Make: Backyard Theater DIY

Yes, YOU can create a backyard movie theater!

Just the other night, our friends Melodi and Asher hosted a backyard movie night. The sky was clear, the air crisp, the crowd just right…the perfect way to spend a southern California evening. I’ve sat in on a handful of backyard movies now and, each time, I am inspired to host my own. Here, we have an easy DIY checklist to assist you in doing the honors yourself.

The night began before the sun actually set, so we all could catch up and converse over some cocktails and snacks. We projected a “preview” film as guests arrived to set the mood and, at exactly 6:30pm, the feature presentation began. (Though the party may start early, I highly recommend communicating an exact start time so your guests know the latest they can arrive for the movie.)


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One of the best parts of going to the movies is the snack bar, amirite? The smell of the popcorn, the sound of the soda machine, and even just the thought of a box of candy. The beauty of hosting a backyard movie is that you get to choose the menu. Want all-organic or vegan snacks? Done. The food to go with the theme of the movie? FUN. A full dinner before? Easy. The choice is yours but, in case you need a little help in getting started, check out the list below:

Shopping list:

-Air popped popcorn. Trader Joe’s supplies a good bag of organic popcorn with olive oil, or you can make your own tasty version of Curry Butter Popcorn. Serve the popcorn in small mason jars for easy refills.

-Red Vines or licorice

-Crackers and cheese (or similar finger food)

-A bag of pre-packaged candies

-Soda or sparkling water, or beer or wine

-A warm drink. Try an apple cider with chicory spirits or a vegan hot chocolate.



The set up is yours for the making, depending on the space available in your backyard and how many people will be in attendance. Melodi and Asher have a ton of room in their backyard so they were able to incorporate a couch, two lounge chairs, two lawn chairs and two ottomans. The ottomans (or a small coffee table) is a great idea for a foot rest or a place to hold drinks and snacks.

Set up:

-Couch, chairs, lawn chairs for sitting. Add a rug underneath for maximum coziness.

-Blankets. It’s going to get chilly, so think “the more the merrier” when considering warmth. Hot tip: ask each person attending the show to bring their own blankets.

-Ottoman or small coffee table/end tables for drink and snack placement.

-Laptop to play movie. Large portable speaker. Long electric cord for laptop.

-Small table to hold speaker and/or laptop.

-Projector! I’ve owned this one for years and love it.

-Candles, tiki torches or twinkle lights to add ambience and quiet light. (You may want to turn these off during the actual movie for a clearer image.)

-Large blank wall on which to project the movie. Or hang a large white sheet to create the same effect.

-Flowers or succulents for the tables. They always help set the mood.


+Has anyone else hosted backyard movie nights? I’d love to hear what works best for you!

Follow Joanna on Instagram.

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5 years ago

I would sooo love to throw such a party, if I had a packyard that would be my first thing to do! It looks so coazy with the rug and the sofa and the blankets!

5 years ago

Such a cute idea! Might actually do this for a relaxed birthday shingdig.
Kyah /

5 years ago
5 years ago

Love this idea! Side note I have the exact same orange, yellow and brown afghan in the pictures! Using it at this very moment, never thought I would see another one like it! Best blanket ever!

5 years ago

What a FUN idea :-D

5 years ago

What a FUN idea! :-D

5 years ago

I’m in love with this idea! Thank you!

5 years ago

I love this idea! Very nifty! I was thinking of doing something similar with the boyfriend – perhaps in the living room or on the patio since we don’t have a backyard. Something nice and intimate.

4 years ago

This would be a great idea. I can make this scene with the use of family tree wall decals!