A movie night at home is great family fun, minus the hefty premium... plus the creature comforts of your own furniture, all the snacks you want to serve and the freedom to cuddle up under a quilt.
Here are a few ideas for getting the most out of your family movie night!
Choose a night of the week on which to show a movie, and stick with it. (Kids appreciate the predictability -- and as adults, we tend to remember regular family rituals with fondness.) Turn off the phone, the computer, the iPod and any other distractions.
If they're old enough, have the kids anonymously write the titles they'd like to see on small pieces of paper to be dropped into a fishbowl, hat or other container. The kids can take turns week to week picking a slip of paper to determine the upcoming movie.
If your kids are so inclined (or you'd like to do it for the younger ones), make a movie poster each week and hang in a dedicated spot. Show the movie title, airing time and a sketch, illustration or printout of a major scene.
Make or print out an admission ticket for each child. Then, have one child act as the theater ticket-taker, or take on the job yourself - and ceremoniously collect it as the family assembles for a viewing.
If you're old enough to remember doing the time warp again, you probably watched The Rocky Horror Picture Show in full or partial character costume -- and remember how fun that was. We're definitely not suggesting the flick for your family movie (not by a long shot!). But adopting the garb of a character in your family's movie of the week can be a fun and creative way to get into the spirit. Gearing up for a martial arts flick -- like the original Karate Kid or the 2010 version of the movie (with Jaden Smith & Jackie Chan)? Have your kids suit up in their karate uniforms.
If you want to feel like part of the movie, decorate your TV viewing room appropriately with props and period-appropriate decor. Watching the classic Singin' in the Rain? Hit up the dollar store for some cheap umbrellas. Enjoying A Christmas Story? Throw some ornaments or tinsel on the houseplants. If the film of the week is Toy Story, bring along some of the kids' favorite toys so they can watch, too!
For each weekly movie night, plan a dinner that ties into the theme. For that above-mentioned martial arts film, Chinese take-out is a natural. Lady and the Tramp on the home marquee? Boil up some spaghetti. Planning on Ratatouille? Serve it for dinner, too! Bonus: Your kids might be likely to try new foods if it's this fun.
Move your furniture so it all faces the TV. Pop popcorn and serve it up in cardboard containers. Offer lemonade or sodas to drink (don't forget straws!). Turn off all the lights, close the curtains, and equip wanna-be ushers with inexpensive flashlights. Stop the movie somewhere around midpoint, turn on the lights briefly, and encourage everybody to stretch and use the bathroom.
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