14 Must-Haves to Host the Ultimate Backyard Family Movie Night

backyard movie night popcorn candy hand table
Photo: Rebekah Molloy

Bring the big screen to your backyard! We've got DIY ideas for transforming your backyard into a family-friendly movie night. Serve some concession stand favorites and cozy up for a movie under the stars.

01 of 14

The Seating Setup

backyard movie night setup pillows blankets
Rebekah Molloy

Scatter cushions and seats around the backyard for the adults, while the kiddos grab smaller pillows and blankets. If you're setting up in the grass, you can even bring out a few sleeping bags for the kids to get extra cozy during the movie! Baskets from the house keep everything organized while oversize balloons add a pop of color and make the night feel more special.

02 of 14

Concession Stand

backyard movie night concession stand popcorn
Rebekah Molloy

Assemble a grab-and-go concession stand on a long table. For an extra fun touch, wheel in a theater-style popcorn cart (you may be able to rent one for the day if you don't want to invest in buying one). Sparkling twinkle lights are a must for lighting that won't compete with the movie.

03 of 14

Set the Scene

backyard movie night theater tents cushions
Rebekah Molloy

You don't need to go out and buy extra chairs for your movie showing. Easily turn your backyard into an outdoor theater with a scattering of adorable tents, chairs, and blankets. Keep the seating close and hang bright balloons from tree branches, and be sure to set up the snacks near the screen for easy mid-movie munching!

04 of 14

DIY Movie Screen

backyard movie night office projector showtime
Rebekah Molloy

When the lights go down, it's showtime! With the help of an extension cord or outdoor outlet, stream a movie from a laptop or office-standard projector. Or, go all-out with this DIY outdoor movie screen made from a few PVC pipes and a drop cloth.

05 of 14

Ticket Garland

backyard movie night diy yellow ticket garland
Rebekah Molloy

This silver screen-inspired garland is fun, easy, and perfect for decorating your cinema concession stand. To make one, grab a roll of paper tickets and rip off multiple strips of tickets to the desired length (we used four tickets per strip.) Cut a piece of jute rope to the desired length, and layout straight. Fold top ticket or two over jute rope; hot-glue in place to secure. Repeat across jute length, using a ruler, if desired, to evenly space ticket strips.

06 of 14

Mix and Match

backyard movie night kids snacks table
Rebekah Molloy

Let the kiddos (and adults!) create their own custom snack blends. We chose a variety of popular movie theater candies, but you could swap in nuts, fruits, and crackers if you're looking for something a bit healthier.

07 of 14

Colorful Centerpiece

backyard movie night colorful ticket spools centerpiece
Rebekah Molloy

Stack colorful ticket spools for a fun, low-cost centerpiece. Stack the rolls on a tray and finish the display with a vase or jar of colorful cut flowers. We like the look of multi-color ticket rolls for a display that really makes a statement.

08 of 14

DIY Snack Cones

backyard movie night popcorn paper snack cones
Rebekah Molloy

Even if it's just a casual gathering of friends, neighbors, or coworkers, it's easy to turn your backyard into the ultimate summer movie-viewing spot! Since no movie night is complete without popcorn, pop enough for the whole crew just as the guests arrive. Create a clever snack stand with wire pigtail stakes (available at the hardware store) and scrapbook paper. To make, use pliers to widen the circle at top of each wire spiral. Bend each stake stem to a 90-degree, L-shape angle. If desired, spray-paint stakes. Roll scrapbook paper into cone shapes; secure paper cones with tape or glue stick. Stand stakes in a bucket or vase filled with sand or decorative rock.

09 of 14

Popcorn Toppers

backyard movie night homemade popcorn toppers
Rebekah Molloy

Butter is good, but these homemade popcorn seasonings are better. Try our favorite blend: dried basil, garlic salt, Parmesan, and red pepper. In the mood for something sweet? Try sprinkling on a mix of cocoa, cinnamon, and sugar.

10 of 14

Cinema Snacks: Burgers x2

backyard movie night pan burgers
Rebekah Molloy

Two kinds of burgers mean there's something for everyone! We whipped up a batch of lentil veggie burgers and our best-ever hamburgers. As you wait for the grill to heat up, set out a DIY toppings bar with all your favorite burger fixings.

11 of 14

Cinema Snacks: Hot Dogs 8 Ways

backyard movie night grilled hot dogs toppings
Rebekah Molloy

If hamburgers aren't your style, go with hotdogs instead! These dogs are all about the toppings. We've got eight creative ideas for our backyard favorite including a Hawaiian dog, Reuben dog, and a melty mac and cheese dog.

12 of 14

Cinema Snacks: Rolling Root Beet Floats

backyard movie night rolling root beer floats wagon
Rebekah Molloy

It's time for a brief intermission! Wheel a DIY root beer float around and prepare for a round of applause. Fill a galvanized party tub with ice, and place ice cream and root beer bottles in it. Don't forget a scoop and opener. Use plastic glasses to avoid breaking.

13 of 14

Cinema Snacks: DIY S'mores

backyard movie night berry baskets s'mores
Rebekah Molloy

Paper berry baskets round-up classic s'mores ingredients in individual servings for each family member. Prepare them ahead of time so each person can grab their own at intermission before heading to the fire pit to roast their tasty treats. Since this treat can get a bit messy, be sure to keep paper towels or cleaning wipes on hand so movie goers don't have to run inside to wash up.

14 of 14

Silver Screen Sweets

backyard movie night popcorn candy hand table
Rebekah Molloy

It wouldn't be a movie night without popcorn and candy! Set out a mix of classic favorites and small cups for mixing. Try a sweet-salty blend of homemade popcorn, chocolates, and gummy candies.

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