Snacks on a tray in front of a movie night sign.

Love movies? Love the outdoors? Well, what better way than to marry your two loves than for an enjoyable evening with family and friends!

Whether it’s a planned out party or just a whim on a weekend, let your friends at Ocean State Job Lot lead the way in helping you put together what you need to make it as great as possible.

A set up for an outdoor movie night with a screen and comfortable seating on the ground.

Planning Your Outdoor Movie Night

The proof is always in the planning, my friends, right? The day, the venue, the theme, the food, and yes, of course, the movie. Or maybe we should say MOVIES? Could there be a double feature in your future?

If you are planning more than one movie, keep it short. You might want to make the first one kid-friendly to accommodate the younger guests. Reach out to your guests to find out what works best as far as content and time factors.

Choosing the Perfect Date and Movie

This could make or break your event. You don’t want to schedule your movie night up against a holiday or some weekend you know a lot of your friends already have an event on their calendar. Coordinating a date well out in advance could help avoid that.

As for movies to choose from,  picking a theme is your first battle. Some of the more general options are comedy, rom-com, and action. Sticking to something popular is probably a good guideline. Also keep in mind the length of the movie because you don’t want to keep people too late, especially if you have kids involved in the evening.

The Essentials for a Great Outdoor Cinema

Consider what you need for a great outdoor cinema experience. You’ll want to think about the following:

An outdoor movie setup with a retro movie projector and seating set-up

Setting Up Your Outdoor Theater

Try to keep things as simple as you can here. Pick your movie projector and then connect your video source to where you are playing the movie. If it’s an older DVD, you might have to connect a DVD player or laptop. If you’re using a streaming service, it might be a little easier if the projector has wireless access and connectors aren’t necessary.

In either case, you’ll want to make sure you have everything connected, charged, and if you are using wifi, a strong connection.

DIY Movie Screen Ideas

Here’s where you can be creative with how you can show your movie. There’s always the tried and true way of buying a screen to play the movie on. But, there are other DIY ways as well.

You can show the movie on the back or side of your house or shed. You could also build a frame to hang a bedsheet on. Make sure the bedsheet is secure to your frame so it doesn’t blow around during the movie in case you get some wind during the evening. Be careful that your sheet isn’t see through. If it is, you may have to use two sheets.

Optimal Seating Arrangements

First things first, have your guests bring their own chairs. It’ll make cleaning up easier on you at the end of the night. It also keeps expenses down on having to rent chairs for the evening.

You could make things  easier too by having people lay on blankets and pillows or cushions with backs. Those could be cozy and comfy as well.

Finally, spread out as much as you can to get a clear view. That might require spreading out some of the patio furniture you already have. You don’t want to be top of each other during the night as you eat, drink, and watch the movie.

Children watching a movie on blankets and pillows outdoors on a projection screen.

Enhancing the Movie-Watching Experience

Lighting and Ambiance

Have starry lights strung out around the backyard for safety reasons and so that no one walks into each other. It’ll help too with the younger ones who might do a little running as well.

Snack Bar and Refreshments

In addition to a possible main meal, like burgers and hot dogs on the grill, and drinks, think about what you might want to offer your guests as a snack bar. Ocean State Job Lot offers an amazing array of salty snacks, candies, popcorn, nuts, and more. Put out our disposable cups, plates, and dishes to let everyone choose what they want and then head back to their seats to watch the movie just like at the movie theater.

People holding up lit sparklers.

Fun Additions and Activities

Before the movie gets going, have some games to play! Cornhole, horseshoes, sparklers are a few ideas. Make a fun tournament out of it and even gather some prizes for the winners to take home. It could even prove to become an annual event.

Themed Movie Nights

If you plan to do this multiple times during the spring and summer months, you might want to map it out and add in some themes like Action August or Joyous June. Have a suggestion box so that your guests can add in movies that they would like to see down the road.

Tips for a Smooth Movie Night

Be calm. Enjoy the night. No matter how well you plan, we all know that there will be a few bumps in the road. Don’t worry, just ride along with them.

Check the weather. Adjust the volume if there are audio issues. If you’re playing a movie from a streaming service, wifi might buffer a bit. Be patient. Plus, make sure you have extension cords that work as well as plenty of bug spray.

Visit your nearest Ocean State Job Lot to gather up all the goodies and enjoy the movies everyone!