A few years ago we hosted a backyard movie night for the high school marching band. With over 80 teenagers the evening was a lot of fun and something I always wanted to do again for our family and friends.
Not knowing what we needed back then we rented the equipment for the night which included an inflatable screen, speakers and a projector.
The menu for the night was pure concession stand nostalgia: hotdogs in paper boats, boxed candy, soda in paper cups with lids and straws. We even rented a popcorn machine and served the popcorn from paper tubs.
A fellow band mom had the great idea of grilling the hotdogs before the band members arrived and keeping them warm thorough out the evening in the crock pot. This worked beautifully and freed us from being behind the grill while the movie was playing. The kids were able to help themselves to whatever they wanted during the night.
Fast forward to an August night this summer ~ instead of renting the screen, projector and sound system this time around we made the screen from a twin-sized sheet, used pvc pipes for the support ($20), hooked up a couple of our own speakers and a projector we use for work presentations. With my techno sons at the helm, my laptop was hooked up to run the DVD. It turned out to be a great system. What’s especially nice is we can set up again anytime without the expense of a rental which runs $200 for the night.
Our homemade screen (shown here the morning after and missing a few clips) was anything but fancy and I had my doubts when my husband came home from Lowe’s with long pvc pipes a couple hours before our guests were to arrive but in the dark all you see is the movie playing not the pipe supports or the few wrinkles in the sheet that were visible during daylight.
In the future, I’d like to grommet the sheet so it can be easily put up to the support frame with a rope but surprisingly a few black metal clips from Staples with string worked perfectly well. Even the perfectionist in me was quite impressed.
The simple menu for our friends and family movie night included my recipe for the Best BBQ Burgers with brioche buns I purchased from a local restaurant called Hanna’s. The buns have become my secret weapon and are incredibly delicious and add tremendously to any bun worthy meal.
To accompany the burgers we served macaroni salad (my SIL’s recipe and the best I’ve ever tasted), grilled local corn (husks on until charred, the corn will be perfectly cooked and the silks will slide right off when the husks are peeled away). We also had home grown tomatoes, vegetables and fresh lemonade. For dessert, my guys made 4 flavors of ice cream to choose from the day before and of course, popcorn.
“Lights! Camera! Action!”
I’ve listed some resources to get you started to host your own backyard movie night:
- Learn from fellow backyard theater enthusiasts – Backyard Theater.com
- Blast from the past intermission clips & movies – Movies Unlimted.com
- Boxed candy – Smart & Final; Bed, Bath & Beyond; Costco
- Popcorn boxes in bulk – FSW.com, Smart & Final
- Popcorn boxes in smaller quantities- party stores, Sur laTable.com
- Popcorn machine rental – Google for your area.
- Burger baskets – Surl a Table.com
- Basket liners – Sur la Table.com
- Great ice cream book – Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream & Dessert Book
- Great online ice cream recipes – Williams-Sonoma.com
- An OC rental source for movie equipment set-ups – PopUpPictureShow.com
- The “money is no object” outdoor theater system – Frontgate.com
- Set up all power equipment before dark. This includes a sound and screen check.
- Remind quests to “B.Y.O.C.&J.” (chair and Jacket)
- Use the popcorn boxes as holders for small flower vases. This ties in your movie theme on your tables and makes cute decorations.
- Print out a movie ticket image, secure to a sandwich pick and stick it into the top of the burgers for fun.
- Use burger baskets to make your meals more portable when you have larger a crowd and not the table space to sit everyone. The baskets also make great serving pieces for varieties of chips or individual corn-on-the-cob holders.
- Have something warm for your guests to drink if the evening turns chilly.
I’d love to know if you’ve hosted or attended a backyard movie night and what ideas you have to make the night fun.