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Tips for hosting the ultimate outdoor movie night in your own backyard

Want to snuggle up with some blankets on the grass and watch your family’s favourite old movies on a glowing screen under a blanket of stars? Blogger Eren of Virginia says with some easy planning, you can host outdoor movie screenings in your backyard.

“We’re very low-tech,” Eren laughs. She says her husband selected their projector, an Epson MovieMate 55 LCD (“He’s the gadget guy!”), but thinks kids could care less about pixels and picture quality. “It’s just fun for them to watch a movie outside. You don’t have to spend $2,000 on a projector.” (We looked around online and found projectors starting at $85, like this one.) Their screen is a simple white sheet outfitted with grommets and hung on nails hammered into their fence.

Eren invites all her neighbours to her family’s evening movie screenings, which occur through the summer on every other Friday. At the start of the summer, Eren prints up movie schedules and has her three boys deliver them to mailboxes on their bikes.  Planning for the movie nights is kept simple. Eren serves popcorn and lemonade, and seating is old quilts that can be tossed into the wash if they get gummy from spills and sticky fingers.

“It’s great for all ages, because the little ones run around and play in the sandbox, while the older kids eat popcorn and get totally engrossed in the movie. The parents can watch the movie or sit around and chat.” They watch a lot of old movies, because the grownups get to feel nostalgic and the kids get to see a film they’ve likely never seen before. “It’s really brought the neighbourhood together, which is the icing on the cake.”

Though her motto is “simple is better,” Eren says if you wanted to take it one step further you could use a real popcorn maker (like this one from Cusinart) and go crazy with gourmet popcorn seasoning flavours like white cheddar and chocolate-marshmallow. “But we just pop ours in the microwave,” says Eren.

Trust us, Eren, we can get on board with this whole “keep it simple” thing! Also, we’re gonna come hang out in your backyard every other Friday night this summer, okay thanks.

Theatre style popcorn maker, $99.99. Ceramic popcorn bowl, $24. Roll of tickets, $3.98. Inflatable movie screen, $195.49. The Apple Dumpling Gang DVD, $16.99. Epson MovieMate 55 LCD projector, $604.

Eren’s top 5 outdoor movies

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983)

The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975)

Herbie Rides Again (1974)

Swiss Family Robinson (1960)

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