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Style Magazine

A Movie Under the Stars: Tips for Your At-Home Outdoor Cinema

Since we're in California where the weather allows us to be outdoors most of the year, there is every reason to not only swim, eat, and lounge outdoors but entertain al fresco, too. While you could choose to dance or sing with friends and family, there is something very magical about watching movies outdoors. The big screen, snuggling under blankets when it gets chilly, and being able to grab whatever you like to eat or drink from the house or outdoor kitchen are just some of the reasons to try this at home. A backyard film-screening party can involve the whole neighborhood or be a causal romantic evening for two. Either way, the thoughtful touches really make it a night to remember. 

Check out these entertaining and design elements to shape your outdoor theater and then get outfitted with all the gear you need to make movie magic in your very own backyard.  

  • String Italian lights overhead to provide just the right amount of illumination while allowing viewers to take in the show effortlessly.
  • If you don’t have a screen to project upon, use a couple of ironed, white, flat bedsheets strung between two poles to create one. Alternatively, if you have a solid outdoor wall, consider projecting upon it.
  • Create a refreshment center using vintage ice coolers or metal side tables to support a bevy of beverage choices to take you through the evening. A root beer or orange float station is never a bad idea—the fizzy soda mixed with ice cream and sprinkles speaks to kids and adults alike.
  • Create a walkway with candle-filled lanterns. The subtle flicker adds to the ambience and helps guests see their way to and from the house.
  • Make freshly popped popcorn (I love air-popped with butter and salt!) with tasty additions like M&Ms and nuts. Guests can create their own salty-sweet mix to indulge in during the movie.
  • Provide plush oversized throw pillows and blankets so everyone can get comfy. Outdoor, fade-proof and moisture-resistant fabrics allow for worry-free use on lawns and hardscape.
  • Burn citronella candles or keep other bug-repelling sprays on hand.
  • Let kids curl up in sleeping bags during the movie—if they fall asleep, no problem.
  • Roast s’mores together over a fire pit or barbeque before or after the show. The experience will be both tasty and memorable.
  • Don’t forget to hang a fun banner over the screen to add the perfect celebratory feel!

So, gather your pillows, blankets, snacks, and a stack of your favorite flicks to kickstart your outdoor theater in style.

"Our Happy Place" indoor/outdoor pillow

"Our Happy Place" indoor/outdoor pillow $37.99, 

Not Too Shabby, 729 Sutter Street, Folsom, 916-985-8979,

Custom Built Cooler Stand

Custom Built Cooler Stand, $250 

(prices vary for custom orders) at GH Woodworks, 707 Sutter Street, Folsom, 916-747-9984,


Lanterns, $11.99 and $13.99

at Luxe Living, 728 Sutter Street, Folsom,

Caramel Popcorn

Caramel Popcorn, $6.50 

at Snook’s Candies and Chocolate Factory, 731 Sutter Street, Folsom, 916-985-0620,

Roasting Sticks

Roasting Sticks (bundle of eight), $49.99 at

Teton Sports Fahrenheit Sleeping Bag

Teton Sports Fahrenheit Sleeping Bag, $64.99 

at Sportsman’s Warehouse, 6640 Lonetree Boulevard, Rocklin, 916-782-9900,