Our Favorite Summer Pastime :: Movie Under the Stars


When we moved into our first home, it was one of my dreams to watch movies outside. I loved the drive-in growing up and the nostalgia that came with a nice summer breeze and watching a favorite flick under the stars.  At the time, we had two kiddos with summer birthdays, so the weather was optimal to entertain this little dream of mine.  So 7 years ago, we started a summer tradition that we all look forward to every year.

home drive in 2008
Our first “drive-way” movie 2008. That little girl in the front by the Dora couch is almost 9 now!

We prefer to keep our outdoor theater simple. Here are some easy tips that we follow to create our annual backyard (or front yard) theater.

We have always just used a laptop, computer speakers, extension cord, and a projector to watch our movies. The projector does not have to be high tech, we use the one my husband has at work.  It looks like an ancient dinosaur.  Some people project onto screens, we have always just used our garage door.  It works fabulously and I don’t have to worry about hanging it up or wind or tearing or anything like that, and it is big!

In the summer, we typically start our movies a little after 9.  The sun has set just enough that we can see the image on the “screen” and it doesn’t put the end time too late. I do recommend though, getting everything set up beforehand as it can be hard to navigate in the dark.

getting situated before dark
getting situated before dark

What’s a movie without popcorn? SAMs club has a box of 500 popcorn bags for $6! I fill them up with popcorn and have a BIG basket ready to go (and extra for refills). For our parties we also usually have little bottled waters, juice boxes, and sometimes movie candy. We have also done s’mores while outside…that can be sticky but really caps the summer night off! We usually invite neighbors, friends and family and make a great memory that the kids love! This is also a lot of fun if you have out of town guests visiting. We had our priests’ nieces and nephews over last summer and it was something different for them but also a nice break from the hustle and bustle and entertaining that often comes with house guests.

That’s the same little girl in the bottom right of the picture!

If your’re like us and just LOVE being outside, but you don’t have the options for a backyard theater, I highly recommend the Starlight Drive-In. We are very fortunate to have a drive-in in our city! It is definitely a fading industry, and that breaks my heart because it is so fun and affordable for the whole family, especially when it is a flat rate for a carload! (Big family for the win).

We frequent the drive-in a few times in the summer and we love meeting friends at the drive in and kids switching cars and adults sitting together and all the luxery that comes with open space versus a movie theater. I mean how fun is chatting with your girlfriend while your kiddos are tucked into the back of the van enjoying a movie?! It’s a win-win in my book! Get there early though if there is a large group as they don’t like spot saving. The Starlight has a  a concession stand, but you can also take your own food and drink which is nice and saves money.  We also like to go during the week because we never make it for the triple feature anyway and it is was less crowded. Be sure to take blankets and pillow and be ready to cuddle up and enjoy a double or triple feature for the price of one!

starlight screen starlight

Happy watching under the stars this summer!