of a weekend night without heading out on the town, the following tips will turn a boring backyard into a star-studded premier, complete with snacks and smiles. Between finding the right projector screen location to keeping insects away, the following guide will help plan a DIY backyard movie night for the ages.

RELATED: Genius! The Backyard Movie Theater You Can Build in a Day

Essential Gear for Backyard Movies

backyard movie night

Photo: istockphoto.com

Grabbing the right gear for a movie night will make all the difference. After all, the idea is to bring the luxuries and comforts outside, not leave them behind. Here are some items to support your backyard movie night ideas:

Setting Up the Screen and Seating Area

backyard movie night

Photo: istockphoto.com

Arguably, setting up the projector screen is the most important part of the night. Choose a spot for an outdoor movie projector that streetlights can’t wash out, but also a place where there is plenty of room for seats in front. Try to be courteous of neighbors as well, as they may not be as into Tarantino movies as you are—some of those outdoor projectors will show every gory detail in 4K.

Also, keep in mind that the screen has to be close enough to the house that the projector can cast video onto the screen and pick up Wi-Fi from the house. This is especially true if you’re using a media streaming device.

Set up a nice seating area in front of the projector screen. Place a blanket down first and then place chairs around the back of the blanket, keeping folks in front from obstructing the view, almost like an outdoor movie theater. Make sure that the view of the screen looks good from each seat, as well.

How to Stay Warm on Chilly Nights

backyard movie night

Photo: istockphoto.com

Once the sun starts to drop, the mercury won’t be far behind. While a campfire might work for some backyard soirees, the smoke and flames won’t cut it when folks are trying to watch a Bogart-Bergman classic. So what is there to do?

Obviously, sweatshirts will help, but don’t underestimate the value of a rugged wool blanket. Stretch one across the shoulders of a few folks and those nippy temps can be ignored. Also, a few disposable hand warmers for the guests can go a long way toward keeping them warm.

If the temperatures really start to drop, it may be worth investing in an outdoor patio heater. Setting one of these heaters up near the sitting area can help keep everyone cozy during any chilling thriller.

RELATED: How to Organize an Epic Block Party That Will Have Everyone Dancing in the Street

Tips for Keeping Bugs at Bay

backyard movie night

Photo: istockphoto.com

Hopefully, the only bloodsuckers attending your backyard movie night will be the vampires on the screen, not the mosquitos in the air. But don’t leave this up to chance. Take a proactive stance with the right gear.

First, consider using some bug spray to keep those flying pests away. Also, set up an electric bug zapper to attract them away from the sitting area and potentially to their doom. Also, lighting a bug-repelling candle can only help the case.

If the bugs are especially bad, consider setting up a screen room tent. It might limit the available seating area, but the screen room can act as an effective barrier against those annoying gnats and skeeters.

Concession Considerations

backyard movie night

Photo: istockphoto.com

Everyone loves a snack during a good flick. And just because your outdoor movie night is in the backyard and not a theater or drive-in doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the same goodies.

Make sure to pack the cooler full of ice and sodas, and since it’s your theater, all the adult beverages you’d like. Rather than grabbing theater-size candy bars, consider picking up a few assortment bags of mini bars to allow for a bit more selection.

Popcorn might be more challenging. Pop a couple of bags before going outside, and keep them closed so they retain some heat. Nachos can be much easier—just heat the cheese and dole it out with chips.

Finishing Touches for the Ultimate Outdoor Movie Night

backyard movie night

Photo: istockphoto.com

Give that backyard theater a few extra touches to take it over the top. For example, connecting an outdoor speaker to the projector will help produce clean, crisp sound for a more enjoyable experience.

Also, set up some string lights behind the sitting area. These lights will create a soft, warm ambiance while also providing some light to walk by (or to make sure the kids aren’t stealing your Junior Mints between scenes). Just make sure the string lights are far enough back that they don’t create a glare on the projector screen while Luke is in the middle of the trench run.

RELATED: The Ultimate Backyard Camping Guide for Summer