Both my daughters recently had birthdays and with COVID and social distancing, we decided to host a backyard movie night for each of them (separate parties).
Having a party outside gave the kids plenty of space to run around, be kids, and bonus, your house stays clean. It’s also budget-friendly, and everyone feels a lot more comfortable about their kids attending a party. We kept it intentionally smaller, and and the kids had a great time.
You can easily tweak this for adults, and this can work in spring, summer, or fall with a few changes. For your girlfriends—just add cocktails and candles.
Make it Magical
I took a page from a brand I love, Spell. They hosted a cool backyard movie night that was boho and girly. I thought it would be cute and fun to recreate this for girls complete with dinner and a movie night under the stars. I wanted the girls to feel special, and feel like they were at their own private dinner party.
Flower Crowns, Twinkle Lights, and Cozy Seating
To give the party a fun ambience, we strung lights from the trees above the movie and dining area. The girls made their own flower crowns to wear and take home as their gift. We also created a little photo area with a selfie-frame that was decorated with flowers.
The girls sat on oversized pillows at low-profile tables we built. The tables were covered with fabric the girls chose from a fabric store—this was in lieu of table cloths and there was no sewing involved. Having low-profiles tables and oversized pillows for seating made it comfortable, and the girls were spaced out enough that social distance was less of an issue.
With a few supplies from the Home Depot, white Christmas lights, fabric from a local fabric store, and a borrowed projector from friends, we created the perfect budget-friendly outdoor movie night set up. The girls had a blast. Here’s how to create your own socially distanced backyard movie night.
What You Need for a Backyard Movie Night and Dinner
I did a lot of searching through Pinterest and found a ton of ideas from weddings where they had a Moroccan/boho theme with lower-profile tables, oversized pillows, and a cozy atmosphere. I knew I wanted it to be girly and casual like the Spell party, and not overdone since it’s not a wedding, and I wanted to keep costs down since kids’ parties costs add up quickly.
I went to Home Depot and showed them a few photos of what I was trying to create. I ended up getting materials to build three low-profile tables made out of plywood sheets and 2″x 6″ boards. The goal was 3 people per side and two on the ends.
If you can find milk crates to stack, or pallets that would also work well, but those can end up costing quite a bit more. If you make your own tables, all it requires is a hammer, nails, plywood sheets, and boards.
For the seating at the table, I used Euro pillows and shams, and whatever blankets I had available. Since this was a kids’ party I grabbed whatever we had on hand.
I pulled things I already had minus one additional large blanket, linked below.
For movie seating, I used duvet inserts and a featherbed covered with oversized blankets so there was plenty of room and it would feel like they were on a comfy bed
If you are doing this for adults, clearly flower crowns are not a necessity, but it is a super cute way to give the girls something to do, get creative and it’s a fun parting gift. For the flower crowns, you need fresh flowers or fake flowers, floral tape, floral wire, floral scissors, and grosgrain ribbon.
I am going to leave the tutorial to the experts. I watched this video twice, did a tester crown before the kids got to the party, and then walked the kids through the steps. These ladies know what they are doing so click here for the video.
Selfie-Photo and Flower Frame
I created a very simple large frame that was lightweight that the kids could hold to use for selfies. You can do this with four 2′ x 2″ lightweight pieces of wood that you nail together or purchase a frame. I would suggest purchasing one.
Using a hot glue gun, I glued clusters of flowers to the frame. I used fresh flowers, but in retrospect, would have used fake ones, same with the crowns, if you want them to last.
Movie Screen, Projector and Speaker
To make this a success, you are going to need a projector, an outdoor screen, a portable speaker, and extension cords. You need to make sure everything is blue tooth and wifi compatible. Make sure you test everything before the party to make sure you can download a movie, connect it through your phone or an iPad, and make sure the volume is loud enough that everyone can hear it.
You will likely want to give the screen extra support so it does not topple over during the film and make sure it is not in direct sunlight if you plan on starting the movie earlier.
Don’t forget Drinks, Labels and Sharpies
If you are hosting this for kids, I would suggest getting cute reusable milk bottles with tops and straws, and labeling each with the child’s name. No confusion, no spills and it keeps germs to a minimum.
Here are a few that work, and for adults, the mason jars would be perfect, too.
We used basic white Christmas lights and strung multiple strands together, but here are a few options if you want to keep these up longer, for general ambiance.
Have fun and good luck. I hope your party is huge success!