Summer Nights, Part 1: The Ultimate Outdoor Movie Night

*This post includes affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission from purchases made through them. Thank you to Dillard’s for sponsoring this post; all Dillard’s items were gifted.*

Today is the first of a two-part series that I’m calling “Summer Nights.” These posts are all about taking advantage of that late sunset and hosting super-easy outdoor gatherings that require minimal effort. Who wants to work that hard right now? I don’t…summer should be all about fun!  

When Hugh and I did our IG Live at Dillard’s, I was blown away by their selection of outdoor furniture and accessories and got the idea to style a backyard movie night. I mean, what better than blue and white chinoiserie to set the scene for a chic evening under the stars? I love the idea of turning the backyard into a personal movie theater, complete with snacks and cocktails, of course! Read on for my tips and tricks for styling this fun, easy party that your family and friends are sure to love (full resource list at the end).

When it comes to setting the scene, you want to think about creating a little outdoor family room. That means cozy chairs, a place to set down your drink, and necessities within arm’s reach. One of the things I love about these chairs is that they recline – again, comfort is key! Whether you use your porch furniture or bring out the lawn chairs, just make sure you provide a relatively comfortable place for adults to sit through a full-length film (kids can sprawl out on the ground with blankets). Sunset is late here in Nashville, so consider setting up an umbrella or two to provide some shade while the sun is still out. Low, portable picnic tables are the perfect perch for snacks and beverages, and it’s definitely worth dragging out a bar cart so people don’t have to miss any of the movie going inside for refreshments.

Speaking of refreshments, the beauty of movie night is that you don’t have to provide dinner. Invite people over for an après-supper show and you’re golden. It’s such a fuss-free way to entertain and really takes the pressure off figuring out what to serve. (If you feel you MUST provide something more substantial, this is the perfect time for pizza delivery.) As for snacks, popcorn is obviously king. I always say keep it simple and stick to the classics, but make it look fabulous. So I turned my trusty bar cart into a full popcorn bar, complete with a popcorn machine and candy mix-ins. The genius of a popcorn machine is that you can pop a ton at once, meaning that you’re not jumping up and down during the movie to make more. As for serving, all that’s required is little bowls – these wooden ones are chic yet casual, and would look equally fabulous on a fall or winter table.

One quick note about the bar cart: as you’ve seen in many of my past setups, I use it for EVERYTHING! Remember this year’s July 4th? The reason it’s lasted me so long and still looks great is because I protect the surface whenever I use it for something messy like a self-serve station. A paper table runner is perfect – just cut it to fit. I’d also do this to protect my kitchen counters if you opt for an indoor movie night. As for beverages, what else would I serve but Ranch Waters??? This cocktail is made for long summer nights and requires just 3 ingredients (Topo Chico, tequila, lime juice) – perfection. Load up a cooler with waters and maybe a few beers and soft drinks, but keep it easy and don’t feel that you need to offer a full bar. Of course, for serving cocktails outside, only use plastic glassware. These acrylic margarita glasses are ideal; John Albert agrees :-).

To create our movie setup, it was surprisingly easy to find, buy, and “assemble” an inflatable screen (most of these need to be plugged in, so keep that in mind when you’re deciding where to position it). Use a projector to play your movie; this is the one we have. Yes, our screen ended up a little lopsided (it was our first time trying it out), but things can’t always be perfect, y’all! Check out screen options here, here, and here.

This was such a darling party to organize, and I really think it’s the perfect way to spend a July/August evening. You only have to provide simple snacks and drinks, it’s super casual, and no one messes up the inside of your house! BUT everyone will have a great time and walk away thinking that you’re the QUEEN of summer style – this is a truly unique activity. Cheers to the silver screen, y’all, and stay tuned for Summer Nights, Part 2 coming in hot next week!

Resource Links: (all Dillard’s items were gifted)

*All photos courtesy of Lele Fain Photography*

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: