Summertime is the perfect time to spend evenings in your backyard with friends and family. One of the most popular activities for kids and adults alike is having a backyard movie night on a warm, summer evening.
There are many ways you can do this- some involving professional equipment (like an inflatable movie screen) while others use items that you likely have lying around your house.
In this blog post I’ll cover all of these options, as well as a few movie night ideas that will make your backyard cinema unique.
How Do You Do A Movie Night In Your Backyard?
Backyard movie nights will require a bit of imagination and planning. While there are many pre-made solutions available for purchase, you can also set up a movie night using your own creative DIY skills.
Whether you choose to purchase all of your movie night essentials or create them yourself, there are a few things you’ll want to consider before you get started.
✔ Pick A Theme For Your Movie Night
Okay, okay, picking a theme for your movie night isn’t 100% necessary, but we find it really helpful.
To pick a theme, we suggest you start by choosing a movie. This will help you narrow down your movie night decor and serve as the basis for any additional props or activities you incorporate into your backyard cinema.
For example, if you choose to air Finding Nemo, you may want to have fun underwater decorations and “sea food” treats.
Note: You don’t HAVE to spend a bunch of time decorating your backyard. Backyard movie nights are fun regardless of how much time and effort you put into setting it up. This is just a suggestion for those who want to do something extra special.
✔ Dedicate A Space In Your Backyard
Next, you’ll want to find an area in your yard that is perfect for watching movies. In particular, an open area with flat ground is best. Ideally with no trees or flowers.
If this is impossible in your yard, you can still make it work. In fact, a small hill could work well for stadium-like seating.
✔ Gather All The Necessary Equipment
The final thing you need to do in order to have a successful backyard movie night is gather all of the necessary equipment.
Keep in mind, a lot of this equipment may need to be ordered online if you don’t have these things already.
If that’s the case, order these items well before scheduling your backyard movie night. It would be a shame to get the kids excited only to be missing a lot of the items you need to make it work.
Below, we detail all of the things you’ll need to have for a backyard movie night for your kids.
What You’ll Need For A Movie Night In Your Backyard
As mentioned above, in order to set up a movie night in your backyard, you’re going to need a few things. We’ve thought of all of the items you’ll want to have (and some possible extras) to make the night special.
1. Backyard Movie Projector
The best part about movie projectors is that there are options for all budget types. Below, we’ve detailed two of the best outdoor movie projectors: the best of the best and the best budget-friendly option.
The Best Outdoor Movie Projector
Overall, you can’t go wrong with the DBPOWER Native 1080P WiFi Projector. Although you’ll be paying a bit more for this model, it features everything you could possibly need in a projector.
The DBPOWER Native 1080P WiFi Projector connects to your smartphone or other device through WiFi so that you can easily set up a movie without the added hassle of cords.
The picture that it creates is high resolution and it even has decent audio if you don’t want the added cost of speakers (although we still recommend speakers).
If you aren’t satisfied with this projector, you don’t have to worry because they include a 3-year warranty on every purchase.
Check prices on Amazon here: DBPOWER Native 1080P WiFi Projector
Budget-Friendly Outdoor Movie Projector
Now, I get it.. Spending money isn’t always the most ideal for some of us.
If that’s the case and you still want to have an unforgettable backyard movie night, then there are definitely ways to stay on a budget.
Instead of going all out with the projector mentioned above, we recommend the MVV Mini Projector.
Sure, it’s a small version of the projector above, but it still gets the job done and at a good price. You’ll connect to this projector with a cord and from there, you’ll be able to play movies from your phone or other devices.
And again, if the projector doesn’t live up to your standards (although we think it will), you can always reach out to the company because they provide a 3-year warranty.
Check prices on Amazon here: MVV Mini Projector
2. A Movie Screen
Next, you’re going to need a movie screen so that the kids will be able to see the projection in the dark.
Typically, there are two common movie screens that are used for backyard movie nights. Here’s what you need to know:
Screen With Stand
Most people decide to purchase a movie screen with a solid frame. If you think this will work for your backyard, we recommend checking out this highly-rated Projector Screen With Stand.
There are several different sizes you can choose from, so be sure to measure your backyard and choose the option that will fit the best in your space.
Check prices on Amazon here: Projector Screen With Stand
Screen With Inflatable Stand
On the other hand, you might want to go with a movie screen with an inflatable stand for your backyard. If that’s what you would prefer, we recommend the Nurxiovo Inflatable Movie Projector Screen.
