A few years ago we used a pop up screen, which worked fine, however, a little bit of wind would cause some issues. Last year, we got smart and decided to make our own screen. My husband purchased black out cloth, which I laid out on the lawn and cut to the size we wanted. He hung brackets from the back of the house where we normally have our screen placed, cut a PVC pipe the length of the screen, secured it with high-duty Velcro so we could take it on and off easily and slid the pipe with the screen into the brackets. We weighted the bottom with another PVC pipe to avoid any problems with the wind.
We had a small, pocket projector, but wanted something bigger. There are so many to choose from now, but a projector that can hook up to your computer, iPad, or DVD player is key.
We used to rent a big popcorn cart every year, and all in we could have probably purchased two of our own by now. So we finally broke down and bought one ourselves and I love it! We not only use it for movie night (duh) but we also use it for other big parties like birthdays. It comes apart in three places for easy storage in between uses.
We always choose a theme. One year it was simply “a night at the movies,” another year it was an underwater adventure. We always make snacks and/or themed popcorn and favors to go with this theme. This year the kid’s movie is Sing and so my son and I made microphones filled with candy, complete with favor tags including the characters from Sing and “Enjoy the Show!” We also made cupcake toppers for a dessert.
We start the evening early, just before dusk with a movie for the kids. The food and drinks are flowing and the party is in full swing. The grown ups hang out and the kids enjoy the movie before bedtime. Then, some families leave to go tuck in the kids (we tuck ours in at this time), and then we put in a movie for the grown ups. Last year it was Ghostbusters, the year before that it was Back to the Future but there is always something for everyone.
Food is important for every party. Aside from the popcorn, we always have hot dogs, movie candy, and a veggie tray at the very least. Anything (minus the vegetables) that you would find at a traditional movie theater. Drinks are also key. We always have two drink buckets with lots of ice, one for the grown ups and one for the kids.
One year I made miniature cars out of cardboard boxes for the kids to sit in, but no matter what we do, we always put out blankets and indoor/outdoor pillows along with lawn chairs so people can sit comfortably and watch the double feature.