15 Best DIY Backyard Movie Night Ideas – How To Set Up A Backyard Movie Night

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Who says you have to cram the kids in the car and buy expensive movie tickets? You can avoid the cinema lines and set up your own cinema in the comfort of your backyard for an evening the whole family will enjoy. Not only will this fun DIY idea spark creativity in kids and adults, but it could also be the start of an unforgettable family tradition. Customize your movie experience and make the most of summer with this one DIY backyard movie nights

It can be hard to think of new kid-friendly summer activities, especially after the first few weeks of summer vacation are over and the kids start complaining about boredom. Try something new with a backyard movie night, which can be as simple or elaborate as you want. Depending on how much time and money you want to spend, you could host a big 4th of July event where you invite friends and neighbors, embrace the movie night theme for your kid’s birthday party, or just make it a day full of activities for everyone in the family to help put together, then enjoy the fruits of your labor once the sun goes down.

Ready to plan an award-winning backyard movie night? We share tips for setting up a DIY screen and cozy seating, plus creative ideas for serving up movie snacks and summer drinks for kids and adults. After that, all you have to do is sit back and select a movie to watch – which is admittedly the hardest part.

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While you can certainly buy an outdoor movie screen for your backyard, it’s also easy to set up your own DIY version using items you already have around the house. For this setup you need a shower rod, two plant hangers and a white curtain or sheet. Install the rod between the hangers and straighten the curtain so that the film is projected without distortion.

… Or buy a portable projector screen

Alternatively, you can get a portable (and foldable) projector screen for under $100. This one from Getco Tech makes movie night easy and luxurious with a seamless setup process that takes just a few minutes and a 100-inch screen with a 160-degree viewing angle. No tools are required and the frame folds down to fit in an included carry bag, meaning you can have a movie night in your backyard or at a campsite.

Collect your outdoor theater seats and tables

Once you have the basics (a screen and a projector), you can happily turn your backyard into the open-air movie theater of your dreams. If you have outdoor chairs or couches, dust them off and take them out for the season if you haven’t already. Or go for a classic Adirondack chair that will look great both on your movie screen and in your backyard on an ordinary summer afternoon.

Buy Adirondack Chairs

Mix and Match cozy blankets and pillows

Let the kids go on a scavenger hunt around the house and collect outdoor-friendly blankets, poufs, small rugs, pillows, and even pool floats. The best part about using seating you already have is that you don’t have to buy anything extra to create a cozy space that’s perfect for a movie marathon. If you prefer not to put your best linens in the grass, you can also buy some outdoor blankets that will come in handy for picnics in the park and more.

Buy outdoor blankets

Hang up movie night decorations

Once you’ve oriented the general layout of your movie seats (and blankets) to the screen, you can decide on a strategy where to place string lights, hanging planters, or anything else for an extra personal touch. If you’re showing a specific movie for a birthday party or holiday, consider decorating your backyard in keeping with the theme!

Shop Watermelon String Lights

Pack a picnic table with snacks

Everyone has their favorite movie snack that they buy at the concession stand before going to their seats. Whether it’s sour candies or buttery popcorn, you can easily offer the same treats (for less!) at your backyard movie night. Toss your family’s favorite candies into a bowl or set up a s’mores stall with graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate bars. Would you like to dine outside before the show? Try making some of these easy picnic recipes.


Include individual portable concession stands

Whether you have a smaller crowd for a backyard movie night, or want to make it easy for yourself and the kids to enjoy your snacks and drinks while watching the movie, with a portable “concession stand” (also known as a tray with legs) is a clever hack for your outdoor cinema setup. Use the same trays you would for breakfast in bed, or find an affordable set on Amazon if you don’t already have one.

Shop Foldable Bamboo Tray Tables

Set up a self-service popcorn stand

Here’s another cute idea for getting creative with materials you probably already have. To add this easy DIY snack stand to your movie mix, all you need to do is hang clothespin paper popcorn bags from a trellis. Ta-da! Self-service snacks that won’t disturb others when watching the movie.

Buy popcorn bags

Handing out chocolate bar tickets

While admission to your backyard movie night is free, make sure all the kids have one of these “tickets” to a punny chocolate bar to the afterparty. We’ve done the work for you by creating a free template, so all you need to do is print, cut, paste and enjoy.

Grab the Printable Movie Night Ticket Template.

Just like everyone has their favorite movie night snack, most of us also have a favorite drink to sip during the movies. Upgrade the family soda experience with these adorable “sippy” cups that even older kids and adults will love. Attach chalkboard labels to glass jars and personalize them with names to avoid confusion. You can also let everyone decorate their own lids as an afternoon activity that will keep no two cups looking alike.

Shop blackboard labels and liquid chalk markers

While you can of course have regular paper straws, why not list these ex-straw alternatives as well? Go one step further and cut the ends of licorice to make sweet sippers.

Shop Twizzlers

Serve Charcuterie for Adults

If your family’s birthday treat is always cupcakes, they’ll love this innovative twist on the traditional movie snack. Instead of scooping cupcake batter into liners, form gooey balls of unsalted butter, mini marshmallows, and plain popcorn with air-popped air, then drizzle with melted chocolate and sprinkle with sprinkles. yum!

Grab the Popcorn “Cupcakes” recipe

Mix some signature summer drinks

It’s always smart to have liquid refreshments nearby for any summer activity, even if the activity in question is more likely to take place after the sun goes down. Prepare homemade lemonade, simple cucumber water or a special alcohol-free concoction and sip back and enjoy.

You can even create signature cocktails and mocktails based on your movie of choice, and display a themed menu on a letter board or mini sign. Need ideas? Confuse Frozen summer slushies or serve a We Don’t Talk About BruNo-Sugar Lemonade.


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