a couple cuddle on a blanket in front of a projector for an outdoor movie night

How to Plan The Perfect Outdoor Movie Night

Summer. There’s nothing quite as perfect as an outdoor movie night under lantern lights in the park or backyard. Think of the possibilities! Spending time with friends and neighbors, circling the kids up on a picnic blanket with their favorite snacks, and taking advantage of those slow, warm nights. With the right technology and a bit of backyard magic, you can transform your outdoor space into a movie experience to remember!

Open Spaces That Are Perfect for Outdoor Movie Night 

Let’s start with the basics. A cozy outdoor movie theater includes all the right elements, including the perfect space. Ideally, it could be your own backyard. But if that space isn’t big enough, you’ll need another large open area, ideally a grassy park in your community with a pavilion. Some kind of power hook-up to run your sound equipment and projector might also come in handy. For seating arrangements, it’s easiest to have people bring their own folding chairs, floor pillows, and blankets (and ideally nothing so tall that it would obstruct the view of someone behind you!) 

The Right Equipment 

Sound and picture quality are essentials for the perfect outdoor movie night. And selecting the right equipment can seem tricky, but it doesn’t need to be! Outdoor movie projectors can range in cost and quality. If you don’t have one, you can crowdsource one from a friend, rent it, or consider making the investment to buy one for future events! 

Once you have a projector picked out, locate your power source and pick up a few extension cords if necessary to run the rest of your equipment, like speakers for theater-like sound quality. Bluetooth speakers are a great option to make setup less of a hassle. 

A media player like a laptop is essential to access your streaming service of choice: Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBOMax, Disney Plus, or Apple TV. And beyond that, all that’s left is a viewing screen and you’re on your way! 

Soft Lighting for Intermissions

An outdoor movie night is a relaxing experience as long as you have the right lighting. If it’s too bright, it could interfere with viewing quality. Too dark and your moviegoers will have a hard time getting up and about for snack refills, bathroom breaks, and more. Unless you have landscape lights already installed, consider adding some additional light sources to your backyard or park space to set the tone. Flameless LED candles work great for lining an outdoor path. String lights across a patio or pavilion area can help to highlight snack tables and drinks. And lanterns in a row can create an aisle through the middle of the lawn for antsy moviegoers to get up and stretch their legs. Did someone say intermission break? You decide what’s right for the mood and go for it!

Candles to Keep Mosquitoes at Bay

Mosquitos are those unwanted guests that inevitably show up as part of an outdoor movie night. But have no fear! Citronella candles work wonders at keeping mosquitos at bay. Otherwise, Tiki torches or something similar can provide enough haze to discourage pesky bugs. This also can add to the overall mood and lighting ambiance of the evening, especially if you have a theme. 

Find a Crowd-Pleasing Film

If you want to read the room before your main event, send out an email or a text to your invited guests and take an informal poll of what your moviegoers want to see. It’s easiest to provide a few options to vote on for a quick selection. When choosing for a group, or varied audience with kids, it’s important to consider ratings, thematic elements that might be scary for kids, and the noise level of your film so as not to disturb neighbors. A positive and proactive way to notify your neighbors that you will be hosting a party is to invite them first. That way, in case of noise, they will at least be aware of the event. If you’re having trouble coming up with a movie selection, here are 47 great choices for an outdoor movie night. 

Snack Attack! Find the Perfect Crunch

Most movie-goers love food that goes crunch. Settling into your seat with a bag of popcorn or your favorite chips is an essential part of the experience. Movie theater snacks span well beyond red licorice and popcorn, but there’s a reason these are classics. Pack out your backyard with coolers of soda and seltzer water for those especially warm nights. Borrow or rent a popcorn maker if you’d like, or buy bags of pre-popped gourmet popcorn for easy cleanup. 

Need snack or refreshment ideas? Here are some fun ideas for simple snacks anyone would love. Molly Yeh from The Food Network’s “Girl Meets Farm” has some incredible ideas for drinks, candy, and more for hosting an outdoor movie night. Make it as simple or extravagant as you like! 

Dress for Cooler Temps

Once the sun goes down, so do the temperatures. In addition to blankets, it’s important to tell moviegoers to layer up as the night cools off. Guests can bring sweaters, outdoor blankets, and even a sleeping bag or two for little ones! This one is of course climate-dependent, and you might just be lucky enough to live in one of those places where the temperature stays comfortable late into the evening. Place a few baskets around the yard with outdoor blankets for guests in case they forget to bring one. 

Pahlisch Welcomes Summer With Community Events 

At Pahlisch, we know we’re not just building homes. We’re creating communities that are designed with intention. With amenities like pools, clubhouses, playgrounds, and gyms, Pahlisch creates inviting communal spaces for people to gather together for events like outdoor movie nights.

If you’re interested in joining a Pahlisch community, contact a Pahlish New Home Specialist to take a tour of a model home near you today. Or sign up for our newsletter for regular updates on our new home builds and a vast selection of communities. 



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