10 Tips for Throwing the Ultimate Backyard Movie Night

With only 330 drive-in movie theaters still operating in the U.S., chances are there isn’t one near you. So what’s the next best thing to visiting a drive-in? Throwing your own backyard movie night party in the comfort of your yard!

And they’re not just for kids. We guarantee by following these 10 tips for hosting your own outdoor movie party that attendees of all ages will have a great time.

Here’s everything you need to know about hosting the ultimate backyard movie party.

1. Gather Equipment

Outdoor movie events require a bit of work setting up the necessary equipment, but it isn’t too complicated. Here’s a list of what you’ll need to create your backyard theater.


The first step is determining what to use for a screen and its size. You can project a movie pretty much onto any smooth surface including your garage door or a white sheet hanging from a clothesline.

For the clearest and most saturated picture; however, a portable free-standing screen is your best best. They are available in many sizes to accommodate any size space.


Find a projector that’s compatible with a laptop or SD card so you can stream your movie or play one from a DVD.


Some projectors have built-in speakers, but if yours doesn’t, you’ll need to splurge on portable speakers so that everyone can hear the movie. Be mindful of your neighbors when setting the audio for your film; it needs to be loud enough for guests to hear but not so loud it disrupts your neighborhood.

Extension Cords

Keep some extra-long extension cords handy for any parts of your theater that aren’t battery operated.

Test all of the equipment before guests arrive to ensure everything is connected properly and your movie will screen without any glitches.

2. Choose a Movie (Or Two)

Perhaps the most fun part about hosting a backyard movie party is choosing the film. Consider the age range of guests when deciding upon an appropriate movie to screen. Young children in attendance will require family-friendly flicks.

You may want to try a film that appeals to a wide age range like a Disney or Pixar production or a classic movie such as Star Wars.

3. Display a Marquee

Create a theater marquee that announces what you’ll be playing and the start time. You can make your own using your home computer and a printer or purchase a reusable marquee that lights up and includes letters.

4. Set up Seating

Blankets, pillows, and folding or cushy patio chairs all make appropriate seating for an outdoor movie. Some of your guests may choose to bring their own seats. If you’re playing the movie in your driveway, chairs are the way to go to keep guests off the hard concrete.

You may also want to set out small tables where guests can keep their food and drinks.

5. Keep Bugs at Bay

It’s a given that plenty of insects will be drawn to the lighting and the scent of people and food at your outdoor movie shindig. Keep them away by lighting citronella, lemongrass, or lavender candles and making bug repellent available.

6. Prepare Plenty of Snacks

Popcorn is a must for any backyard movie party. Set up an electric air popper to keep the supply going. You can also set up a popcorn bar for your guests. Include melted butter, salt, and a variety of powdered popcorn seasoning like cheese, herb, ranch, cinnamon, and other flavors that attendees can sprinkle on kernels.

Pizza and hotdogs also make great movie snacks, but you may also opt to make appetizers or set out cheese, crackers, veggies, fruit, and dip. Any kind of finger food is a great match for a backyard movie party.

Don’t forget to supply plenty of movie theater candy, such as Twizzlers, Raisinettes, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and other goodies. If you have a fire pit, place supplies like marshmallows and roasting sticks out so your guests can make s’mores.

Stock a cooler with plenty of beverages including water and soda. Beer and wine can go into a separate cooler for adult guests. Provide plenty of napkins, plates, and cups for attendees.

7. Provide Unbreakable Wine Glasses

Supply unbreakable glasses made of plastic or silicone for your adult wine-drinking guests so you don’t have to worry about kids knocking one over or anyone stepping on broken glass.

8. Put out a Trash Bin

Keep a trash bin and recycling container nearby so guests can properly dispose of plates, cups, popcorn buckets, and other waste. Sticking to disposable cutlery and plates will make clean-up a lot easier.

9. Light the Way

Your guests may need a lighted path to your house or the driveway. Use walkway lights, LED garden lights (that can be inserted directly into the ground), or battery-operated fairy lights so they won’t trip over cords.

For some added fun, hand out glow sticks and necklaces to the kids attending your party.

10. Play a Movie-Themed Trivia Game

Before or after you air the movie, host a film or Oscars-themed trivia game. Give away a movie-themed package to the winner (or winning team), such as movie theater gift cards and popcorn.

Follow These Tips for the Best Backyard Movie Night

Summer and movies were made for each other, and hosting a backyard movie night brings your friends and family members together for something a little more special than the usual barbecue. By following these ten tips above, you’ll ensure your guests will have a fun and safe evening.

For more entertaining tips, read our latest lifestyle posts to help you learn about other types of fun themed parties you can host at your home.

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