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How to Host an Unforgettable (and Affordable!) Outdoor Movie Night

Two girls watching a movie in their yardTwo girls watching a movie in their yard

Action, adventure, comedy, and comradery: Nothing’s more magical than sharing a big-screen experience under the stars. But just like your favorite movies, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes before the big premiere.

Think of your space like it’s a movie set: Every element must be carefully considered so that everyone can relax and enjoy the show. Stick to the script, and you’ll be able to host your own backyard blockbusters without breaking the bank.

Set the Scene

Before it’s time to roll out the red carpet for family and friends, start by deciding where to place your screen—you can set a bedsheet or polyester screen against the side of your home or a large shed. Alternatively, you can hang it from an awning, clothesline, roof, or pergola—or even attach it to a pair of freestanding poles for easy setup and teardown. Make sure you leave plenty of space in front for seating your guests!

Collage: Dad setting up Suncast Adirondack chairs, daughter and son sitting on cushionsCollage: Dad setting up Suncast Adirondack chairs, daughter and son sitting on cushions

Five-Star Seating

Be sure you have enough comfy seats to accommodate the entire audience! Remember to keep plenty of pillows and blankets tucked away in case the temperature gets too chilly—or the movie gets too scary to watch! Chairs with hidden storage are a perfect way to keep a cushion or cozy sweater close at hand. Spread a blanket or two out on the grass for those who want to lie down or enjoy their popcorn picnic-style!

Popping corn over a firepitPopping corn over a firepit

Stock Up on Snacks

Speaking of popcorn—don’t skimp on the snacks! Stock up on your family’s favorite treats and set up a self-service concession stand to keep everyone’s sweet tooth satisfied while they enjoy the show. Popcorn is a must (cook it over the firepit for added fun and ambiance!), and grab some other movie theater staples like candy and soda pop to really bring the big-screen experience to life!

Movie projector sitting atop a Suncast deck boxMovie projector sitting atop a Suncast deck box

Gear Up & Geek Out

Finding the right projector to fit for your space and budget can be intimidating. The good news is you have plenty of affordable options (like, under $100 affordable!), so there’s no need to spend an arm and a leg. We recommend looking into LED projectors, since they’ll last a lot longer than bulb-based alternatives. Test out your setup, including the distance and elevation of the projector to the screen so that your image is large, level, and luminous!

You probably already own a device like a laptop that you can hook up to play your favorite DVDs or connect to an online streaming service. Last but not least, get an external audio device (your favorite Bluetooth speaker will do nicely) and make sure you have all the necessary cables and extension cords handy.

Lights, Camera, Action!

When your space is set up and the sun starts to set, there’s only one thing left to do—sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!

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