How To Host a Backyard Movie Night On a Budget


In our family, we love movies! We try to stay on top of the latest kid flicks and get out to the cinema as often as our budget allows.  But over the years, we’ve seen movie ticket prices spike and for a family of 5, it just gets too pricey sometimes.  Our solution to this?  

Hosting movie nights right in our own backyard, under the stars.

Sure, we may not get to see the latest Spiderman flick right now, but we can see the Spiderman movie from a few years ago with Toby Maguire in it! They’re all the same Marvel movie anyway.  (Just kidding, my kids would totally debate me on this in a heartbeat.)

Last summer we took advantage of an online deal and bought an outdoor movie screen. A year later, we’ve had countless backyard movie nights and have enjoyed making memories for our family while saving ourselves a good chunk of change and stress!

We didn’t have to worry about fidgety kids in long movie wait lines and then scrambling to look for a row that had 5 seats together to fit my family.

Don’t get me wrong, we still go to our local theater to catch a movie, but it’s not near as often as we use to.  All in all, the only real expenses you’d dish out for a backyard movie night would be at a low minimum. What you determine your initial investment and budget will look like will depend on how often you want to host your own backyard movie nights.

Since backyard movie nights are a thing at my house, I have a few tips that will get you started with pulling off your own backyard movie night on a budget for your family!   


Be sure to set up your space near outlets. You can’t have an outdoor movie night without power!  Use extension cords if you have to!

The set up.

You’ll need a projector, a movie streaming account like Netflix, a laptop, a set of speakers and a screen. Put the word out among friends and family that you need to borrow a projector. Someone within your circle will have one! If you plan to host outdoor movie nights more often, then you can buy one for less than $100.  (This is a great investment by the way.)  You’ll need a laptop to connect the projector and speakers. Can’t afford an outdoor movie screen or don’t have the space for it exactly?  No worries, there are plenty of DIY ideas on Pinterest to help you out. My friend Brittany got creative with her outdoor space! She used a simple white sheet and attached it to an outer brick wall on one side of her home. I absolutely love the space she created!  The idea here is to find your backyard space and make it simple but yet inviting for those backyard movie nights!


You don’t need to go out and buy anything!  You can get as creative as you want! This summer we experimented with our seating by having a kids inflatable pool outlined with blankets and pillows. My kids loved this idea.  My preferred seating are lawn chairs but you can also set up a blanket on the lawn and enjoy your movie that way too. You just have so many different options to make your viewing experience as comfy as you want!

Movie selection.

I typically start polling the kids on what movies we want to see a few days before, just to avoid scrolling forever through all the titles to find a movie that we all agree on. We use Netflix and occasionally, we’ll hook up the Roku box.  From there, we get more movie options with our subscriptions from Hulu, Sling and Vudu. 


My kids would say this is the best part of our backyard outdoor movie night. I keep our mini concession stand simple and low key.  You can add classic movie theater candy and popcorn or create your own snacks.  I like chex mix with M&Ms and mini marshmallows personally! It’s easy to put together and scoop into a cupcake holder to enjoy! Occasionally, we’ll grill out before dawn and enjoy dinner on the patio.  You can also host a potluck with friends for your movie night!

Theme nights. 

Last fall we hosted a pumpkin carving event with family. We carved our pumpkins while we watched a Halloween kids flick!  Other ideas for outdoor movie nights include premiere nights of our favorite shows. This fall we’re hosting a Stranger Things Season 2 Premiere movie night with friends and family. 

However you choose to incorporate your backyard movie nights, remember to keep it simple, under budget and stress free!  You’re making memories that are priceless!


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