Welcome to my blog!

This is a place to share my many ideas, (along with a story or two), about party planning from the theme to the thank you note, organization from your closets to your kid's artwork, and home decor, from wall color to window treatments. I have a passion for graphic design, fine art, photography, interior design and a great party! Creativity and the visually aesthetic get my juices flowing and I hope this blog can be a place to have fun exchanging ideas and resources and help your creative juices flow too!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Back Yard Movie Night!

Two years ago, my husband and I hosted our first neighborhood back yard movie night.  It's a short season here in Vermont since it doesn't start getting dark enough to do at a reasonable hour for the kids, until September (which makes it a fun way to kick off the school year) and it typically gets too cold to do come November...then again, we've never attempted a winter-time one.  I suppose we could all just bundle up and we plan to get a fire pit, so maybe it'll be doable.  Or maybe we could get an overhead space heater...hmmm.  Anyway, the school year as started and it started getting darker earlier, so we just hosted our first BYMN of the season.  The feature presentation was The Lorax.  With 26 people, it was our biggest turn out yet (and 24 others couldn't make it)!  I had posted the about photo on my Facebook page and tagged the attendees based on the questions and comments I received, as well as hearing people talk about it at my daughter's soccer practice a week later, I decided it was worthy of a post to give all the information I can about how to host a back yard movie night of your own.  So gather up your friends and neighbors, set up the A/V system and pop some popcorn.  You'll be glad you did!

Our Set-Up:

The first screen (pictured in the above photo) and our current, larger screen (which we'll use for the first time at our next movie night) were both made from blackout fabric from Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores.  The first screen was made out of a single panel of blackout fabric and had a strip of wood stapled to both the top and bottom.  The current, bigger screen, was made by sewing two panels together and stapling a strip of wood to the top and sewing a pole pocket on the bottom and sticking a steel rod (which you can get at any local hardware store) though it since my husband couldn't get a long enough piece of wood.

Portable Outdoor A/V System:

My husband has been planning this for 5 years so each time we upgraded in audio-visual components, he saved our old ones to use for his outdoor system.

Note: Everything is permanently fixed to the cart so he can wheel it in and out of the house without risk of anything falling off the cart.
  • Garden and Home Organizer cart: Amazon
  • Epson Projector: Amazon 
  • Old Audio Receiver (our new TV forced us to upgrade receivers so we used our old one)
  • DVD Player (when we upgraded to Blu-ray we saved our old DVD player)
  • Cheap Car Speakers: eBay
  • Bass Cannon Subwoofer my husband has been hanging onto one he's had since he was 16 years old
  • Extension Cord
  • Protective Cover: my husband was going to make one but he had an electric smoker cover that he had been meaning to return  but thought that maybe it could work as a cover and to his amazement, it fit perfectly.

What You'll Need:
  • Screen: Any white flat surface will do.  You could even project it on the side of your house if you want but obviously, the whiter and flatter, the better it looks.   
  • A/V Stand: Last year, when we borrowed our neighbor's projector, all the equipment just got tied to a step ladder.  If you plan on hoisting many movie nights you may want to create a permanent and portable system rather than setting one up and taking it apart each time.
  • Projector: There are a million of them out there, it just depends on what you want to spend.   The cheapest option is to repurpose one.  Try finding one at a garage sale. 
  • DVD Player: A DVD player is a DVD player.
  • Audio Receiver: Any audio receiver will do.
  • Speakers: Any cheap, generic speakers will do.
  • Bass Cannon: If you don't have a subwoofer of some sort it will sound a bit twangy and you won't have the lower frequency sounds that give you that real world feeling that you're in the movie.
  • Extension Cord: Just the obvious; it has to be able to reach your outlet.
So basically the only thing that really matters when getting your equipment together is to make sure the outputs match the inputs.

Other Stuff:

Seating: For the kids: BYO blanket or sleeping bag to sit on the grass up by the screen.  This last time one of our smart neighbors thought to bring giant tarp for the kids to put their blankets and sleeping bags on and it kept everything nice and dry.  I highly recommend using a tarp.  For the adults: BYO camping chair.

Popcorn: Popcorn simply makes movie watching better.  You can provide it or make it BYO.   This last time I made this last showing a BYO movie snack night (I figured parents would bring water bottles and anything they wanted to drink as well) but one of my thoughtful neighbors (who was too sick to join us) sent over a bunch of microwave popcorn bags for the group, so of course, I used them and nary a kernel was left at the end of the night.  In the past I've put out different sizes of mixing bowls but I'd love to have special popcorn ones like these:

Or you could also hand out individual servings in fun bags or boxes like these:

Other Snacks: Another neighbor surprised us all with chocolate chip cookies and they were a huge hit among the group.  While popcorn makes movie watching better, chocolate makes everything better.

I hope this post inspires you to host your own back yard movie night and I'd love to hear all about it!
Have fun!


New Screen Debut for "The Muppets"