The Great Outdoors: Turn your garden in to a cinema
Property programmes are forever pointing out the potential to use a garden as an extra living space, but in the UK we rarely get an opportunity to do so with our mostly temperamental climate. But haven't we lucked out this summer? Never before have we been so certain that the sun will continue to shine and that we can plan BBQs and outdoor play dates without so much as a thought to a contingency plan. It's been wonderful, hasn't it?
Having spent many amazing evenings at outdoor cinemas over the years, I, Rachel, decided to take advantage of this real, actual summer we've been having to recreate something similar in our garden (please let this not mean the end of the good weather). With several successful films nights under our belts, I thought I'd share my top tips for turning your garden or back yard in to your very own movie theatre under the stars.
We're using a little courtyard that our house wraps around but really, providing you've got room for a 2 to 3 metre gap between the screen and the first row of seats, you could use any outdoor space. Garden, yard, driveway ... anywhere that's at least semi-private would work.
The bare minimum that you need is a projector, a screen and speakers, although you could possibly use a laptop for the sound if there's only a couple of you. I have this Epson projector and can recommend it but you can find many cheaper and a fair few way more expensive depending on how much you want to spend and how high tech you want to go. This is the screen you can see in the photos clipped to our shed. It folds away really neatly when not in use. Ones with stands are only a touch more expensive if that's what you'd prefer, though.
Even the most informal family film night can be made that little bit more special with personalised tickets. Canva has so many great (and free) templates that you can easily adapt and print off. It could be a fun project for an older child. And something quirky to send to guests to invite them along to join you.
Festoon or fairy lights. Or both, perhaps. Twinkly lights are so magical and perfect for when the sun truly goes down in order to bathe your outdoor cinema in a lovely warm glow. You don't want the darkness to scare any younger guests, after all. A torch or two is also handy for anyone wanting to make their way indoors during the film.
We use, and love, GLTC's outdoor bean bags. They're super comfy - for adults as well as children - with the added bonus of being water and UV resistant. Choose from aqua, green or pink, or maybe one of each. Once cinema season is over, they can be used indoors, too.
The favourites for a film night have to be popcorn and penny sweets. My two boys are far too gluttonous to be trusted to take no more than a small handful from communal bowls so I tend to decant a share in to boxes and paper bags for them. I also recommend using cups with lids to keep drinks contained during any moving around/scrambling mid film.
If you fancy having an intermission but don't want to risk ice creams and lollies dripping everywhere in the darkness, how about cute cookies in the shape of children's favourites? Biscuiteers have a really fun selection.
It quickly turns cool once the sun has set so blankets are a must. If you don't want to use your favourites outdoors, GLTC picnic blankets are ideal. Children can wrap themselves up in the soft cotton side and rest their drinks and sweets on the water-resistant backing.
Finally, you need to choose your film. Our favourites so far have been The Greatest Showman and Moana. Paddington 2 is next on our list and we're thinking of having a Top Gun and Dirty Dancing blast-from-the-past night for just the grown ups. What would you show first at your outdoor cinema night?
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