Hosting Your Own Backyard Movie Night

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.

backyard movie night

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.

backyard movie night

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.

the best hamburger ever

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:


  • 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. Smile

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  1. What a fabulous creative idea!! We have thought about this in the past , but always thought the cost was a bit high closer to $600 here… but your fabulous solution has made it a possibilty.. thanks for sharing… hope all is well .. and the boys are getting off to school (I know it will be a hard time for you .. but hang in their – they’ll be home for Thanks Giving before you know it!!)..xo HHL

  2. Seriously, how fun is this?! I wish I had a backyard to host one of these 🙂

  3. I cannot wait for it to cool down here in NC so that we can start up our backyard movie nights. We have had a projector for several years now and have hosted many of my girls’ soccer and cheerleading teams and friends. The only problem we have is the volume. We just can’t get it loud enough. (I need to figure out how to fix this problem soon!) We did buy an inflatable screen, but it was too light and we just had a lot of headaches with it standing up and not moving so we went to the white sheet thrown over a soccer net. So much fun!!!

  4. Darling and clever!! My fave is the ticket toothpick on the burger. Could you share your SIL’s recipe for the pasta salad? Looks mouthwatering!

  5. So love this idea…..I would love to do this when I move. Thanks for the awesome ideas and beautiful inspiration!

  6. Such a cute idea!!!

  7. I love this idea; I know your guests must’ve had a fabulous time! It has just occurred to me that you have no mosquitoes, which would be the reason I would never attempt a backyard, after-dark event. I intend to be jealous of your bug-free life until the leaves start changing here!

  8. I’ve always wanted to host such a gathering. You are so darn clever! I love,love,love this idea. So much so, that I’m going to borrow it. 🙂


  9. I just had my 4th annual ice cream social at my house. (I used your pineapple sherbert as one of my flavors this year.) We also set up a projector to show movie on the back of the garage for the kids. They loved it!!! We are planning on doing a movie night soon. BTW- Ben & Jerry’s ice cream book is awesome. I use it all the time.

  10. How wonderful and fun. Our grandchildren would love this. Big Hugs!!!

  11. Lisa ~ If the projector you have doesn’t have a DVD player with it, you hook up speakers top the lap top where the DVD is playing. We used our 2 little but strong computer speakers and a sub woofer for added base. 🙂

    T&CMom ~ You’re right, no mosquitoes that I could see and they normally love me! 🙂

    Jo ~ I’d love to hear about your party afterwards. 🙂

    Krista ~ I hope you liked the sherbet. It is one of my favorites. 🙂

  12. Love this post! AND the food looks delish!

  13. This is such a cool idea!! Maybe next year… Do you share your SIL’s macaroni salad recipe? Looks delicious!!

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