Nothing says “summer” like outdoor entertaining. For a new twist on the mostly obsolete summer tradition of a drive-in movie, an outdoor movie party is a real crowd pleaser. You provide the food, drink and movie; your friends provide the blankets and enthusiasm.
Lisa Wakefield, a blogger at prairiehive.com in Tulsa, Oklahoma, says she always dreamed of showing a movie outside. The first hurdle: what to use as a screen. After several tries to find an all-white drop cloth (most are actually tan — too dark for a movie to show up on them), she settled for a PVC-coated drop cloth. This choice was ideal in that it was almost white, heavy enough not to blow around easily in the wind, and shiny on one side for projecting the movie onto it.
Next: rent a projector. Several online retailers offer this service, or you can check with retail camera or electronics stores in your area. Among the online resources are atsrentals.com, funflicks.com and source1rentals.com. Expect to pay between $75 and $90 for one night’s rental — speakers and a rented screen can drive the price as high as $300. Pick a family-friendly movie (also available from these rental outfits), and you’re halfway there.
Although you could set up your decorations in a theme according to your chosen movie, it’s not really necessary, says Wakefield. Hanging lanterns, popcorn and candy, fresh flowers and festive lighting are all you really need. As shown here, consider flavor varieties among the popcorn as well as the candy.
Besides the traditional buttered and salted popcorn, try these:
- Curry popcorn: 1/2 cup popcorn kernels popped in vegetable oil tossed with 1 tablespoon curry powder (4 servings)
- Bacon popcorn: 1/2 cup popcorn kernels popped in 1 tablespoon bacon fat; drizzle with 1/4 stick of melted butter and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup; toss. Sprinkle two strips of crispy bacon, crumbled, on top of popcorn. (4 servings)
Although BYOB (bring your own blanket) is perfectly acceptable for your outdoor movie night, you can take your seating up a notch (or four!) with giant outdoor cushions. No need to include the chaise, shown above (potterybarn.com, $899), to achieve comfy seating. Just order the double-wide cushions and lay them on the ground to spoil your lucky guests.
When the sun goes down, start the movie and watch the magic unfold. You will have hosted a night everyone will remember — and one that everyone will likely ask you to do again.