This model has three different sizes from 15 feet to 20 feet depending on your preference.
You may be worried about setup for this particular movie screen, but rest-assured that this is easy to set up and it comes with it’s own air blower for quick installation.
Check prices on Amazon here: Nurxiovo Inflatable Movie Projector Screen
Now, if you’re sticking to a budget, we’ve got a solution for you, too.
Who needs a fancy movie screen when a white bedsheet will work perfectly? If you already have one in your home, I suggest using that. But if you don’t have a spare sheet, head to your local store and grab the cheapest bedsheets available (full size bedsheets work the best).
I suggest hanging your bedsheet up against a wall or fence. This will work the best so that the wind doesn’t blow the sheet around during the movie.
It’s also the easiest for installation. To hang your sheet on an outdoor wall (garage, side of the house, shed, etc) or fence, Gorilla Mounting Tape is a quick, easy, and sturdy solution. It will keep your bedsheet in place for long periods of time.
One of the most important parts of any movie is the dialogue, right (unless you’re watching Castaway with very little dialogue)?
Obviously sound quality is important and it can make or break your backyard movie night. Here are the speaker systems that we recommend for your setup:
Loud Waterproof Speakers
Let’s start with the best speaker system for your movie night: JBL FLIP 5, Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker.
Although this speaker system is a bit pricier than other options, it will definitely produce the best sound.
You’ll also love that it’s completely waterproof. This will come in handy when cleaning up your backyard after a successful movie night. It’s easy to forget equipment outside, but you don’t have to worry with this speaker.
Check prices on Amazon here: JBL FLIP 5, Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker
Budget-Friendly Outdoor Speakers
And if $100+ isn’t in your budget for a speaker system, we’ve got you covered. Check out the COMISO Waterproof Bluetooth Speakers.
This highly-rated speaker produces excellent sound quality and you’ll love that it’s waterproof as well. It radiates sound in every direction, which is necessary for a successful movie night with your kids.
Check prices on Amazon here: COMISO Waterproof Bluetooth Speakers
4. Backyard Seating
Setting up seating for your backyard movie night is the next step.
You will want to make sure that you have seats for everyone and that there is plenty of room for people to move around so they can get up and grab a snack or go to the bathroom before it’s too late.
Here are a few different options to consider for seating:
Blankets are by far the easiest and most budget-friendly option for backyard seating.
Sure, it might not be the most comfortable, but there are plenty of benefits to using blankets for seating. Not only do you likely have extra blankets laying around your house, but by using these, the kids will be able to stretch out and lay down if they’d like.
For a more durable option, we recommend this Lawn Blanket by Mambe Store. We use one of these blankets for many outdoor activities, so it will come in handy often.
But, if the Mambe Store Lawn Blanket isn’t in your price range, consider one of these cozy Mexican Blankets, which are perfect for outdoor use.
If you want to get the kids off the ground and provide additional comfort during your backyard movie night, we suggest investing in a few lawn chairs.
Personally, I enjoy the camping chairs that are low to the ground like these KingCamp Low Sling Chairs. They are incredible for relaxation and I know the kids will agree.
And if you want to go all out with your backyard movie night, we’ve got some options for you. Outdoor loungers will work just like couches and the cool part? They are made to withstand the effects of nature.
With that said, it can sometimes be difficult to find an outdoor lounger that is worth the price.
Now, in addition to the important equipment and gear we mentioned above, there are a few more things that will make your backyard movie night even more special.
If you want to make the most of your time outdoors, consider livening up the party with these:
✅ Popcorn boxes – turn your backyard into a real movie theater with these fun reusable popcorn boxes.
✅ Lights – personally, I feel like the ambiance that these lights give off is amazing. Set the scene and get everyone feeling nice and cozy for an exciting movie.
✅ A Cooler – keep your sodas, juices, and other treats cool with this easy cooler. That way mom and dad don’t have to keep running into the house for more refreshments.
✅ Dinnerware – I’m sure you have plenty of bowls and plates in your house, but they are likely breakable. When brought outside the chance of them breaking increases quickly. These plates, bowls, and silverware are unbreakable and they are eco-friendly!
✅ Bug Lanterns – we are from Minnesota, so we know what it’s like to fight off those pesky mosquitos all night. Invest in a bug lantern so that the kids won’t get bit by the bugs. It’s a great alternative to sticky and smelly bug spray.
