One of my all-time favorite summer activities is watching movies outside. So, along with going to free outdoor screenings locally, I've hosted a backyard movie night the past two summers (this year with my roommates as co-hosts and both years with a ton of help from my amazing parents).
Here are my top 10 tips for hosting a fabulous backyard movie night of your own:
1. Invite a fun-loving crowd! It might get a little warm, it might get a little chilly, and there will definitely be bugs involved...you never know what can happen with an outdoor event. Invite people who know how to go with the flow, so you don't have to stress out about it.
2. Set up outdoor lighting to create a festive atmosphere. I love to use globe lights! Keep it simple by hanging them from the fence, a tree, the patio overhang...whatever structures are already in place. You can attach them with a staple gun or duct tape.
3. Spring for some movie-themed props. Oriental Trading Company has a great selection or just hit up your local party goods store. I borrowed the old-fashioned looking popcorn machine, which was so much fun, and then had different seasonings guests could sprinkle on.
4. Before the movie starts, plan some low-key activities. Who doesn't love glow-in-the-dark games? There are tons of great ideas on Pinterest, such as glow-in-the-dark bowling with bottled water (pictured below).
5. Use fresh flowers to make things look more festive! For this display, I bought 2 bouquets of flowers, and my mom helped by cutting each of them down to fit these milk bottles (lids removed).
6. Provide yummy refreshments for before and during the movie. We grilled hot dogs, brats and chicken sausages and had dinner beforehand, but if guests are arriving later, you can have popcorn and a candy tray arranged with movie-theater favorites. And we served the Pioneer Woman's cherry limeade in a fancy beverage dispenser for a special drink!
7. Double-check the weather ahead of time. The wind really started to pick up right before our party, thunder was roaring, and we worried that we'd have to move everything inside. Thankfully, the storm blew over, but it never hurts to be "weather alert", as we like to say in Oklahoma.
8. Lawn games are always a hit! If the sun's still up, set up games like backgammon, volleyball, croquet, etc. for some silliness before the show.
9. Add touches of humor with your decor. I grouped this plastic toy animal with a few others in front of a "Party Animals Welcome" sign by the popcorn. Guests were also greeted by a chalkboard sign on the porch that said, "Business in the Front, Party in the Back!"
10. Pick a classic movie that everyone can enjoy. We watched "The Sandlot" this year, and it was perfect. Last year, it was one of the older Indiana Jones movies. I like looking for ideas at different cities' outdoor summer movie lists like this one.