How to Host an Outdoor Movie Night

Light the citronella candles, pop the corn, and use the cooler as a footstool – it’s an old-fashioned outdoor movie night! And since staying in is the new going out, this is the perfect summer to whip up the backyard (or side yard or front porch or driveway) cinema that you’ve always dreamed of. Here’s our tips for how to host a (socially distant) outdoor movie night for any budget.

Step 1. Pick a spot

If you have a plain white wall that’s flat, you’re in business and skip to step #3. If not, find a spot where you can set some chairs up – you’ll want to be at least 8 feet away (depending on where your projector is). Next, consider if you are hanging a screen or if you are using a screen on a stand. That will determine if you need any hardware to make your screen.

Step 2. Make a screen

There are a ton of ways to make a screen depending on your budget, time, and desire to use power tools. But the one thing that all screens need – regardless of means or mode – is to be pulled taut. There are a few ways you can do this:

  • Get an old, white sheet or shower curtain and use some heavy-duty double side tape (a LOT of it) to pull and stick the edges of your fabric to the surface. This method is temporary and only works with lightweight fabric, but it’s just about as thrifty as they come!
  • If you’re using something more heavy duty like a white canvas or drop cloth, cut a small hole in the top left and right corners and hook onto some nails or S-hooks. To pull it taut, fold the bottom of the fabric in and sew a small pocket with open hole on either end. Run a wood dowel or curtain rod through the tube pocket to weigh down the screen.
  • If you’re up for a trip to the hardware store, you can build a 100” frame for under $50 and a few hours of DIY. You’ll need a few 1 x 4 plywood beams, a handful of nails, a staple gun, and white blackout cloth. Think of it as a giant painter’s canvas. Here’s a good YouTube tutorial we’ve used before.

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Step 3. Hook up an A/V system

Like the screen set up,  there are about a zillion ways that you can hook up an A/V system depending on your budget, desired lumens, and whether or not you NEED to watch Jurassic Park in surround sound. You can buy projectors from anywhere up to $5,000 or a $50 mini projector that hooks up to your cell phone.

Do your research and figure out which one is right for your budget and needs. If you’re just testing the waters, ask around and see if anyone has one you can borrow for the night. If you do buy one, we recommend shopping local. And even if it’s a big chain store, shopping at the local branch keeps jobs in your community and your carbon footprint lower!

Also, don’t forget about the sound! Some projectors have a built-in speaker, but we suggest plugging in an amp or a speaker to get the full effect! Who wants to listen to listen to American Graffiti out of a rinky-dink speaker? Not us.

Step 4. Pop the corn

Seriously, what’s the point of a movie night with no popcorn?  Save the microwave stuff for the winter and pop the kernels over some high heat. Toss it with all the yums.

  • Plain old butter and salt
  • Sugar, salt, oil of choice (aka DIY Kettle Corn)
  • Brewer’s yeast and coconut oil
  • Olive oil, dried herbs and garlic salt

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Step 5. Invite some friends

Or keep it just your family – up to you. Invite friends and neighbors (assuming you have 6 feet of space to spare between friends) and tell them to BYO blankets and chairs. Extra air fives if they add something to the cooler.

Step 6. Pick a Movie

The reason for the season. A few of our summer favorites…  

The Goonies – The classic

Coming to America – For the grown-up movie night

Step into Liquid – When you’re dreaming of waves

Searching for Sugar Man – Good tunes, great story

Dirty Dancing – Gives “family vacation” a whole new meaning

Dazed and Confused – We get older, this movie stays the same age

Sister Act – Gospel music meets the mob. Make it a double feature with Sister Act II

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – Don’t forget your heels

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Watch This, Drink That: Holiday Movie Drinking Games

Nothing gets us in the holiday spirit like a festive cocktail and a good holiday flick (and maybe a Cashmoore Blanket). Gather your bar cart, light a fire, and curl up – we’ve got your holiday couch agenda covered with our favorite drinking games for Christmas and holiday movies. As always, drink responsibly and refrain from operating sleighs after consumption.

Watch: Elf – Released over 15 years ago (Yikes, we know – take a drink for that), this cheery comedy is one of our Yuletide faves. Will Ferrell as the tallest, most enthusiastic elf-slash-human, can do no wrong.

