Contrary to popular belief, throwing a successful family movie night isn’t just about microwaving a bag of popcorn and turning on a random flick. If you want to achieve that perfect balance of relaxation, entertainment and family bonding you so desperately need after a busy week, it’s time to think outside the set-top box and get creative.
But don’t stress — there’s a simple formula for pulling this off that involves a crowd-pleasing movie (with a good mix of humor and heartwarming storytelling — like Ralph Breaks the Internet, now on Digital, Movies Anywhere and Blu-ray), comfortable surroundings and snacks that make you feel like you’re treating yourself to something special. After that, it’s up to you and your family to decide what makes your family movie night unique. Need some help getting started? Here are nine real mom-approved tips for hosting a movie night that the entire family will look forward to all week.
Think beyond the furniture
There’s nothing wrong with everyone piling onto the sofa for your family film screening, but adding other options is one way to make the night feel like more of a special event. Maria C. of Bedford, New York cozies up the living room with sleeping bags and comforters all over the floor. “Sometimes, we get a tent out and some of the kids sit in it for the movie,” she adds.
Find the right flick
Sometimes, the toughest part of family movie night is choosing a movie everyone will love. Every family is different, but it’s hard to go wrong with kids movies that were also made with adults in mind. Disney movies like Ralph Breaks the Internet (now on Digital, Movies Anywhere and Blu-ray) manage to be enjoyable and appropriate for little ones while still keeping the grown-ups engaged and entertained. Adrienne C. of Staunton, Virginia, says, “The crowd-pleasing humor, beautiful visuals and catchy songs make Disney movies particular favorites for our entire family.”
Create a special movie night menu
From homemade pizza to jazzed-up popcorn, most of the moms we interviewed mentioned special foods as a key part of their family movie nights. Liz R. of Albany, Indiana, says, “We put a kids table in the living room and we pretend we’re waiters at a restaurant. Complete with menus and silly food options and charging them play money.”
And Karin K. of Laguna Beach, California recommends taking the time to DIY creative popcorn flavors. “Make the best popcorn — with a real popcorn maker or a pot instead of microwave,” she says, “and buy all kinds of cool stuff that people can put on it so there are gourmet popcorn tastings.”
Go big or go home
Is your television too small for a proper screening? Melissa M. of Portland, Oregon, takes her family movie nights to the next level. “We hung a sheet on the side of the house and used a projector to screen a movie huge for summer solstice last year,” she says, noting that it can work inside too. “When I was a teacher, I brought home a projector all the time to make [movies and television shows] ginormous for my first kid.”
Dress the part
This isn’t the time or place for uncomfortable clothes. “Movie night includes wearing pj’s!” says Northern Virginia mom Amina S. You can also go with leggings or blankets with sleeves or anything else that makes you feel like you’re wrapped in a cozy cocoon.
Use movie night as a reward
When everyone in the family wants to have a movie night, they should be willing to work for it — at least a little bit. Dina W. of Richmond, Virginia, says, “Make everyone clean the house before so everyone sees it like a reward.” Win-win.
Respect the tradition
When life gets busy, it can be tough to take the time to sit down and relax for a few hours, but it’s worth it to make the effort. “We’ve had family movie nights on Fridays for a long time,” says Berkeley, California-based mom Alexandra B. “My husband and I try to avoid making plans on Fridays, and our kids (10 and 12) don’t like to have plans on Friday nights either.”
Change up your venue
Watching from different spots can keep the tradition feeling fresh. Carol H. of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, says, “During warmer months, we watch movies in our sun room, and in the winter, we have a fire and watch in the living room.”
Share the love
Who says family movie night has to stay in the family? Karin K. of Laguna Beach, California, suggests inviting another family or two to join in the fun. “Without that, it just feels like watching TV,” she says.
This post was created by SheKnows for Disney’s Ralph Breaks the Internet.