Perfect Backyard Movie Night Birthday Ideas

With the weather outside as hot as it’s been this year, we decided to host an outdoor backyard movie night for the girls’ birthday party. That way we could beat the heat and instead enjoy the warm summer evening.

The girls decided to show the Peanuts movie and I thought I’d give a vintage look to all the decorations. The decorations matched the movie beautifully and we had a wonderful time.

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Movie Night Ticket Invitations

We sent out giant vintage style movie ticket invitations to the delight of all the girls’ friends. Also included with the invitation is a standard sized replica ticket that your little doorman can collect on the day of the party. Here’s a link to the ticket template. I think you’ll just love it.

Movie Night Decorations

I really had a blast with these decorations.

As the guests arrived, the girls were greeted with our handy-dandy lightbox showing them the way to all the festivities in the backyard.

This is what they saw in the backyard.

I decorated the dessert table with a lit “movie night” marquee and a concessions banner. I made a quick PVC frame and hung two red curtains that I usually use at Christmas time, then attached a black cloth to the back with safety pins. The marquee looked fantastic at night with the little twinkly lights. Even my husband thought it was adorable.

I posted the instructions on how to make the movie night marquee sign. It also includes the frustratingly dumb mistake I made in the hopes that you don’t recreate it. The letters for the marquee are part of the movie night printable bundle.

The table held the birthday popcorn cupcakes, Red Vines, chocolates, cookies, and all the favor boxes for the girls.

The second concessions table had more treats, the popcorn, and my not so secret, super popular fruity punch. We borrowed the popcorn machine from church and stuck a “fresh buttered popcorn – self-serve“ sign to it. All the popcorn boxes were printed and assembled at home so I didn’t have to buy a huge box of 100 for just 20 girls. All of the paper decorations came from my new movie night printable set so they all fit the theme perfectly.

I love tassels, I think they’re so festive, so I added them to one of the tables. Find out how to make them for pennies in my tassel DIY post.

I also used some decorations I found at Hobby Lobby like the popcorn sign, and the movie reel. The homemade popcorn box pinata turned out so awesome that I used it as decoration until we broke it into pieces.

Outdoor Movie Theater Equipment

We live in SoCal where a lot of people are in the movie industry and we were fortunate to have a friend who had the whole outdoor movie set up that he could loan to us.

But I did a little digging and found that you can buy it as a kit on Amazon. Or buy the projector, Blue Ray player, speakers, and screen separately. Which would be good if you already had some of the pieces. A lot of people seem to like this reasonable priced Viewsonic projector and I even found an inflatable movie screen. Our projector and Blue Ray player sat on a top of a step ladder to give it the height it needed.

Games for a Movie Night

The girls and I decided to start the party with a movie game icebreaker. I wrote several movie titles on a sheet of labels, and as the guests entered, I stuck one of the movie titles on to their back. The idea was that each girl asks yes or no questions of the other girls to figure out the movie title stuck to her back. You could only ask one question per girl so they had to go around and meet everyone. Not all the girls knew each other and we wanted to encourage fun interaction and this game worked great.

Before the sun went down, we took lots of silly pictures at the photo booth, using the myriad of props I had designed and collected.

The photo booth is a simple PVC frame on which I hung a white curtain, gold fringes and a red plastic tablecloth for the red curtains on the edges. We learned a little bit about the strength of various sizes of PVC with this party too. We made one frame with 1/2 inch PVC. It worked, but it was wobbly and it sagged and generally fought with us the entire time. We made the second frame with 1 inch PVC and it was much more rigid and rugged and much less inclined to need frantic reassembly five minutes before the party.

The popcorn box pinata was homemade and this time we were smart and didn’t wait until the night before to start to build it. It had just the perfect amount of strength. It lasted until all the girls had had a turn to clobber it, but just barely. Considering the trouble we had last year with the nearly indestructible disaster of a pinata we were much happier with this one. I have all the instructions in another post. My husband is beginning to think that maybe he could have a career as a pinata maker, an official pinatero.

Movie Party Treats

We, of course, served plenty of fresh popcorn. Figuring out how to use the popcorn machine without instructions was a bit of a challenge but after making a spectacular, oily mess my husband and I finally got the hang of it. Those machines are difficult to clean though.

And here’s the point where I look conspiratorially from side to side and offer you my super secret, never before been revealed, positively amazing party punch recipe. SHHHH…It’s a combination of two bottles of Canada Dry, a bottle of a good fruit juice punch (NOT the cheap sugary watered down kind), and a quart of vanilla ice cream. That’s it. It’s delicious and the kids rushed to it and immediately drank up a whole bowl.

I decided to serve the punch in cups with a lid and a straw, which was a lifesaver for all the blankets and pillows we had on the ground when the girls watched the movie. There would have been a lot more spills and a bunch of sticky legs and backsides without them.

We also served good old American hot dogs in rectangular cardboard concession boxes with red and white checkerboard liners, both of which I found on Amazon.

We made the popcorn cupcakes and didn’t even bother with a regular cake this time. If you’ve followed me for any length of time you know how much I love the convenience and portability of cupcakes. Cupcakes and cakes made of cupcakes are also a whole lot easier to make than a specialty cake. You can read all about the popcorn cupcakes in another post.

Movie Night Craft

A girl’s birthday party doesn’t seem like a party without a craft. At least that’s what my girls cried after I had the audacity to suggest that maybe this year we could skip a craft.

I thought long and hard about a good craft for a movie party.

I wanted something simple and useful. So since I had used hair tie favors before from the awesome Plum Polka Dot store for my unicorn party, I decided that this time I would just buy a bunch of elastic ribbons and have the girls cut and tie them themselves.

The girls each wrote their names in silver Sharpie on a black piece of card stock then cut a roughly 9″ length of UNSTRETCHED elastic band and tied them off. Each girl went home with 3 or 4 brand new, handmade hair ties.


Movie Night Party Favors

I had so much fun putting the favors together! I used the vintage style printable popcorn boxes from my movie night set and typed each girl’s name on them. Each box contained glow sticks, a box of Cracker Jacks, a bag of M&M’s, individually wrapped Red Vines, a microwavable popcorn bag and a lollipop. Tied together with clear cellophane, a pretty red ribbon and a thank you tag, they looked pretty impressive.

The air was warm and the night was amazing. The movie was funny and everyone enjoyed it. Another successful birthday party in the bag. And like we say every year, this birthday was the best one ever.

Don’t forget to check out all the other movie night posts:

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19 thoughts on “Perfect Backyard Movie Night Birthday Ideas

  1. Annette Legudi says:

    What fantastic party ideas.
    Will you do one with a Christmas theme if you haven’t already
    Thank you.

  2. Bri Adams says:

    I love how you designed everything for this party! The printable package is amazing and has so many cool things. The cupcake and piñata are so fun as well! I’m looking forward to reading the piñata post so I can learn from your mistakes! : ) I had so much fun making mine that I think it’ll be an annual event. What a perfect theme.

  3. Beth says:

    Gosh, I wish my girls were kids again! This is fabulous, especially for a neighborhood party to celebrate the end of summer vacation! Fabulous post!

  4. Susan says:

    Oh my gosh! This party is amazing!!! I wish my boys were bigger so I could have a movie night backyard party ! This is definitely on my party bucket list for themes.

  5. Lori says:

    Oh my gosh my friend, this is AMAZING!! What a fabulous night with such festive decorations! I adore the invitations, toppers, and that pinata! So incredible! You’re so talented and it’s really fun to see that creativity come to life!!

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