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Have an Outdoor Movie Party in your Backyard


Host an outdoor movie party in your own backyard! This low-stress and easy-to-recreate party idea is perfect for warm summer nights. Invite your friends or family to enjoy a movie under the stars, and relax and unwind in a cool outdoor space. Serve easy and delicious snacks and enjoy an awesome night with a favorite flick.

Kids sitting on the lawn in the backyard waiting for an outdoor movie to start on a sheet on the wall.
Plan an outdoor movie party!

Have you ever had a backyard movie party? They are SO much fun.

From picking a movie that everyone will enjoy to making a cool outdoor space for your guests, a backyard movie night is all about the details. Customize the screen size, seating arrangements and treats to make your party a truly unique experience.

Planning a party can be stressful, but you can keep an outdoor movie party super casual to keep you from feeling overwhelmed. With some creativity and planning, you can create a memorable get-together (as simply or extravagant as you want!).

Related: Outdoor Movie Ideas for Fall

The party we had with the cousins was so much fun! The kids loved that they got to spend time with family, and of course, popcorn. Popcorn makes everyone happy. 

It’s the perfect family activity and doesn’t have to be relegated to summer! Early fall is the perfect time to pick your favorite movie and plan a watching party held right in your own backyard especially if you live in a super warm climate!

How to organize the party

Kids sitting on the lawn in front of a. homemade movie screen.

I love a good themed party, don’t you? Of course, your party details can be based on the movie you’re watching, but I decided to play up the idea of keeping quiet and watching the movie and used a super cute eye illustration as the main graphic for the party.

Check the weather

Before you do anything, go check that weather report! The party won’t be great if your guests get drenched or are freezing. If there is rain or wind in the forecast you may need to movie it indoors or postpone it.

Choose the movie

The movie you choose should be appropriate for your audience. Sometimes it an be fun to show an old-favorite to a younger audience (but you’ll need to watch the language).

Or play a new film that is a tried and true hit with the kids.

Plan the menu

Your menu doesn’t have to be stressful. You can totally keep it easy with store-bought snacks and candy. Think of what you love to eat during a movie and serve that!

Grab juice boxes for the kids or make a batch of lemonade. And for the adults, of course, you can serve a signature cocktail or set up a simple drink bar.

Plan the space

The outdoor space should be comfortable but doesn’t have to be elaborate. If you want to keep it simple like I did, that’s totally fine.

But if you have the energy, go crazy! Grab decorative pillows and rugs, bring out cushions and really make it cozy.


Girl punching a homemade movie ticket for a backyard movie with the family.

I printed out really simple tickets to use for the kids as an invitation to make it feel like a real movie-going experience. You can email it and have them print it out or mail them already cut. Here’s even more invitations for your outdoor movie party.

Kids like to be involved in the parties so I gave one kid the job of punching the tickets as the kids took their seat on the lawn. 

How to Set up the Party

How to set up the seating

Kids sitting on a blanket and eating popcorn for a backyard movie party.

You can easily use household blankets, but, for our outdoor movie party, I picked up an inexpensive drop cloth from the local hardware store.

I like to use drop cloths because some (not all!) have a thin plastic coating on the bottom which helps to keep any moisture from the grass from seeping through. I updated it with a gentle reminder to stay quiet with some stencils and spray paint. Shhhhh! 

Make sure you put out a few extra blankets so the kids don’t get chilly. You can have a movie night well into winter (especially in California!).

I didn’t add any extra cushions or chairs but you totally could. I suggest looking around to see what you already have and not having to buy anything new.

What to use as a screen

Girl drinking from a straw out of a colorful cup.

You do NOT need a large white wall to show the movie on! All you need is a large white sheet or piece of fabric and you’re all set! For this party, we used safety pins to attach a sheet to the vine plant on the back wall.

If you don’t have vines to attach to you can try to tape it to the wall. Or even pick up a simple backdrop holder.

If you want to get really into it, you could buy a reusable inflatable screen.

And if you don’t have your own projector (which I highly encourage you to get!) you can usually rent one from a local audio/visual company. 

What to serve

Boy putting snacks into a tray for an outdoor movie.

Snacks and Popcorn

No party is complete without food, and an outdoor movie party is no exception! You can serve easy appetizers or stick to snacks.

Warm popcorn is one of the best snacks ever! It’s light and fluffy and is perfect anytime! And it’s an essential part of the movie-watching experience.

You can also do chips and dips, veggie trays, and mini pizzas.

Don’t forget a sweet treat. But keep it easy with cookies, brownies or even candied popcorn.

Or you can make movie-themed snacks like I did with my Dirty-Dancing Viewing Party.

For our movie night party, we set out the popcorn and a few other toppers so the kids could create their own snack mix.

We kept the items sweet (like the eye candies, which help us to weave our theme throughout the snacks, and mini chocolate chips) and salty (bacon bits), and let the kids mix them up however they liked. 

Close up of a homemade paper tray with popcorn and other toppings.

I made these cute little paper trays for each kid to make their snack mix in. I fell in love with the eye illustration when I found it on my friend Megan’s website and was so excited when she said I could use it for this party! I think it’s the PERFECT movie-watching symbol. 

What Drinks to Serve

Girl pouring lemonade into a cup.

I try to stay away from sodas, even at my parties, so instead I set up a DIY lemonade bar. This is a great way to give kids a choice and encourage them to try new things.

I used a store-bought lemonade as the base and set out fresh herbs and berries for them to add.

You could also just keep it easy and serve water bottles and juice boxes.

Some easy cocktails or batches of sangria are fun to serve for adults. I like to serve Moscow Mules because you only need a few ingredients and everyone can make their own (just be sure to set out the recipe).

A food tray with snacks on top for an outdoor movie night.

I used a large picture frame, which I filled in with a piece of wrapping paper, as a tray for the kids to set their snacks on so that we wouldn’t have to worry about the spill hazard of placing cups on uneven grass. You could also grab a simple acrylic frame from Michaels which would be harder to break.

It does have a glass face, so I did remind them not to step on it. And more eyes! I just glued on some googley eyes to a glassine bag and made little pouches for fresh veggies. 

Kids eating snacks in the backyard.

It really doesn’t matter what movie you show. An outdoor movie night is exciting and different and the kids will love it!

Of course, all the little details of the party were fun to do but really all you need for a successful movie night is the popcorn.

More easy movie night ideas

  • DIY Popcorn Seasoning
  • The Best Caramel Corn
  • Caramel Corn Popcorn Cupcakes

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