How To Set Up Your Backyard Movie Night Equipment
Now that we’ve covered all of the things that you’ll need (and some extras) for your backyard movie night, let’s dive into setup.
Setting up your backyard for this kind of event can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.
Choose An Area
First, I recommend plotting out an area in your backyard that is big enough for a movie screen and can accommodate many children (or adults).
Set Up Your Movie Screen
Once you’ve decided on the area you’ll use, it’s time to put up your movie screen. If you’re using a movie screen that you bought online, it will likely come with a stand, making setup a lot easier.
If you are going with our budget-friendly recommendation of using a bedsheet, use Gorilla Mounting Tape to hang the sheet from your garage, the side of your house, your shed, or a fence.
Not an option?
If you don’t have a place to hang the bedsheet, you can also secure it to two poles or trees using a rope. Clothes pins work perfectly for securing the bedsheet to the rope.
Set Up Your Projector
Most projectors will require some type of table or surface as a stand so that it is higher than the ground. This will allow you to aim the projector at the screen with ease.
Get creative with where you place your projector. You might consider putting it on the same table that holds the snacks or you can simply place it on a short stepping stool.
Connect Your Speakers
From there, you’ll want to make sure to connect your speaker to your projector so that the sound reaches everyone in the audience.
Most speakers work through Bluetooth, but the problem is that many projectors don’t have a Bluetooth option. Keep this in mind and be prepared with a cord that will connect your speaker to your projector.
Set Up The Seating
This is the easy part. Lay out the blankets in front of the screen far enough away so that everyone can see. Or, for more fun, let the kids set up the seating.
It’s always nice to have everyone close together because that’s what backyard movie nights are all about: being together as a family or as a group of friends.
How Do I Play A Movie Outside With A Projector?
And now the question that comes up the most: how do I play a movie outside with a projector?
Well, you’ll need an extension cord so that you can plug the projector into an outlet.
Next, you’ll turn on the projector and connect your laptop or other device (tablet or smartphone) to the projector. The first projector we mentioned can be connected via WiFi, but our budget option will require an HDMI cable.
Then, you’ll pull up the movie of your choice on your device. Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and Amazon Prime are all great resources that have hoards of fun movies for kids.
Backyard Movie Night Ideas
To create the best backyard movie night for your kids, it’s probably a good idea to consider choosing a theme. There are so many possibilities and we wanted to make the decision as easy as possible for you.
Here are a few of the best backyard movie night ideas for your special event:
Turn your backyard movie night into a backyard camping night! Your kids will go wild over the idea of pitching a few tents, watching a movie, and sleeping outside with their friends.
Fun Things To Incorporate: s’mores, a campfire, campfire stories, roasting hot dogs and brats.
👉 Mexican Movie Night
This is one of my favorite backyard movie night themes because the ideas are endless! Consider watching a movie centered on Mexican culture like the Disney movie Coco.
Fun Things To Incorporate: piñatas, Mexican food, Mexican decorations, sombreros.
👉 Movie Night Under The Stars
Our final backyard movie night theme idea is ‘movie night under the stars’. We’re picturing a well-lit backyard with plenty of fun outer space-related snacks (see ideas below) while airing E.T. or October Sky.
Fun Things To Incorporate: telescopes, mooncakes and star crunch snacks, constellation crafts.
Backyard Movie Night Party
Not only are backyard movie nights a great idea for your family, but they are the perfect solution for a child’s birthday party.
Whether you make this a slumber party or a night-time party, your kids will be so excited about having their friends over for a movie and snacks.
To make things easier, order a pizza to save you time and energy. Add in a cake and you’ve got yourself a fun and unique backyard birthday part.
Backyard Movie Night Rentals
Looking to rent equipment rather than purchase everything you need? There’s an awesome company that has locations throughout the United States that rents out backyard movie night equipment.
You can enquire about renting your movie night equipment by going to their website and clicking on “Locations”. Here, you’ll select your state and fill out a form for a quote.
If this option intrigues you, be sure to compare pricing to make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck.
For more fun backyard ideas for kids, check out our post: 35 Exciting Backyard Ideas For Kids.
A Final Note: Backyard Movie Night For Kids
Backyard movie nights are an excellent way to get the family together and keep your kids happy. Spend some time going through our guide so that you’re prepared for setting up your movie night and making it as memorable as possible.