How To Host a Backyard Movie Night

Transform your backyard into an outdoor movie theater. Learn how to make an unforgettable experience with the right refreshments and more.
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There's nothing like the thrill and sense of community that comes from hosting a backyard movie night. Nestle under a cozy blanket, surrounded by loved ones, as the sun sets and the anticipation builds. From family get-togethers to date nights or gatherings with friends, it's the perfect way to spend an evening under the stars.

Plus, if you have little ones at home, hosting a backyard movie night can be one of the best outdoor activities to entertain them. Not only do they get to enjoy a movie, but they also get to experience the fresh air and starry night sky with all their favorite snacks on hand.

Setting up a backyard movie night might seem complicated, but the effort is truly worth the outcome. With some planning, creativity, and a couple of essential items, you can create a magical movie night that will have your friends and family asking when the next one will be.

Choose a Projector

When it comes to your backyard movie night, choosing the right projector is key, and there are a few things to consider when browsing your options:

      • Brightness: Your projector should be bright enough to compete with the outdoor light. Look for projectors with high lumens (the unit that measures brightness) to ensure you get a clear picture.
      • Price: Outdoor projectors come in different price ranges, from budget-friendly to quite expensive. So, figure out your budget first and then find the best projector within that range.
      • Device compatibility: Evaluate whether or not your projector can connect to your preferred media source, whether a DVD player, laptop, or streaming device.
      • Screen size: You want your screen to be big enough for everyone to see, so choose a projector with a good throw ratio (the distance required between the projector and screen).

A quick tip: test out your chosen projector before purchasing to ensure it meets your expectations. Some stores might have restrictions and not allow you to take a product out of its box without purchasing it first. If so, ask if they have a display or demo unit you can see in action to ensure the projector meets your expectations.


People sitting around blue Stanley Cooler eating popsicles

Your movie screen can be as simple or sophisticated as you prefer. There are various types of screens for outdoor movies, including:

      • Inflatable screens: These are easily set up and come in different sizes. They're also portable, so you can use them wherever you want.
      • Foldable screens: These screens are more sturdy than inflatable ones and can be easily folded for storage.
        Projector screens: These are usually made of PVC or fabric and are more durable than inflatable screens. They're also relatively easy to set up and come in various sizes.
      • DIY options: If you want to get creative, you can make your own outdoor movie screen using a white sheet or curtain and hanging it between two trees or on a fence.

When placing your screen, avoid areas with bright lights that could interfere with visibility. Consider the angle and height of the screen and arrange seating accordingly. If you're using a projector on a stand, ensure it's stable and won't be easily bumped or knocked over during the movie.

Audio setup

When creating an immersive movie-watching experience, great visuals are just the beginning. The right sound system can make all the difference. Bluetooth speakers offer the convenience of wireless sound, allowing you to place them anywhere without the hassle of wires. Wired speakers often provide superior sound quality, precisely delivering every nuance and detail. Of course, they require a bit more setup, but the result is worth it.

No matter your route, the key is ensuring the audio is loud and clear enough. After all, you want everyone in your audience to feel fully immersed in the movie magic, with every sound and dialogue crystal clear.


Now, for the best part of the night — choosing the movie. Choosing the right film is a delicate balance between finding something everyone will enjoy and catering to the intended audience.

For a family-friendly backyard movie night, opt for a classic animated film or a feel-good comedy. If it's a romantic date night, choose a romance or rom-com you both love (or one of your favorites if it's your partner's first time watching). Themed movie nights can also be fun, such as a holiday film fest with Christmas movie classics or a festive fall gathering with the best scary movies of all time.

Backyard Movie Night Concession Ideas

Sitting on grassy hillside drinking wine from Stanley tumbler

An outdoor movie night is not just about the film; it's also a unique opportunity to level up your snack game and create a full-fledged cinema experience right in your backyard.


When it comes to outdoor snacks, comfort and convenience should be your guiding principles. Foods that can be easily shared and consumed without utensils are ideal. Popcorn is a movie night staple and for a good reason. It's easy to make and share, and it doesn't come with wrappers that could potentially litter your outdoor space. Other options could include chips and dip, veggie platters, or a cheese board. Or keep it traditional and go for a campfire to make s'mores or cook hot dogs.

Keep snacks fresh and at the right temperature with vacuum-sealed food jars. Thermos containers help maintain the warmth of soups and chilis, while insulated coolers and ice buckets are ideal for cold drinks and desserts. Sealable plastic containers prevent popcorn and chips from getting stale.


Having drinks in a cooler or jug makes it super easy for everyone to grab a refreshment during the movie. Consider a fast flow water jug or insulated coolers and jugs to keep drinks cold while you enjoy the movie.

To keep your hot beverages warm and cozy, vacuum-insulated bottles. You also can't go wrong with the Everyday Go Tumbler — perfect for sipping on apple cider or mulled wine during a fall movie night. You can also enjoy cold fall cocktails for a festive touch that will stay nicely chilled in the same insulated containers.

Why a Backyard Movie Night Is the Perfect Evening Plan

Hosting a backyard movie night is more than just a fun activity; it's a unique way to spend quality time with loved ones and create cherished memories. But beyond that, there are a few other reasons why it's a great evening plan:

      • Provides quality time with loved ones amidst busy schedules and away from digital distractions.
      • Offers a budget-friendly alternative to movie theater trips with initial investments in a projector and screen while only needing to account for movie and snack expenses.
      • It adds that extra touch to special occasions like birthdays or date nights.

So, gear up for an unforgettable evening under the stars, and let your backyard transform into the ultimate cinematic escape.