Why spend a ton of money at the movie theater when you can have an at-home movie night that’s just as fun and doesn’t break the bank? Plan the ultimate family movie night at home with these great tips and tricks!
Guest post from Ivana of Find Your Mom Tribe:
Before my husband and I received the coveted titles of Mom and Dad, a weekly night at the movies was our thing. We’d get tickets to the blockbuster of the week, eat overpriced snacks (or sometimes sneak a Reese’s cup in here and there), and have a fab time.
After our kids arrived, however, we had to get very creative with our movie night ideas. At first when they were babies, watching a full movie in one sitting seemed like a relic of a time gone by.
But now that they are older, we have lots of fun watching different movies as a family – mostly at home, though, since frequent trips to the movie theater as a family of four would definitely break our budget!
Besides, with so many streaming services available, it’s easy to plan a fun family movie night at home. (And if your kids start crying — or worse, fighting — you won’t have to deal with the glares of the entire movie theater).
How to Have the Ultimate Family Movie Night at Home
Over the past few years, we have really improved our family movie night game and I would love to share some ideas with you! And maybe they’ll become a family ritual in your household as well.
1. Make a concession stand.
Snacks are key for any movie-watching experience! You can always just get some popcorn, a couple of packs of M&Ms, some soft drinks, and call it a day.
But what we do to make it really fun is turn our kitchen into a concession stand! It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune either. I just use some colorful cardboard paper and a Sharpie to make a sign. Bonus points if you have some glitter glue to really kick things up a notch!
Years ago, I bought a few reusable popcorn tubs at the Dollar Store and they’re perfect for this sort of occasion, as they really make the kids feel like they’re at the movie theater.
My husband usually takes charge of running our DIY concession stand and we give the kids Monopoly money to “pay” for their snacks and drinks. (Don’t worry, we’re not as bad with the prices, although you could argue it would be a valuable life lesson!)
As we’re still trying to keep our kids from eating too much sugar, we try and only “sell” healthy snacks and drinks to our kids. The funny thing is, I think we could serve them broccoli like this and they would still eat it since they love role-playing so much.
It’s also important to set some ground rules so that you’re not getting up every 10 minutes to get something from the kitchen once the movie starts.
In our house, we usually take a break when the movie is halfway through so that everyone can get refills and run to the bathroom. Ten minutes is typically more than enough time for the whole family to take a break and gather back in the living room to watch the second half of the movie.
2. Design your own movie tickets.
Since the whole point of organizing a family movie night is to create fond memories for our kids to look back on, I also like to create “movie tickets” to give to the kids that they can hold onto as a keepsake.
Again, it doesn’t have to be anything too fancy – you can draw them by hand and color them with your kids as a fun activity.
But if you would like to go all out (and have a bit of experience using design tools or don’t mind learning), you can use computer software to design and print the tickets.
Personally, I love using Pixlr because it’s free, online (no need to download and install anything), and great for beginners!
With a bit of trial and error, you will get the hang of it pretty quickly and your kids will have really cool tickets to remind them of some great family moments.
If you’re short on time and can’t design your own, you can Google and find some free movie ticket printables to use.
3. Transform your living room.
One of my favorite movie night ideas is to give your living room a fun (but still reversible!) makeover to make the night even more memorable. We usually blow up our air mattresses, place them on the floor, and cover them either with old blankets or bed sheets.
In any case, I try and avoid the couch for one reason only – our kids are still quite clumsy and if they end up spilling their drink, it’s not as big of a deal. Plus, it’s much easier to get rid of any runaway popcorn or chips!
We also like to get all of the cushions out and arrange them on the mattresses so that everyone can lean back and get a comfy seat.
Or you can make a giant blanket fort for extra coziness! Just get the chairs out of the kitchen, drape them with all the blankets you can find and you’re good to go!
As a finishing touch, it’s nice to hang some inexpensive string lights to create a cozy atmosphere.
4. Take it outdoors.
With summer right around the corner, one of the best at-home movie night ideas is to take it outside, although you might need a couple of extra gadgets for an outdoor movie night, such as a projector.
The good news is that these types of movie projectors are pretty affordable these days and you can use them indoors as well, so it’s good value for money.
This is also a perfect opportunity to invite the neighborhood kids over! Just make sure to tell everyone to bring a foldable garden chair or sleeping bag with them unless you want to spend days removing grass stains out of blankets.
5. Go offline.
When I say “go offline”, I don’t mean canceling your Netflix subscription and digging up old DVDs and VHS tapes.
Instead, grown-ups should put their phones on silent mode at the very least, although my husband and I make a point of turning the WiFi off on our phones during family movie nights.
Whatever work-related text pops up during those two hours can definitely wait, and all kids deserve to have time with their parents being fully present for the family fun!
What Movies to Watch
My husband and I often use the family movie night as an excuse to rewatch all the movies we liked when we were growing up. But our kids end up loving them just the same most of the time, so I don’t feel like we’re in the wrong here!
Of course, we always make room for the kids. I can’t count the number of times we watched Cars and Frozen (I know that my daughter wore her Elsa costume for at least 50 percent of those viewings) and luckily there is no shortage of good kids’ movies coming out on a yearly basis.
When it comes to movie night ideas with kids, you just can’t go wrong with an animated Disney movie or a beloved kids’ classic.
Here are some of our personal faves:
- Ratatouille – I could watch this story of Remy, a rat who dreams of working as a chef, any day, anytime;
- Moana – My seven-year-old daughter loves this one and knows all the words to “How Far I’ll Go”;
- The Lego Movie – If you haven’t watched this one yet, do yourself a favor and do it ASAP! It’s genuinely hilarious for all ages and I guarantee you’ll have the “Everything Is Awesome” theme song stuck in your head for days;
- Toy Story 3 – Any movie in this franchise is gold in my opinion, but the third installment in this series gets the most rotation in our household which is why I picked it over the others;
- Wall-E – Way more than just a kids’ movie, Wall-E does an amazing job at teaching little ones about the importance of protecting our environment;
- Harry Potter – This is a classic that we haven’t introduced to our kids for one simple reason – they’re still a bit too young, but we’re definitely counting down the days until they get to watch it for the first time!
- Shrek – Any movie with a talking donkey in it is an Oscar-worthy movie if you ask us. On a serious note, though, Shrek belongs to a category of kids’ movies that even grown-ups will fully enjoy!
- Finding Nemo – Who knew fish could be so funny and heartwarming at the same time? Apart from being a classic, it was my son’s favorite for the longest time, so I couldn’t leave it out.
A family movie night at home is guaranteed fun for your kids, even when you’re on a budget. Plus, it creates a kind of warm, family atmosphere that makes for wonderful memories later on in life!
Whether you decide to go all out or keep it simple with some snacks and comfy pajama pants, there’s always a way to incorporate fun movie night ideas into your family tradition – and it’s never too late to start!
Ivana Davies is an educator turned stay-at-home mom. She’s a proud mom of a beautiful 7 year old girl and a playful 5 year old boy. Since she didn’t have a clue about raising kids, she had to learn it all in a hard way. Ivana managed to find so much information online and it inspired her to turn to blogging to share her experiences and struggles as a mom. Her blog, Find Your Mom Tribe, is here to help you connect with other moms, as well as to share mom hacks, information, and tools to help you on this parenting journey.