How to Throw a Backyard Movie Date Night

outdoor movies

From vintage drive-in theaters to modern stadium-seating cinemas, couples have maintained a long-standing love affair with movie date nights. Amp up “reel” fun with a backyard movie night date! Here’s what you need for a DIY production…


Wall: You can project a video image onto any light-colored flat surface, like the side of your house or the garage door.

Household Linens: Go low-tech (aka cheap) simply using a white bed sheet. Fasten the top of the sheet to a clothing line and anchor the bottom with rocks or stakes. Or, build your own screen stand with two-by-four planks and two rock-filled buckets as stands; then, secure the sheet to the wood with a staple gun.

Black-Out Cloth: For just $9 a yard, you can greatly improve picture quality (vs. a bed sheet) by creating a screen out of black-out fabric from your local craft store.

Inflatable Screen: If you plan to make backyard movie night a standing date night, invest in an affordable inflatable screen. Just plug in for fast set-up and breakdown. Or rent an outdoor screen from a company like Fun Flicks.

Self-Standing Screen: Forgo DIY assembly by opting for an outdoor self-standing projection screen. Simply pop up and you’re ready for opening credits.

movie date night
Photo credit: The Garden Glove


Television: Consider re-positioning your television from the living room onto the outdoor patio! No need for added screens, projectors or speakers with this easy fix.

Portable Projector: For less than $100, you can buy a portable projector that is compatible with your laptop, tablet, DVD player and smartphone.

Phone Projector: Dial into movie night with your film buff using your mobile! This portable device fits most smartphones without electricity to amplify videos onto a flat viewing surface.

Rentals: You may be able to rent a projector from your local library or school.

movie date night
Photo credit: Uncommon Goods

Miscellaneous Equipment

Don’t forget portable speakers, an extension cord and, depending on selected equipment, either a folding chair or table to place the projector on. And, don’t forget bug spray or citronella candles.


Cozy up on a picnic blanket, blow-up mattress, sleeping bags, tailgate chairs, patio furniture or bean bag chairs.


How private is your backyard? While you might want an adults-only movie night with your date, consider the film’s rating if neighbors might be able to get a glimpse of the show. You don’t want the neighboring children to see a R-rated sex scene streaming in your backyard theater! Maybe opt for a PG-13 rom-com or action adventure.


Eat up movie night with upgraded popcorn snacks. Use a DIY popcorn box template, a gourmet kernel and seasoning set or try a flavored popcorn recipe. Stop by the store to pick up classic movie candy or order a complete assortment online. Stock an ice-filled cooler with water, soda and adult beverages.

movie date night
Photo credit: Orville Redenbacher’s and


The movie screen will emit light but you can add ambient mood lighting with camping lanterns, tiki torches, patio lights, candles and old school Christmas light strings.

A backyard movie night is also a great idea for double dates, a couple’s gathering or block parties. Check out for some more inspiration.

Feature image courtesy of The Garden Glove, a resource for creative gardening tips, ideas and DIY projects. 



Nancy DeVault is the managing editor of Date Night Guide and a contributor to publications such as Babble, AmeriDisability Services Magazine and Orlando Magazine. She enjoys outdoor adventures with her husband and toddler.


3 Responses to “How to Throw a Backyard Movie Date Night”

  1. Guy

    Definitely can be a romantic way to spend some time together. Switching it up from the couch goes a long way.


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