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Summer Fun

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Host an outdoor movie night

Outdoor activities are even more fun when the weather cooperates. Pleasant temperatures and conditions can entice people who are normally content to stay indoors to venture outside and enjoy the fresh air. There are a number of activities, from cooking to entertaining, that are ideal for summer fun. But what about watching a movie?

Although the number of drive-in movie theaters may be on the decline, that doesn't have to keep movie buffs from enjoying a film with friends and family al fresco. Certain parks, municipal recreation centers and businesses host movie nights under the stars for large groups in the summertime. However, homeowners can host an outdoor movie night right in their own backyards.

* Establish the "screen" spot well in advance. A few different scenarios can make watching a movie more enjoyable. You will need a large enough surface to act as the movie screen. If yours is a light-colored home, you can project the image directly on a patch of siding that is not broken by windows or doors. Otherwise, you will need to erect a tarp, sheet, shower curtain, or an actual screen to serve as the backdrop. Test out the movie-watching experience prior to inviting people over to ensure that the movie is clearly visible and is not marred by street lights or obstructions like overhanging branches.

* Invest in a projector. In order to project the movie onto the big screen, you will need a projector. Electronics stores sell projectors that can hook up to everything from DVDand Blu-ray players to smartphones. Some are small enough to travel in your pocket. If a friend has a projector, you can also ask to borrow it. The higher you can mount the projector, the better it will be to avoid picture blockage. Also, keep in mind that the bigger the screen the higher the resolution projector you will need. A high definition projector is your best bet, especially one with an HDMI input.

* Have a sound system. Don't skimp on a sound system; otherwise you'll have a big, impressive movie picture without adequate sound. You can only turn up some projectors so much before experiencing distortion, so it is best to purchase some speakers so you can project the sound to guests who are sitting around the yard. A stereo receiver or an old sound system that you can buy on an auction site or garage sale should suffice.

* Create the theater. Theaters are built with staggered seating in which seats are set on a gradually increasing angle. This may not be possible in a yard unless you have a nicely sloping hill. Place blankets or sheets down front for children or shorter adults and then place folding chairs for adults. You can also opt for guests to bring their own chairs if you do not have enough.

* Have movie snacks on hand. Snack foods, especially finger foods, work best for outdoor movie nights. Give everyone a paper lunch bag they can fill up with snacks from a snack table and then take with them to their seats. Have a cooler filled with beverages in close proximity to your seats. If you're creative, you can tie in the snacks to the theme of the movie. For example, if you're watching a film with dinosaurs, then serve dinosaur-shaped gummy fruits.

* Plan for an intermission. Pause the movie halfway so guests can stand up and stretch or visit the restroom. This also enables them to refill any drinks or snacks.

* Give neighbors a heads-up. As a courtesy to your neighbors, let them know you will be having a movie night in the yard, and for a few hours there may be more noise than usual. Try to time the viewing so it will not stray too far into sleeping hours when neighbors may be disturbed. Better yet, invite them to the festivities.