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Why You Should Host a Backyard Movie Night This Weekend


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Summer may be winding down, but there’s still more than enough time to spend having fun with loved ones. One of our favorite ways is with a backyard movie night! Welcome the weekend by watching a movie under the stars with the people you love the most. This easy party guide has everything you need to turn your yard into an outdoor theater — including a snack bar!  

Make Your Own Concession Stand

Movie-night favorites seem extra special with a DIY snack bar created by party pro Jennifer Sbranti ( 

TRY IT: Cover a table with a shower curtain, draping extra fabric on one side to create a backdrop for a “showtime” banner. (To get your own, click on “free printables” at Fill a serving tray with candy (plastic spoons and paper cups make it easy to portion out sweets) and set next to boxes of popcorn and a big bowl of popcorn for guests who want refills!

Serve a Summer Cocktail

A sweet, tart cherry mojito is an unexpected twist on a classic summer sip. Before the party, combine equal parts lime juice, cherry syrup and mojito mix (like Monin Mojito Mix, $13.50, Amazon) in a large Mason jar. To make each cocktail, place 6 mint leaves in a glass, add ice, then pour in 11⁄2 oz. of mojito mixture. Top with 11⁄2 oz. of rum; fill the glass with club soda. Garnish with fruit and mint.

Popcorn Bar

Spice Up Popcorn with a DIY Topping Bar

Popcorn is a crowd-pleaser on its own, but Sbranti’s topping bar makes the snack even more irresistible! In addition to salt and cinnamon sugar, she offered up white Cheddar and kettle corn flavoring (like Kernel Season’s White Cheddar and Kettle Corn seasonings, starting at $10, Amazon). Pour each seasoning into individual salt and pepper shakers from the dollar store, labeling with permanent marker. Need more options? Offer up garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, ranch dressing mix, and cocoa powder.

Inspire Smiles with Themed Accents

It doesn’t take much to create a drive-in theme! For her movie party, lifestyle pro Erin Schrader ( displayed invitations inspired by retro drive-in movie marquees (to download them for free, search “Outdoor Movie Party” at Turn the invites into centerpieces by pairing each with a toy car and placing them in snack bar–inspired plastic food baskets (12 for $20, Amazon) lined with checkered paper liners.

Movie Screen

Set Up the Screen

Whether you hang a white sheet on a clothesline, splurge on a screen (like Camp Chef 92” Lite Outdoor Screen, $105.99, Amazon) or borrow one from a friend, your yard will feel just like a movie theater! You’ll also need a projector with at least 1,500 lumens (like Crosstour HD Portable Projector, $59.97, Amazon), an extension cord, a Bluetooth speaker and an HDMI cable to link a laptop or DVD player to the projector.

Delight Guests with a Pre-Show Activity

While you wait for the sun to set, entertain guests with coloring pages. Schrader was showing Grease, so she googled “Grease Coloring Pages”, printed them out, secured them on clipboards and set them out with jars of colored pencils. 

OPTIONAL: Create coloring stations on wood crates, which double as mini tables for snacks.

This story originally appeared in our print magazine

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