Outdoor Movie Party Ideas
The nights are warm and inviting, which means it’s the perfect time of year to throw an outdoor movie party! Take a look as we share some tips and ideas for your next (or first!) outdoor movie night.
What you’ll need for an outdoor movie party:
- The essentials: projector, screen, movie(s)
- The comforts: seating, blankets, pillows
- The sustenance: refreshments, concessions
- The little things: details to make your night a hit
You’re going to need a big white screen on which to show the movie.
This could mean using the old fashioned projection screens that many of our science teachers used to pull down from the top of the blackboard when showing us the periodic table, or, more likely, it could mean that you need a large white (preferably clean) bed sheet.
Hang either one from the side of your house, or find a way to prop it up against a temporary structure.
You’ll also definitely need a projector to pair with your big white screen. If you don’t own a projector, don’t run to the store and buy one (they’re not cheap!).
Chances are you know someone who owns one. Don’t know where to look? Start with your electronic-savvy friends. They’ll know who you can talk to. If all else fails, you can rent a projector for a small fee.
Once you’ve solidified the equipment, you’ll need to pick out the entertainment. When choosing a movie, consider the following questions:
- Is your party a neighborhood gathering? Then you’ll want to choose a family-friendly movie.
- Is your party a birthday party for kids, or is its purposed to entertain small children? Then you’ll have to go with a rated-G or PG film.
- Is your party for adults-only? Then you’ll have a much broader range of movies from which to choose. You’ll also have a larger number of picky movie critics to please, most likely. For adults-only parties, consider your guest list, and then consult these themes to find out which might best fit the audience:
- Black & White, with movies like A Streetcar Named Desire, On The Waterfront, Rebel Without a Cause
- The Classics, with movies like Cool Hand Luke, The Usual Suspects, The Godfather
- 80s, with movies like The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Ghostbusters
- Sports-themed, with movies like Remember the Titans, The Natural, Raging Bull
- Feel like a Kid Again, with movies like Harry Potter, Toy Story (or anything by Disney and Pixar), Shrek
- Academy Award Winners, with movies like Gone with the Wind, Schindler’s List, Gladiator
- Epic Movies, with movies like Indiana Jones, The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars
- Documentaries, like The Thin Blue Line, When We Were Kings, Bowling for Columbine
- Thrillers and Horror Films, with movies like Psycho, The Shining, Jaws
- Action-packed, with movies like Die Hard, The Dark Knight, Pulp Fiction
- Comedy, with movies like Some Like it Hot, Airplane, There’s Something About Mary
- Ladies Night, with movies like Titanic, Terms of Endearment, The Notebook
- Guys Night, with movies like The Sting, Dances with Wolves, The Shawshank Redemption
Make sure that you divulge the theme of the night when you invite your guests.
Or, to rid yourself of the element of surprise, let them know which movie or movies you plan on showing that night.
TIP: if you want to give your audience some say in the flick, have five or six movies on hand. As guests arrive, let them vote on their movie of choice while they sip on a beverage and enjoy some pre-movie snacks.
You and your guests are going to want to be as comfortable as possible while watching the movie.
This means you’ll need plenty of seating in an array of preferences. Offer guests chairs, reclining chairs, pads on the ground, bean bag chairs and anything else you think your guests might want to use. Whatever you do, make sure you have plenty of blankets and pillows with you, because most guests will want to get cozy during the movie.
TIP: if you don’t have enough to go around, put on the invitation that guests should bring a chair, pillow and blanket for themselves.
What’s a movie night without a few snacks?
You’ll want to offer a variety of drinks for your guests, including cola, flavored cola, punch, juice boxes, water, iced tea and Slushies (if you have a Slushie machine).
For the adult-friendly parties, also offer wine, beer, coffee and tea.
TIP: if you want to get creative with your evening, make a specialty cocktail that goes with the movie theme you’ve chosen.
As for the snacks, candy and popcorn are must-haves. Consider the typical movie theater candies such as Snow Caps, Junior Mints, Twizzlers, M&Ms and Sour Patch Kids. Also, consider some other traditional movie theater treats—like nachos and soft pretzels.
For the creative host, pre-make a special treat that includes a mix of popcorn and candy in individual baggies or on individual trays for each guest.
If you’ve got a bonfire going, hot dogs and s’mores are fun to cook and enjoy before or during a movie.
These movie nights are outdoors, so you’ll have to prepare for some additional “guests” when hosting. Make sure there is plenty of bug spray and mosquito spray to keep those unwanted pests away.
Tiki torches and strings of lights—provided they are away from the movie screen and projector—are great decoration ideas.
Additionally, providing some kind of light near the “concessions” and around the entrances to your house is necessary for safely walking around at night.
TIP: in case of rain, ask that your guests bring an umbrella or have a covered tent close by to allow guests some shelter. Set up a second tent to cover the projector and screen. Movie night doesn’t have to end just because of a little drizzle!
See some more Outdoor Movie Night event inspiration on our Outdoor Movie Pinterest board!
Devora is the Director of Sales at BG Events & Catering.