Drink: Spiked egg nog, with a dash of maple syrup. Drink every time Buddy the Elf refers to himself in the third person, every time sugar is referenced, and every time you hear a holiday-friendly alternative to a swear or an insult.

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Watch: The Santa Clause – Despite the fact that things start out a little dark (Let’s not forget this movie begins with Santa’s traumatic fall off the roof), things quickly turn around and The Santa Clause is a true holiday classic.

Drink: Hot cocoa (with peppermint schnapps). Not too hot. Extra chocolate. Shaken, not stirred. Drink every time Tim Allen raises his eyebrows, every time Neil rocks an awful (but also kind of awesome) sweater, and every time someone mentions The North Pole.

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Watch: The Holiday – Filled with adorable (and OK, totally unrealistic) meet cutes, Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet’s life swap turned love story gets us in the spirit to celebrate “being young and being alive” year after year.

Drink: A champagne toast. Drink every time you catch yourself staring at Jude Law, every time someone cries, and finish your drink when you get on Airbnb to look for holiday homes.

Watch: Home Alone – Kevin McAllister, master of booby traps, makes a left-home-alone-holiday look equal parts amazing and terrifying.

Drink: Pepsi with a shot of whiskey. For the Home Alone drinking game, drink every time Kevin McAllister talks to himself (can’t say we blame him), every time Harry’s (aka Joe Pesci) gold tooth sparkles, and every time someone runs panicked through an airport.

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Watch: Bridget Jones’s Diary – A hilarious adaptation of the novel, Renée Zellweger as Bridget Jones makes us all feel a little bit better about our own lives during the holidays.

Drink: A bottle of whatever is in the fridge. No time for judgment here. Drink every time there’s an expletive, every time Bridget drops some shade, and every time you see your favorite reindeer jumper.

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Watch: Die Hard – This 1988 action thriller was voted the greatest Christmas movie by readers of British film magazine Empire in 2015. Enough said.

Drink: Straight Vodka. Drink every time someone says, “This isn’t a Christmas movie,” every time there’s a reference to Christmas (to prove your point), and take a shot in Alan Rickman’s honor whenever you feel like it.

Watch: Love Actually – Nine stories intertwine to bring us a watch-every-year-and-it-never-gets-old holiday favorite. Plus, Hugh Grant dancing.

Drink: Mulled Wine (a favorite, easy recipe here). Drink every time you hear the smash-hit “Christmas is All Around,” every time someone orchestrates a big romantic gesture, and every time Sarah’s (Laura Linney) phone rings. When you’re through with the Love Actually drinking game, you’ll likely be dancing along.

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Watch: A Very Murray Christmas – Because there’s never a bad moment for some quality time with Mr. Murray, and this eclectic musical comedy includes a lengthy list of guest appearances (George Clooney, Jason Schwartzman, Miley Cyrus, Maya Rudolph, the list goes on…)

Drink: A strong martini. Bonus points if you’ve got a white piano to sit atop. Drink every time a new celeb makes a cameo (don’t plan on driving anywhere after this game).

Watch: How the Grinch Stole Christmas – The first Dr. Seuss book to be adapted into a full-length feature film, this unexpectedly heartwarming holiday favorite reminds us that Christmas “doesn’t come from a store,” and that The Grinch drinking game is always a good idea.

Drink: The Santa Shot. 1 part grenadine syrup, 1 part green creme de menthe, 1 part peppermint schnapps (recipe here). Drink every time The Grinch accidentally rhymes, has a fleeting moment of feeling, and every time Cindy Lou Who visits Mount Crumpit. Finish your drink when The Grinch’s heart grows.

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Watch This, Drink That: Halloween Edition

If you’re like us, you’ve watched Hocus Pocus every October for the last two decades (and why not? Bette Midler IS Halloween). If you’re ready to change things up (and no, that doesn’t mean watching Nightmare Before Christmas…) these films should scratch the itch. Pair with spirits for an extra spooky time (sorry, we just couldn’t help ourselves).

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Watch: Shaun of the Dead – The zombie apocalypse movie to rule them all. It’s funny, jumpy, and features some classic zombie-gore. There’s even a little romance, so you really can have it all.

