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Outdoor Movie Night 101: Everything you need to know to host the most epic outdoor movie night

This guest post was put together by our excellent friend Jenn Bravo

Our favorite experiences during the Maine summers usually involve friends, Allagash White on draft, and golden hour. Now that we have two kids, we’ve found it a bit harder to make it out to those roof-top happy hours. But that doesn’t mean we can’t kick back with our friends and kids to enjoy the summer evenings together. Cue the outdoor movie night, a regular summer Sunday tradition that literally everyone looks forward to.

Gear

Projector. Picking the right projector for your movie night comes down to the question of preference. Is picture quality super important for your viewing satisfaction? Or is this more of fun experience on a budget? The question is important because projectors can range in quality and price starting at under $100 and maxing out at over $2000. A quick search will help you find the projector right for you.

Screen. If you answered that yes, picture quality is important, you may want to purchase a standing projector screen. A screen ensures the movie gets displayed in all its glory, a necessary accessory if you’re spending big bucks on a projector. That being said, we just nail an old queen-size white sheet to two large pine trees in our backyard. It costs us nothing and somehow feels a bit more cozy and intimate. Call us resourceful, call us Mainers, whatever it is, do what works best for you.

Sound. If you buy a projector that has built-in sound capabilities, you may still want to consider hooking up your own sound. The noise gets muffled outside and it negatively impacts the experience if you can’t hear what’s going on. We’re lucky enough to be related to a “sound guy” who usually sets us up, but most recently we used our old desk speakers (you know the kind, before bluetooth was a thing). They worked fine, however we did notice the difference and would opt for better sound next time.

Cords. We typically download a movie directly to our computer so that we don’t have to worry about WiFi outside. Other options include a DVD/Blu-Ray player, a flash drive, or a streaming device. No matter your choice, just make sure to have the right HDMI connector cables beforehand.

Ambiance

Timing. We get afternoon light in our backyard where we watch, so we have to start our movie very close to sun-down to be able to see the screen. To find out when the sun sets where you live, simply type “sunset in [your location] on 2022” into the Google Search bar and go from there.

Comfort. Whether it be blankets, a sweater, or a lawn chair, we ask our guests to bring whatever would make their experience the most comfortable. For our part, we set out a few wool blankets, cushions from our couch, and a can of bug spray.

Lighting. In our opinion, twinkle lights are a must for any outdoor party. Just don’t set them up too close to the screen!

Movie. Like a classic drive-in theater, we like to plan for a double feature. One for the kiddos followed by one for the adults. But the truth is, as much as we hope the kids will go to bed by the second movie, it almost never happens. This means we usually plan for two animated hits. “Inside Out” and “Sing” have been our best pairing to date, and we highly recommend them.

Food

Dinner: From crockpot pulled pork sliders to pizza delivery, choose a no-fuss crowd-pleasing meal that makes life easier for you. Don’t worry too much about what to pick, everyone’s in it for the beer and candy anyway.

Snacks: Ask anyone their favorite part of the movie theater experience and they’ll likely name a snack from the concession stand. One of our favorite ways to elevate the outdoor movie experience is to bring the concession stand home. Two must-haves that come to mind are popcorn and candy. We’ve done this every which way imaginable. From buckets of gummies and popcorn to individual boxes of the classics, and my favorite so far has been the individual servings. It adds to the nostalgia and gives everyone the choice of their favorite.

Pro-tip: don’t buy the candy online, hop on over to your local drug store and just grab your candy there.

Drinks

Beer. You can’t go wrong with the awesomely refreshing Allagash White and the low-ABV, super versatile River Trip. Plus, they pair perfectly with popcorn and candy. Oh and, we may not have a draft set-up to fulfill our happy-hour dreams at home, but the new cans still make us very, very happy.

Don’t forget the kids! We have yet to meet a kid that doesn’t love a juice box, thus our go-to for entertaining kids. Other options include drink dispensers full of lemonade and water.

There you have it! Everything you need to know to start your next best summer (and fall!) tradition. Enjoy!

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