Throwing a movie night outside is a fun, inexpensive, and memorable way to make a summer evening special.
Enlisting your friends’ and/or neighbors’ help is the key to getting this done without it turning into a huge chore for you. If you are a control freak, this is a good opportunity to practice delegating work to others. But with two weeks of planning, you can get what you need and have an enjoyable night too.
Two weeks ahead:
First, make a list of all the things you’ll need, which include: A large enough, level backyard space; a sheet to hang or a wall to project onto; a projector or large-screen TV; speakers (wireless are ideal); blankets to sit on (figure 2-3 people/blanket); lawn chairs for those who don’t want to lie on the lawn; snacks and drinks appropriate for the number of people you’ve invited (don’t forget ice, napkins, and reusable or biodegradable cups—and towels for spills); extra TP and hand soap for the nearest accessible bathroom.
Send out an online invite (like Facebook Events or Evite). This way you can keep track of who is coming, make lists of who is bringing what, and people have a place they can refer back to for event details. Include the list of the things you don’t have/you need others to bring on your invitation, and ask people to name what they are able to contribute on the invite page. Friends will probably surprise you with fun additions you might not think of.
Name the film or films you’ll be presenting so everyone is clear on the type of movie that will be shown. Or, you could choose two classic movies and let attendees vote the night-of.
A week before:
Confirm with people on your invitation list about who is bringing what, and write up a shopping list for yourself if there are extra items you’ll need to purchase a day or two before.
Follow up with the “maybes” from the invitation and ask them to make a decision.
Make sure you have a reliable power source for the movie player, and ensure your lawn is set for lots of people to enjoy it (ie: remove obstacles, mow it if necessary).
The day before:
Check your headcount and make sure all supplies are set.
Make a pile of blankets and chairs near your back door so they are ready to go night-of.
Ensure you have finalized where the visual display will go and where people will sit, where food and drinks will be (the “rear” of the area is best), and how people will know where the bathroom is.
Make sure any electrical cords you need will reach where you need them to, and if you will need a table to elevate a projector, or speakers.
The day of:
Give yourself at least 2 hours to prepare and set up before people arrive. First, organize your screen and/or projector and laptop, laying all cords, connections and electricity. Test it out to make sure it works.
Next, set up a blankets area in the front and a seating area in the back (so taller people in chairs won’t block others’ view).
Put together your food and beverage station. Be sure to have a sign or plan an announcement to direct people to the bathroom.
Pour yourself a drink and wait for your guests to arrive.