Make Your Own Movie Night

Warm summer evenings practically beg for an outdoor movie night. Take matters into your own hands and host one yourself—our step-by-step guide proves that it can be a lot easier than you might think.

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When is a movie night ever a bad idea? And when the nights are as perfect as they are in the summertime, we're particularly partial to outdoor screenings. Summer movies in parks and on rooftops are a beloved tradition pretty much everywhere, but the problem is that the entire city tends to show up for them.

This year, we've decided to opt out of elbowing our way through the crowds to claim a tiny patch of grass. With a little planning, throwing an outdoor movie night can be fairly easy—and a lot more fun, we promise! (Really, the hardest part will be deciding which movie to project.)

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Here, find everything you'll need to host your own outdoor screening, from the latest mobile projectors to cushy bean bags that will keep everyone comfortable.

Step 1: Pick Your Projector

Smartphone Projector by Luckies of London, $40, nestdallas.com.
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Don't want to spend all your cash on a fancy projector? This cardboard cinema in a box uses a strong magnifying lens to project straight from your phone.

Beam, $553, beamlabsinc.com.

Beam looks more like a flashlight than a state-of-the-art projector, but the computer inside of it, which boasts 8GB of storage, plus its Bluetooth compatibility and high-quality stereo speakers, prove that it's a very capable host for whatever you decide to screen.

Lenovo Pocket Projector, $250, shop.lenovo.com.
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The crisp picture on Lenovo's mobile projector will blow you away—its quality outshines anything else of its size. The display can reach up to 110 inches, the high-contrast images are auto-corrected to avoid distortion, and video files can be easily transferred via a USB cable.

PicoPro, $399, urbanoutfitters.com.

This slim HD projector streams content right from your phone. And the rechargeable battery, which lasts between two and three hours, is one of the best on the market.

Portable Ultra-Short Throw Projector by Sony, $999, momastore.org.
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What makes this sleek and compact model so special is the additional wireless unit, which can pull content from an assortment of devices including PCs, Blu-ray players, or cable boxes via an HDMI cable. The crisp images are a result of laser light bouncing off the thin layer of liquid crystal that sits on top of the reflective glass.

Carl's FlexiGray Projector Screen Material, $15 per foot, carlofet.com.
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While a white bedsheet or blank wall are great in a pinch, this premium matte screen delivers a brighter image from all angles. Carl's Place does, in fact, live up to its promise as the go-to "DIY projector screen headquarters." Thanks, Carl!

Portable Movie Projection Screen, $298, campchef.com.

Want to prove how serious you are about securing your place in outdoor movie-night history? Invest in all 120 inches of this freestanding screen.

Step 2: Cozy Up Your Outdoor Theater

Meadow Mat-Desert Ace Stripe, $39, old.alitedesigns.com.
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Once you've got all the technical things sorted out, you'll need a durable blanket to relax on. This one from Alite is waterproof and easy to wash—but really the fun design is what caught our attention.

Stormy Mountain Pouf, $287, finelittleday.com.

Remember a few weeks ago when we decided we loved adult bean bags? Now we're dragging them outside for movie night.

Slant Side Chair, $135, industrywest.com.

If you're still looking for the perfect outdoor furniture—for movie night or otherwise—we suggest checking out these stackable aluminum chairs, which are nice-looking enough to double as indoor chairs, too.

Throw Cushion to the Wind Pillow, $30, modcloth.com.
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Our favorite low-maintenance way to sort out seating? Grab a bunch of throw pillows for everyone to get comfy on.

Step 3: Don't Forget to Stock Your Concession Stand

It's a Picnic, $87, mouth.com.
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You've spent a lot of energy setting up your outdoor theater, artisanal snack packs will make your food situation effortless. This bag has all your outdoor provisions covered: cheese, salami, crackers, jam, popcorn, cookies—even shatterproof cups!

The Home Mixologist, $80, farmtopeople.com.

There's no sense shaking up cocktails for everyone, but if you want to stock an outdoor bar, this set of shrubs and simple syrups makes for inventive drinks without the fuss.

But First, Cocktails, $65, sugarfina.com.

Want to skip serving drinks all together? This bento box comes with eight different cocktail-flavored candies, including Jamaican rum snowballs, blood-orange negronis, peach bellinis, and kir royale cordials.

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