How To Throw an Outdoor Movie Party

Ever since we moved to the Keller Farmhouse, I’ve wanted to host an outdoor movie night. I’ve seen it done at local parks, church events and of course good ol Pinterest. I love the idea of being outside with close friends watching a classic movie under the stars!

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With 5 gorgeous acres to work with, we have plenty of room, no neighbors and an old barn that was perfect for a screen. My super talented {almost} brother-in-law was inspired by the idea, and whipped out a custom screen framed in reclaimed barn wood. Not only that, see the reclaimed wood bar off to the left? I’ll share a little secret with you. Those are housing my propane tanks. Brilliant right?! He used a vintage door for the top, so they’re easy to access.

If you don’t have a barn to build a screen on, it’s easy to hang a tight white sheet or invest in an Outdoor Movie Screen and projector set. Trust me, after watching a movie outdoors, you’ll never want to watch one inside again!

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For our movie party, we invited a few of our closest couple friends with custom invites by Harper Gray. I’m always so amazed at what she comes up with next. She designed the perfect invite to coordinate our rustic backyard movie theme, packed and shipped in movie reels!!

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Setting up is pretty simple.  Grab every blanket, ottoman and pillow you own, and spread them out sporadically on your lawn.  I didn’t have quite enough, so I picked up extra blankets and ottomans from AllModern and Birch Lane.  They both had a huge variety for really great prices!

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Instead of a dessert table filled with my signature sugar cookies and buttercream cakes, I created a gourmet popcorn and chocolate bar. It was really simple to put together and took way less time than baking a billion different desserts.

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KuKuRuZa Gourmet Popcorn makes the most creative sweet and savory popcorn flavors.  We had a variety of flavors from Jalapeno White Cheddar, Hawaiian Salted Caramel and S’mores, to Truffle Fromage Porcini.

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I picked up my favorite chocolates from Trader Joes,  Costco and See’s Candy and displayed them on wood pedestal cake stands I found on Birch Lane.

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Collect wood cheese boards, buckets, trays and baskets around your home for displaying your popcorn and chocolate.  I lined some old berry baskets with fabric for added color and then them with popcorn for a fun contrast.  The table was topped with a vintage movie projector and vintage reels scattered around from Mariah Ranier Vintage Rentals.

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These cute popcorn boxes are perfect for filling up treats for the show!

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My sister had found this old lit sign at a garage sale for $1 a couple of years ago.  We’d searched high and low for replacement letters with no luck.  Again, genius {almost} brother-in-law picked up some acrylic sheets, letter stickers and made them himself!  The sign was the perfect touch to our outdoor theater.

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Be sure to have extra blankets on hand in case it gets chilly or ask guests to bring their own. I filled a wood bin with extra blankets (also found at AllModern) and picked up boxed candies for the show.

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Enlist a friend to play bartender for the night or create a beverage bar with pre-made drinks in beverage dispensers. It alleviates extra work for the host and ensures you’re able to enjoy your company without working at your own party!

The Invisible Hostess sent the sweetest bartender, Ian, for the night.  He not only made awesome drinks, he even ran to the store for us when we ran out of ice!!  It was such a treat to have him. If you are in the Seattle area, definitely check them out!

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Keep your bar menu simple. We offered three drinks made with Tito’s Vodka.  Moscow Mules, Vodka Tonics and Ruby Crushes all served in the most fantastic copper mugs!

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CopperMugs.com have a HUGE variety of copper mug styles.  They’re all so darn cute, it was hard deciding which to include in our party.  We went with their original smooth, hammered, and stein styles.

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Hot dogs are a classic movie theater food (and one of my favorites). We fed our guests Picnic’s Hot Dogs, an incredible local hot dog company.  We first had Picnic’s at Molly Mesnick’s party in February and fell in love.  They’re beyond sweet and willing to work with any theme, and come with more topping options than you could ever imagine. The crowd favorite was cream cheese. Have you tried it?!

We made a simple wood backdrop for the Picnic’s Hot Dog table by stringing an adorable dipped dyed tassel garland by Paper White Designs.

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If you don’t want to hire out, create your own hot dog bar!  Pick up a hot dog roller, buns, toppings and you’re set!  (I love this vintage style hot dog roller for a smaller crowd.)  We put our mustard, ketchup and mayo in these nostalgic condiment holders (and they’re less than $5!)

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To keep guests plates from being flimsy, I love using paper plate holders. I love how they’re kinda old school and seem to go with any theme as you can put any style/color paper plate inside. I found these cute floral paper plates with matching napkins and paper straws on Amazon!

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If you have a place to make a fire, make one! It’s fun to cozy around a fire and there is always room for a s’more!

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Be sure to stock up on citronella candles. As soon as the sun went down, we lit all the candles. One of the joys of farm life…mosquitoes!

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To give each couple a makeshift “end table” we turned old soda crates upside down, and topped them with farm fresh flowers and little lanterns for light.  The striped throws from Birch Lane were beyond cute adding a pop of pattern and color to the lawn.

If you don’t have soda crates, look around your house to see what could work. Do you have a basket that could be turned upside down? A tv tray? How about a stack of books? Be resourceful and use what you have!

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Any movie is great, but consider a fun classic with a great soundtrack.  One of my all-time favorite movies is Footloose.  Who doesn’t love Kevin Bacon in his plum colored prom tux ?!  I couldn’t believe how many of my friend’s hadn’t seen it!!  Even so, it didn’t stop them from a sporadic dance along to Willard’s sweet moves to Let’s Hear it for the Boy!  So, so fun.

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I say this after every party, but this one has now taken rank as my favorite party at the Keller Farmhouse.  I am so grateful for such an incredible group of friends we can share these fun memories with.  My husband is already calling it an annual affair…

Have you hosted an outdoor movie party? If so, do you have additional tips or recommendations for outdoor movie party success?

*A big huge giant thank you to Laura Marchbanks who captured every gorgeous detail of the night.  There is nothing more fun than reliving the party through the photos.   You are incredibly talented Laura!!

7 thoughts on “How To Throw an Outdoor Movie Party

  1. It all looks amazing! I just love how your husband goes along with all your party ideas 🙂
    Also, upon the recommendation of a neighbor- we have used the mosquito spray by Cutters (you just attach it to a hose and spray) this summer. It kept our infested backyard free of mosquitoes for over a week.

  2. I almost have no words for all of this. What do you with these parties is a DREAM! Just wow! I’m in the Seattle area, too, and would just die if I was invited to a party like this. WOW again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Hi Jenny, I love this party so much. I was wondering if you could tell me where you got the film reels from. Thanks! Cant wait to see what your birthday will be like this year!

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