Movie marathons are one of the best bonding moments you can share with friends and family. For a playful twist on the classic “movie night in,” try holding an outdoor movie party. This concept might sound new, but it’s actually been around for a long time—ever since drive-in theaters were invented in the 1930s! Drive-in theater moviegoers loved being able to watch movies in the privacy of their cars, and being free to talk about the movie with their companions as it was screening. Now you can use this guide to learn how to host your own outdoor movie party. Happy viewing!
What You Need
- A big white blanket or tablecloth to serve as the screen
- A projector with speakers than can connect to the laptops or flasjhdrives
- Blankets or picnic mats
- Throw pillow
- Lanterns with tea lights
- Folding chairs
The Week Before
- Send out invites. Make a Facebook group invite and provide specific details of the party. If you want to go retro, make an actual invite and mail them to your friends. Make it look like a movie ticket to go with the theme. Also, don’t forget to ask your guests to suggest movies when they RSVP!
- If you’re planning to use a projector, test it with your chosen movies to make sure everything goes smoothly on the day itself.
- Plan the menu. Be considerate of any dietary restrictions your guests may have, like allergies and gluten sensitivity.
On The Day
- Set up the venue. Hang a white sheet (we used an old tablecloth) on a clothesline. Tie weights (such as little buckets filled with pebbles) on the bottom corners of the sheet to keep it still. Place the projector in a location where it won’t topple over. Lay blankets and picnic mats on the ground, and scatter lots of throw pillows to keep it cushy.
- An hour before your guests arrive, set up the “concession stand.” Go big and set up a D-I-Y snack bar where your guests can make their own nachos and hotdogs—be sure to provide plenty of condiments and toppings! Remember that the food should be easy to eat, and not messy. Put popcorn and sweets in large bowls, and provide small containers (like cupcake cups) so your guests can serve themselves. Don’t forget paper plates and napkins!
- Insects are not invited! To avoid unwanted pests, strategically place tea lights in and around the snack bar and the viewing area. Just don’t put them in places where they can fall and cause a fire. If the audience includes young kids, you can put glows sticks in paper cups instead.
- BYOB—bring your own blanket! You can ask guests to bring blankets, pillows, or small folding chairs.
- Don’t forget to provide insect repellent for your guests.
- “Waterproof” your mats and blankets by laying a sheet of tarp underneath them.
- Place the snack bar near the viewing area so your guests don’t have to get up during the movie.
- Have a plan B. Have an alternate location in case it rains.
Need snacks to enjoy while watching your movie marathon?