Drink: Boddington’s Pub Ale. Drink every time someone says “pub,” someone says “Winchester,” or a zombie gets whacked.

Watch: Rocky Horror Picture Show – Fun fact: RHPS has the longest-running theatrical release in history, screening in cinemas across the world every year since 1975. Why the unstoppable run? Most performances turn into cult-like, fan-cast performances. If you haven’t been, check your local cinema listings.

Drink: Irish Coffee. You’ll need the liquid inhibition and caffeine to get you through a midnight viewing/performance.

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Watch: Clue – Doesn’t get more Halloween than a who-done-it in a gothic mansion. The 1985 theatrical release included three possible endings, with different theaters receiving one of the three finales. The original “Gotta catch ’em all.”

Drink: Anything from a can…and open it yourself. Invite your friends and give each a different drink in a paper bag. Bonus points for whoever guesses what they got first. A little trick, a little treat.

Watch: Coco – Disney Pixar pulls at the heartstrings in this gorgeous film about Mexico’s Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) traditions. Plus, the song “Remember Me” hits us with the feels every time. We’re not crying, you’re crying.

Drink: Spiked Horchata. How you spike it is your call, but rum, bourbon, and tequila all pack a good punch. Garnish with a little cinnamon.

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Watch: Ghostbusters – Because Bill Murray can do no wrong and we miss Harold Ramis. Channel the supernatural with the 1984 box office smash. Apologies in advance for the theme song being stuck in your head for the entirety of November.

Drink: Chartreuse Mezcal Margarita. 1 part mezcal, 1 part Green Chartreuse, 1 part maraschino, 1 part lemon (or lime) juice. BYO Proton Pack.

Watch: Rosemary’s Baby – Paranoia, persecution, and parenthood – what could possibly go wrong? Guy and Rosemary Woodhouse find the dark side of domestic bliss in their NYC apartment building. Best to watch if you’ve already got kids… and they don’t have their father’s eyes…

Drink: Manhattan. Chilled.

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Watch: Beetlejuice – (Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice!) It’s said that Tim Burton’s only character direction for Michael Keaton was that he “lived in every time period, but was of no time period.” The result: a lovable ghoul and a quirky underworld that feels more like a fun-house than eternal damnation.

Drink: Pina Colada (and a Shrimp Cocktail). That calypso dance scene just has us feeling some sort of way… DAAAYOOO, me say DAYOO…

Watch this: Silence of the Lambs – BEWARE: Our copywriter was born after her mother went into labor while watching Silence of the Lambs in theaters. Soon-to-be moms, you’ve been warned.

Drink: A Nice Chianti. Maybe a little fava bean snack?

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Watch: Ghost – Fact: Patrick Swayze is the ghost of our dreams. Also fact: Ghost kicked off a national ceramics craze after premiering in July 1990. Just yes to all of it.

Drink: A buttery chardonnay (by the bottle) and a box of tissues for each person.

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Watch: The Addams Family – They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky, they’re altogether… the First Family of macabre and fantastic inspiration for next year’s group costume. #AngelicaHouston4Evr

Drink: Sangria. Get a little monster smashed.

Day 9 Advent: A Christmas Story Drinking Game

 

What’s the holidays without holiday movies and booze? For Day 9 of our  25 Days of Toad Advent Calendar we’re turning an innocent viewing of A Christmas Story into a good old fashioned drinking game. So our yourself a cold one (beer or Ovaltine) and get in the holiday spirit with leg lamps, frozen poles, dorky glasses and a pepto-bismol-pink bunny suit. Check back tomorrow for a new goody as our advent continues!

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Take a drink…

… Every time Ralphie says he wants a Red Ryder BB Gun. Pace yourself. He REALLY wants that BB gun.

… Every time someone tells Ralphie that he’ll shoot his eye out.

… When you see the Bumpus Hounds.

… For every dare. Again, pace yourself. These kids know how to peer pressure.

… For every “+”  Ralph gets in his school fantasy.

… Every time Mr. Parker curses in gibberish.

… Every time Ralphie curses in gibberish.

Hop on one leg and finish your drink when Ralphie wears the pink bunny suit. Then refuel. Or switch to water. Hydration is key during the holidays.

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