10 Fun Ideas for an Outdoor Movie Night

Make your outdoor movie night a party to remember with these tips covering food, drinks, decorations and more!

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Summer cinema with retro projector in the garden
Shutterstock / Shaiith

I love to re-watch Ratatouille and other food-inspired movies at home. But they’re even more fun to watch under the starry sky with friends. Here’s how to plan an outdoor movie night that can happen right in your backyard—I found everything you need for the perfect party, including Remy’s ratatouille recipe!

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Movie tickets in a pool of freshly popped popcorn
Shutterstock / Joe Belanger

Send out tickets

“Admit One” by mailing out real invitations that look exactly like tickets or including tickets in the envelope! You can ask your friends to bring the tickets to your party, and it’s a fun way to make it feel like a real theater. (Of course, you’ll let it slide when one or two people forget their “ticket.”)

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Hollywood Red Aisle & Event Runner
GossamerPath via Etsy

Set up a red carpet

Use a red carpet to make your party feel like a glamorous film premiere, a celebrity event or the Academy Awards. You might need to have a friend taking photos, too! It’s easier than you’d think to do—you can order red carpets from places like Etsy.

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Netflix app on Laptop screen
Shutterstock / sitthiphong

Pick the right flick

Figure out what you’re going to watch before the party starts! Try to pick a movie that everyone will enjoy. Personally, we’re big fans of Star Wars (because of this Star Wars food) and Harry Potter (hello, magical recipes!), which could even be the theme for your backyard get-together.

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Safari Animal Cookies
BaketiniBakeShop via Etsy

Bring the wild things

If you show a film that has animals as the main characters like Zootopia, Dr. Doolittle, Lion King or Stuart Little, bring a few pets to the party! It doesn’t have to be a real-life animal—try cut-out cookies in the shape of the characters for a wild touch. We have an easy recipe for sugar cookies that’s perfect for cute animal shapes.

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Magic wands
MPHandcraftedToys via Etsy

Cast a magic spell

There are so many fun wizard movies, from Harry Potter to the Wizard of Oz, or even the Chronicles of Narnia. If you show a movie with a spellbinding element, enchant the party by giving each guest a magic wand! There are hundreds for less than $5 on Etsy, like these colorful wands perfect for spells and perfect photos.

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Details of a tasty candy bar with buckets of popcorn and pasteboard pink and yellow glasses
Shutterstock / Nastya Dubrovina

Pop some popcorn

Popcorn is a movie-watching essential. Instead of providing plain old popcorn at your party, make a popcorn bar. Make a large amount of popcorn (we found the best brands for you) and provide mix-ins for guests to add. Try ranch seasoning, flavored salt, Milk Duds, even sprinkles, and of course you can’t forget melted butter!

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Strawberry watermelon slush
Taste of Home

Provide a signature drink

Skip the soda you’d get at the regular movie theater. This get-together calls for a splendid signature drink! Take a look at our favorite mocktails—they’re all fresh, fizzy and colorful. You’ll easily be able to find one that your friends will love.

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Two children lying on blanket
Shutterstock / Switlana Symonenko

Get comfy on the ground

Provide lots of blankets and pillows so your friends can get comfortable. Make sure you use washable pillowcases and blankets that are okay to bring outside. If you have beach or deck chairs, adding a pillow instantly turns them into movie watching chairs!

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Mixed chocolate and caramel dipped apples rounds
Shutterstock / JeniFoto

Serve up a sweet midnight snack

The night should end on a sweet note. Instead of a heavy dessert like cookies or cake, try chocolate-covered fruit to end the night. We have ten easy-to-make ideas for fruit dipped in chocolate right here.

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Colorful fluorescent light neon on black background
Shutterstock / MG-PicturesProd

Glow in the dark

It’s always dark when you’re watching a movie, which makes it a perfect time to wear something that glows. From glow sticks, to glow necklaces there are some fun options to brighten up the night. We love these glow-in-the-dark cups because your guests will always be able to spot their drink in the dark theater—I mean, yard!

Mandy Naglich
Mandy is an advanced cicerone, National Homebrew Competition gold medalist, drinks educator and writer. She’s shared her food and beverage expertise at Taste of Home for more than five years, writing about nonalcoholic beer brands, how to make the best Moscow mule and more. Her popular blind tasting classes in New York consistently sell out to groups that want to learn from a certified taster and professional recipe developer. Mandy is also the author of “How to Taste: A Guide to Discovering Flavor and Savoring Life.” When she’s not busy promoting her book, she’s creating content for her social platforms where she shares fun tidbits like the history of beer and other tipples as well as what to eat and drink at must-try restaurants. She currently lives, writes and brews in New York but documents her drink adventures on Instagram at @drinkswithmandy.