The explosion in popularity of backyard movies over the last decade has seen a proliferation of websites dedicated to this amazing hobby. I started my own website one summer’s morning after waking up after another successful backyard movie party.
At that point I had put on around 15 movie nights outside and was still getting to grips with the processes and planning involved. Since starting the website, I would estimate I have probably hosted around 100 parties at my own home, so thought what better time to put together a list of ways in which you can really impress your guests when they come over.
Before we get started though, I would like to bring your attention to the resources available on this website. I’ve spent a few years now putting this content together, with the intention of helping anybody who is struggling to know what they need to buy, and how they need to use it.
Below are some shortcuts into the most popular areas of the Outdoor Movie Projectors website, giving you quick and easy access into the most relevant information that I believe you will need to know.
Not Sure What Outdoor Movie Projector is Best?
There are hundreds of projectors on the market, with prices ranging from $100 into the thousands. It can be confusing to know what you need to buy so what I’ve done is put together a guide that will help you to choose the best projector for you.
Want to Know What the Best Deals on Projectors Are?
Prices are constantly changing, so it’s hard to know what the best deals are. I’ve made it easier for you with a page containing the current best deals, with prices to suit most budgets. I only offer one projector for each budget range, which will take a lot of the hassle away from your decision-making process. Take a look at those recommended outdoor projectors now so you can make a quick purchase.
Need Help in Planning a Backyard Movie Party?
For detailed information on how you can plan a great event with a checklist of all the things you need to consider, then take a look at my essential guide to planning. It’s a long-post, so give yourself 10 or 15 minutes to read it in full.
Want to Read my 101 Tips for the Best Backyard Movie Party Ever?
I have also compiled a list of 101 tips and tricks to help you host the best ever outdoor movie night. It took me days to put together as I had to dredge the memory banks to put together such as a large list. I was also lucky enough to have input from some of the visitors to this website who have helped build it up into the amazing resource that it has become today. Read the 101 tips now and see if you can think of anything to add?
Thinking About Buying a Used Movie Projector?
This is a topic that I have covered in a lot of depth. I won’t give you my answer here, but instead recommend you read my views on whether or not you should buy a second-hand movie projector for outdoor use. I have also put a checklist in there of things that you should consider if you do decide to buy a used product.
But What About the Best Outdoor Movie Screens?
Don’t fret, as I have also put together a list of the best outdoor movie screens including inflatables and free-standing models. What you choose very much depends on how seriously you are going to be taking this new hobby, as well as your future plans for your backyard movie nights. Take a look at my recommended outdoor screens section and then make your choice on what to buy
So now that’s out of the way, let’s get into my 8 sure fire ways in which you can really impress your backyard movie party guests.
1. Send them a Customized Invite & Decide a Theme
Whether you send your invite via post, by hand, email, or via a social media network, the backyard movie invite is your first opportunity to impress.
Your invite should include the following elements:
- Date of the party
- The address of the venue
- Details on parking
- What the guests need to bring
- Details on any theme
- Details on the food
- An RSVP mechanism
An outdoor movie party is first and foremost a social occasion, giving friends, family, and neighbors the chance to catch up and have fun together.
When they receive an invite from you it’s going to build the excitement up, and hopefully mean that they save the date and put it in the calendar.
It’s also your opportunity to inform them of any theme that your outdoor movie party is going to have. You don’t have to use a theme, but believe me, some of the best parties I have run, have been themed.
Not sure what I mean?
Let me give you an example.
Over the last couple of years there have been new Star Wars films released. To celebrate the release of The Force Awakens movie, I planned a Star Wars movie night and asked the guests to come in Star Wars fancy dress.
My invite was designed using a free Star Wars font that I downloaded from the Internet.
I even had my dog dress up as an Ewok.
The kids and adults all got into the swing of things, and we watched the original Star Wars movie, and had Jedis and Stormtroopers all turning up to my house for the night. It was an amazing event that people still talk about.
2. Have a Red-Carpet Entrance
Nothing says movie night more than a red carpet leading into the backyard.
I’ve got one that I bought for just a few dollars on eBay that leads from the back of our kitchen out into the backyard, all the way up to the seating. I can’t find any currently on eBay but Amazon have some great red carpets on sale which work just perfectly (click here for red carpets on Amazon).
