How to Turn Your Backyard Into an Open-Air Movie Theater
All you need is a king-size sheet and some kid-friendly snacks.
Published Sep 27, 2022 9:00 AM
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Nothing channels summer quite like an outdoor movie. Gathering family and close friends on a blanket with homemade popcorn (and a bottle of wine) is the ideal way to celebrate the longest, balmiest nights of the year, especially with little ones in the mix. And re-creating that experience in your own backyard is easier than you might think.
Los Angeles–based event stylist, industrious DIYer, and mom Amy Blessing showed us how she created the perfect silver screen setup for her kids to enjoy right at home. Here are her DIY steps and the essentials you’ll need to have your own open-air cinema.
DIY Movie Screen
- Get a king-size white sheet with a deep hem. Buy a long climbing cord (length should be the width of your sheet, plus a few extra feet on both ends), and three 36-inch-long wood dowels from a hardware store.
- Using a seam ripper or small scissors, snip open the seam on either side of the hem (leaving the length of the hem intact), so you have an opening through which to thread the cord. Think of it like a curtain rod—with the cord being the rod and the sheet being the curtain.
- Attach an open safety pin to one end of the climbing cord and pull it through the top of the sheet until the cord is taut, with a couple extra feet outside the sheet on each end. Remove the safety pin.
- Push the three dowels through the bottom seam until evenly spaced to weigh down the sheet at the bottom.
- To hang the sheet, tie each end of the cord onto a tree branch (or anything else in your backyard!).
For the best viewing experience possible, go with a projector that’s both super-portable and offers razor-sharp picture quality (like the Nebula, which you can plug into your laptop and hit play). If you want a sound boost, JBL’s wireless speaker offers Bluetooth connectivity, a waterproof design, and 15 hours of battery life. Movie marathon, anybody?
The Main Event
Once you create your screen, it’s time to pick your flick. We’re loving Criterion, the company dedicated to publishing classic films in updated, high-quality editions.
To get a real movie theater look, comfy chairs are key—and a classic lawn chair design in green and white will last many a season (fold and store when not in use). Lay down a vibrant outdoor rug to stretch out on.
The Soft Touches
Layer in some plush pieces, such as Serena & Lily’s Montecito floor pillow, to get cozy. Once your lounge area is propped out and the sun goes down, unroll Pendleton’s tartan blanket (carrying handles make it easy to transport and roll up after use).
Whether your go-to is buttered, salted, or mixed with M&M’s, popcorn is a must for any at-home screening. (Trendy vegan brand Bjorn Qorn sells healthy options that use nutritional yeast rather than butter or cheese.) Pair your snack with old-timey striped boxes to mix and match flavors in style.
The Grown-Up Perks
Parents, we have you covered. While your little ones are grazing on age-appropriate bites and drinks, enjoy what every good movie needs: canned wine. Una Lou’s rosé has notes of jasmine, strawberry, and white peach, making it the perfectly refreshing summer sip. Serve your guests on a bubblegum pink tray for easy entertaining.
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This story was originally published in July 2020. It has since been updated.