Lights, Camera, Outdoor Movie Night

Long Island’s summer nights are cool and breezy—it’s almost sinful to waste them in an air-conditioned movie theater. Spend the evening sprawled across a grassy lawn, snacks in hand, enjoying a blockbuster with your closest friends and family. I spoke with Hillary Needle, president of Hillary Needle Events Inc., who shared her expertise with Pulse on how to throw the ultimate outdoor movie night.

The Big Screen

The most necessary part of an outdoor movie night is a big screen. Needle suggests renting an inflatable screen that’s made for the outdoors, and explained there are plenty of companies that will advise hosts where and how to set it up. If you have a projector and screen with a stand, it can also be a good way to get the movie theater vibe in your backyard.

Interactive Invitations

“If you’re not doing an e-vite, send your invitation attached to a bag of microwave popcorn.” Give guests three or four movie options, and have them cast their vote with their RSVP. Also, be sure to include a prompt arrival time 45 minutes prior to sundown–you’ll want to make sure everyone’s settled before the natural light fades and the movie starts.

The Viewing

Ask guests to BYOC (Bring Your Own Chair) or set up blankets and throw pillows on the lawn. This allows viewers to lounge, relax and feel comfortable while watching the flick, and leaves you with one less thing to worry about.

The Set-up 

Besides seating, “you will need some torches and some lanterns on the lawn.” A source of dim light sets the tone for an authentic outdoor movie experience, similar to the small lights that typically line a theater.

To add to the comfort, Needle likes, “to set up colorful sand buckets on the ground for holding beverages and collecting trash, so at the end of the night your yard isn’t a litter box.”

Food, Snacks and Drinks

A movie night, whether indoor or outdoor, is incomplete without popcorn. “If you just want to keep it classic, rent a popcorn machine and have some shareable toppings like cheddar, parmesan and truffle salt.” Since it’s after hours, heavier foods aren’t necessary, but if you’d like to offer guests nibbles, pre-make mini skewers and salad cups.

“You can also make mini bento boxes for the guests, I call it lap food, with junior mints and M&Ms and trail mix.” Put all the goodies/candies in separate bowls on a picnic table or a table outside with spoons, and let people personalize their box.

Coolers are great for not only storing beer, wine and water, but Milky Ways and Snickers.

Tell us: what movie would you want to watch at an outdoor movie night?