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Apr 27, 2017

How to host a backyard movie night

Get your friends and family together to watch your favourite film under the stars


As the weather gets warmer and snow gives way to sunshine, Canadian backyards once again come to life with pool parties, barbecues and, best of all, the chance to host an outdoor movie night. But how do you do it and what do you need? We’ve got you’ve covered.

1. Get a projector and screen

First things first: you need a way to watch the movie, and that means getting a projector. There are plenty of great options available (check out this comprehensive list from, and you can easily find rental companies that provide projectors and screens simply by Googling “projector rental” and the name of your city.

Tip: You can always make your own screen. A white sheet tied tautly or a white wall work great. There are also all kinds of DIY instructions online, including one for this super-affordable portable screen.

2. Prep your snacks

Even though you’re hosting a screening at home, model your snacks after those you’d get in a theatre. Namely, make them fun, portable and easy to eat in the dark. Think: popcorn, chips or pretzels served in individual paper bags; snack-size candy bars; or veggie sticks in individual cups. Be sure to have recycling bins and garbage bins on hand for easy cleanup, and consider reusable plates, cups and cutlery for an even greener approach.

Recipes to try: Ketchup popcorn, sweet and smoky kettle corn, crispy madras chickpeas, and homemade chocolate-pretzel granola bars

Tip: Worried about mosquitoes feeding on your guests? Light some citronella candles, torches or coils and place them throughout your outdoor “theatre” – citronella is a natural repellant that keeps the bloodthirsty pests at bay.

© Kalugin

3. Plan your seating

You want to make sure everyone can see the screen well. If your yard is flat, try having blankets and mats down for guests who prefer to be up front and chairs for those in the back. If you have a deck facing the screen, you can arrange two tiers of seats: one section on the lawn, the other on the deck. Make sure your seating is comfy enough to keep guests happy through a two-hour movie, and have extra cushions on hand just in case.

Tip: Use empty milk crates as “tables” so guests can keep their snacks and drinks off the ground.

4. Be a good neighbour

Always advise all your surrounding neighbours of your movie night in advance, and be very mindful of noise – both the volume of your movie and your guests. Try to wrap up outside by 11 p.m., which is the standard noise-bylaw cutoff. Better yet, why not help foster a sense of community and invite your neighbours over to join you?

Tip: Before your event, be sure to check your city’s municipal code to make sure you’re in compliance with all applicable bylaws.