How to Turn Your Backyard Into an Open-Air Movie Theater

All you need is a king-sized sheet and some kid-friendly snacks.

Blue and Pink Food

photography by MAGDALENA WOSINSKA


Los Angeles-based event stylist, industrious DIY-er, and mom Amy Blessing wanted to maximize the time her family and friends spent outside. The solution: throwing an old-school movie night under the stars inspired by vintage SoCal hangouts, when you would grab a hoodie, unfold a brightly woven lawn chair, and snack on post-beach tacos.

Elizabeth Colling, food stylist, owner of Merci to Go (a farmers’ market–driven food shop in Montecito), and mom of two, served the kids classic finger foods in colorful baskets and checkerboard wax paper. All that was left was for the sun to set.

Here's how to recreate the scene in your own backyard.

In the lead image: Plastic Serving Tray by Winco, Lions Deal, $1.89; Checked Deli Sandwich Paper, Web Restaurant Store, $12.99/pack; Paper Cups, Bonjour Fete, 24 for $4.50; Oval Chicago Platter, Web Restaurant Store; La Iris Blanket, Las Bayadas, $69.

Blue and Orange and Pink Food, vegetables, crudite

photography by MAGDALENA WOSINSKA


Frazada Blankets, St. Frank, $475 to $525; Southern Champion White Tray, Web Restaurant Store, from $17.99/case.

The Concessions
“Really fun, really simple” was Colling’s vision for the taqueria truck–style movie night menu, which included a rainbow of kid-friendly crudites.

Orange and Pink and Taupe Food

photography by MAGDALENA WOSINSKA


Frazada Blankets, St. Frank, $475 to $525; Plastic Serving Tray by Winco, Lions Deal, $1.89; Treat Cups, Bonjour Fete, 6 for $2.95.

Sweet & Savory Popcorn 
Prepare two big bowls of freshly popped corn. In the first, spritz white or apple cider vinegar on the popcorn and lightly toss with sea salt. Set aside.

On the stovetop, melt miniature marshmallows with butter, and mix into the second bowl. Then melt chocolate chips and pour on top. Toss in crushed graham crackers and solid chocolate chips. Mix well and serve in individual colorful paper tubs.

Blue and Orange and White popsicles

photography by MAGDALENA WOSINSKA


Sunset Pops
Stock up on a few fresh fruit juices in different colors to create an ombré effect (like pomegranate, strawberry, orange, and lemonade, seen here). Starting with the darkest color, pour a small amount into the Popsicle molds, let freeze for a few hours, then add the next darkest hue, freeze, and repeat.

Blue and Pink Portrait

photography by MAGDALENA WOSINSKA


“It’s pretty when they blend into one another, so experiment with the ratios and freezing times,” says Colling. Pops can be made several days ahead and are a fun experiment with the kids on those endless summer days. 

Blue and Pink Patio

photography by MAGDALENA WOSINSKA


Playing on the big screen: Given, a surf-quest movie in the tradition of Endless Summer—as seen through the eyes of a six-year-old.

DIY Movie Screen
Inexpensive and pretty quick to rig up, here’s how to make the centerpiece to your movie night:

1. Get a king-size white sheet with a deep hem. Buy a long climbing cord in a cute color (length should be the width of your sheet, plus a few extra feet on both ends), and three 36-inch-long wooden dowels from a hardware store. 

2. Using a seam ripper or small scissors, snip open the seam on either side of the hem (leaving the length of the hem intact), so you have an opening through which to thread the cord. Think of it like a curtain rod—with the cord being the rod and the sheet being the curtain. 

3. Attach an open safety pin to one end of the climbing cord and pull it through the top of the sheet until the cord is taut, with a couple of extra feet outside the sheet on each end. Remove safety pin.

4. Push the three dowels through the bottom seam until evenly spaced to weigh down the sheet at the bottom.

5. To hang the sheet, tie each end of cord onto a tree branch. Accessorize your screen with colorful paper lanterns, set up the projector, and dish out the popcorn!

Blue and Pink Portrait

photography by MAGDALENA WOSINSKA


Blue and Pink Portrait

photography by MAGDALENA WOSINSKA


Mykonos Apron Dress, Lindsey Berns, $105; Aegean Dress, Lindsey Berns, $84; Ombré Paper Lanterns, Paper Lantern Store, $2 each.

Brown and White Food

photography by MAGDALENA WOSINSKA


Read more from the summer 2017 issue:
A Local's Guide To Coastal Italy
5 Up & Coming Charleston Designers You Need to Know
Twice as Nice: A Joint Bridal Shower for Creative Twin Sisters


This story is part of our 100 Days of Summer package. See more fun ideas, must-have products, and sunny inspiration here.

Published on June 26, 2017 - 6:30am EDT

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