At the end of the red carpet, I have my kids ready as the ticket and invite collectors. It’s a great touch that the kids love doing, and the adults think is super cute too.
As an added element of “theme” I have had my kids build a cardboard ticket office before, which they stand it. They will take the invites from our guests and sometimes even stamp their hands with ink.
3. Use a Pre-Reel Before the Movie Starts
Your guests have come down the red carpet, they have had their invites collected by the kids, and are ready to watch the movie.
But, I am not quite ready yet!
With all backyard movie nights, I like to get the guests to arrive whilst it’s still light to give them time to talk and catch-up and get settled in time for the movie to start once it gets dark.
During this period whilst the guests arrive, I will play something called a pre-reel.
This can be anything really, but some of the better pre-reels I will project onto the screen will be kids cartoons to keep any children at the party entertained, or it will be a DVD of fish swimming around an aquarium.
Because the pre-reel is playing before it gets completely dark, it’s actually quite hard to make out what’s on the screen. For the kids this will mean that it captures their attention as they are trying to figure out what’s playing, and for the adults it simply provides a great back-drop whilst we get ready for night to fall.
During this period, which sometimes last for an hour, I can greet my guests, get them a drink and food, and let them decide whereabouts they are going to sit before the movie starts once it’s dark.
4. Setting Up the Food and Drink
In my backyard we will have picnic or decorating tables set-up where all the food will be laid out. Most of the time it’s light snacks, popcorn, and some vegan or vegetarian options.
I let our guests pick at the food and get themselves comfortable, but also have a self-serve drinks table.
On the table will be various drinks and disposable cups, meaning they can help themselves at any point, saving me the trouble of having to continually re-fill cups during the night.
5. Using a Firepit or Fire
Most of our outdoor movies night take place over the summer, with only a few in winter months. But no matter what the season, I will always have a firepit set-up.
The key is to keep it at least 20 foot away from the projector and screen, as otherwise the ambient light can interfere with the image on the screen, but this hassle is far outweighed by how popular it is with our guests.
It lets them gather around the fire, keep warm if it’s a little chilly, and even toast marshmallows before the movie starts. Just make sure to keep the kids and blankets away from the flames.
Everyone loves a fire, it’s a social thing, don’t ask me why – perhaps it a hark back to primitive times when our ancestors would gather around flames to keep warm and cook.
Whatever the reason, it simply works, and always impresses my backyard movie party guests.
6. Plan an Intermission / Interlude
Half way through the movie, I find a good place to pause, and stop the viewing for 30 minutes. This interlude period lets guests get up and stretch their legs, go to the washroom, get refreshments, or have a quick chat.
As I said, backyard movie parties are social occasions, and sitting down on the grass isn’t always that comfortable, so this intermission always proves very popular.
During the intermission we have sometimes had our guests put on performances, play little party games, or give some funny speeches – especially if the movie night is an event celebration. At a recent party I had two of my kids put on a little comedy show that they had been working on – it made for a great break from the movie and the kids were made up with being the center of attention.
7. Have a Dance Party Once the Movie Ends
Depending on your neighbors and how late the movie ends, I will occasionally use the equipment to have a dance party afterwards.
I will already have speakers and a media player set-up so for me it makes sense to get as much use out of the gear as possible. The best types of speakers for this will tend to be wireless and BluTooth ones – see my recommended outdoor movie night speakers by clicking here.
If the drinks have been flowing during the night, then this dance party can be a great way to end the evening. Simply clear the chairs, blankets, and cushions out of the way and you have your own dancefloor ready to go!
As a further recommendation, make sure that you have a cut-off point to the party that the guests are aware of and always respect your neighbors and any noise legislation.
8. Send them a Digital Photo Album
One the outdoor movie night has finished, I will compile photography from the night, and upload the image to a social media account or photo sharing website.
Throughout the evening, from the point the guests arrive, to the time they leave, I will be taking photos as people love to look back on the memories.
It really makes the party a night to remember, especially if you themed the event and there was fancy dress being worn.
Want to Plan Your Own Night?
Backyard movie parties are a great way to have fun and spend time with friends and family. You might also be interested in some other guides I have put together recently to help make sure you plan the perfect event – you can access some of those on the links below: