Summer Entertaining :: Movie Night Under The Stars

Life's a Party Parties + Gatherings

I love the movies!  More than that, I love watching movies with friends.

The lights go down, eyes widen, popcorn crunching, soda slurping, sweet anticipation of an epic, technicolor tale about to be played out right before your eyes – twenty feet tall!  Laughing, crying, covering your eyes, holding your breath, jolted out of your seat – the movie unfolds, frame by frame, as you and your friends share a crazy, dreamy, hilarious, wild ride, side by side.  And afterwards, everyone goes home safe and sound.

The first time I saw an outdoor movie was in Monte Carlo.  As a recent high school graduate on Summer vacation with my best friend, we were in high pursuit of fun. Like crazy French, European style, champagne-bottle-spraying, bikini clad, wild fun. Little did we know Monte Carlo is a low key, sleepy kind of town, not one particularly interested in rocking the worlds of eighteen year old American girls.


It wasn’t fussy or high tech – just a white sheet draped over some rope, tied between two trees outside in the garden. Thirty or so folding bamboo chairs with seat cushions were placed neatly in rows, surrounded by blooming orange blossoms, bursting from trees in gigantic terra-cotta pots, the fragrance carried by the warm, balmy breeze was intoxicating. The uneven stone pavers – made the chairs rock gently to one side.

It all looked very innocent and totally unassuming, as I caught a glimpse of the scene walking just outside the grounds of our hotel.  Charming I thought, but so not cool or chic. That is until I saw the most stylish and stunning group of young men and women laughing and chatting excitedly walking towards me.  They turned and filed through the stone archway into the garden, where the do-it-yourself movie screen and folding chairs quickly filled up with these beautiful, Monte Carlo, young people.

As the sun sank below the horizon and the twinkle lights popped with bright bursts of light from the trees, a tray of champagne was passed around and glasses handed out. The bubbles glistened with bouncing light from the twinkle lights. Then all grew quiet, as if a magic spell had turned down the volume.  The stars shined brightly against the deep, blue black sky – the movie was about to begin.


Seriously, this moment, this vision, will be forever imprinted in my mind and soul.  It was the coolest, chicest thing I had ever seen.  Thanks to that fateful Summer, I became officially obsessed with outdoor movies.  They are fun, romantic, and a fabulous way to add some major pizazz to a Summer party.

Chic and stylish or down home cool, you can’t go wrong hosting a movie night under the stars.  And these days it has never been easier  with rental companies carrying inflatable screens and outdoor projectors for minimal costs. Home Depot even has a screen you can buy and have shipped to your home.  Of course you can always go ‘Monte Carlo’ style and hang a white sheet high over rope, tied between two trees, get out the projector and pop the champagne!

Of course we can’t forget the movie food. Below are 3 fresh & fun ways to serve food on these evenings.  All of these ideas are a simple take on the traditional movie food or you can opt for my healthy option suggestions and make it guilt free or gut free – either way will make for a treat for you and your guests.


1. Mini Candy Bar.

For the candy you can set up a snack bar of your favorite mini candy bars. Try the Bento rectangular platter from CB2 and lay the candy out all in a row.

For the healthy option exchange candy for delicious & chewy roasted nut bars, dried fruit bars and fruit juice gummies – I love Tasty Brands – the founders Shannon & Liane are friends so I can assure you they’re divine!


2. Printable Popcorn Bags.

To create these popcorn bags all you need is a home printer, this free downloadable popcorn template, and these 5″ x 7.5″ white bags. To print directly on the bags just download the free template here, put the white bags in the paper feed (it depends on your printer) and then print. Fill the bags with popcorn and place a few in bowls like these modern bowls.  Too much work, pick up several of these vintage popcorn bowls or baskets and let your friends help themselves.

Popcorn Tip: For a gourmet popcorn option drizzle olive oil, truffle oil or rosemary oil over the fresh popped corn with several pinches of Kosher or sea salt and fresh cracked pepper – you’ll never miss the butter!


3. Mini Sodas.

For the mini sodas you can purchase these Greenware cups with lids and fill them with ice and brightly colored sodas – I love Izzy’s fresh sparkling juices – no refined sugar, artificial colors, flavoring or chemicals.  Top them with straws and pass them out right before the movie starts.

4. Champagne Bar.

Of course if it’s an adult party there’s nothing better than a champagne bar – this also makes for an excellent pairing with your gourmet popcorn.  Try Gruet Champagne – it’s dry, light and not sweet, as well as a great value. I use this for all my big parties.

Now you can create your own magical nights and  Summer memories with friends and family without ever leaving your backyard. How Fun is that!

XO ~ L


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