Not only is an at-home movie night with the entire family a great bonding time, it is also a relatively inexpensive way to entertain the family. The price of a night out at the movies can easily run a family $50 or $60, and the evening is over in a few hours. Switching the venue to your very own living room can save quite a bit of money. With a little imagination and creativity, the fun can last all night long. Here are some suggestions on themes and activities to make your at-home movie night a real evening to remember.
Expose your Children to the Greats. Introduce your children to some of your favorite classic films, while enjoying them again yourself. Bring the magic of Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, Natalie Wood and Clark Gable into your living room. Teenagers will surely love “Rebel Without a Cause” and “Gone With The Wind,” while younger children may prefer movies they are more familiar with such as the black and white version of “Cheaper by the Dozen” and the original “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” A few enlarged pictures of the stars of the movie can be displayed in your viewing area. Choose your film for the evening a few days in advance and spend some time writing questions about the plot, characters and pivotal scenes on colored card stock or index cards. After the final credits have rolled, have a friendly competition to see who retained the most facts about the movie. A coupon for a special trip to a favorite store or an extra hour of video games can be given as a prize. My oldest daughter shares my love for classic movies and often requests a Bette Davis or Joan Crawford film to watch together when enjoying movie night at home.
Sing along with a Musical. The Musical genre of movies is a fantastic choice for movie night at home with the kids. Children respond to music from a very young age and often count musicals as their first favorite type of movie. Sit down together to watch “Grease” or “The Sound of Music.” Older Musicals that your family may enjoy are “West Side Story” and “Meet Me in St. Louis.” Use black construction paper to cut out shapes of musical notes and affix them to the furniture and curtains of the room where you will be watching the movie. Scatter a few on the coffee table. Cuddle up together and snack on some goodies such as popcorn or chocolate chip cookies while enjoying the flick. After the movie is over, see if you and your family can recreate one or two of the famous songs from the movie using the musical instruments you have on hand, or by using ordinary household items such as pots, bowls and wooden utensils. Your kids will surely fall over in hysterics as their parents try to beat out the rhythm of “Grease Lightning” on a cutting board with a spatula or metal spoon.
Celebrate the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. It doesn’t need to be November or December to enjoy a night of holiday movies with the family. Bust out the Christmas lights, hang a wreath on the door and sit a Santa decoration on your coffee table. Enjoy a traditional holiday dessert such as pumpkin pie while watching “A Christmas Carol” or “Miracle on 34th Street.” Begin the festivities with baking and decorating Christmas cookies. My girls both loved when I would have Holiday Movie Night in the middle of July or August. It was a nice break from the summer heat and reminded them of the time of year they love best.
Thrill your Family with a Disaster Film. Many older children and adults love a good Disaster flick. Whether you choose classic Disaster films such as “Towering Inferno” or “Airport 77” or a more popular movie like “Titanic,” choosing this theme for your at-home movie night will surely please many movie lovers of all ages. Light plenty of candles to represent fire if that is the element being fought in the film, or set up an indoor fountain if water is the natural protagonist in the film. Model airplanes can be scattered throughout the room if a plane is featured prominently in the plot. Snack on healthy fare such as fruit slices and raw vegetables while enjoying the film. Encourage family members to share their thoughts and ideas on how they would handle the situation if ever faced themselves with the immense challenges faced in the film.
Share a Few Laughs with Classic Comedies. There is no greater way to bond with the family than by sharing some belly laughs. Visit the novelty store in your area to purchase some great gag gifts such as chattering teeth, hand buzzers and other items that are just silly and fun for people of all ages. Place them all over the room to create an atmosphere that is very lighthearted and a little bit goofy. Serve the family some movie theater style boxes of candy and dim the lights to watch a film featuring Abbott and Costello or The Three Stooges. The younger kids will love the good clean fun of these classic comedy films while teenagers may prefer the wit of the “Vacation” series of films or a Jim Carey selection. Engage everyone in the film by encouraging the kids and adults to call out the funny lines they remember from the movie or by adding their own suggestions to how they would make the plot even funnier. Both of my girls are real hams and love to add their two cents when watching comedies with us. They enjoy sharing their individual senses of humor with the family and always enjoy sharing what they would have added to the movie to make it even more hilarious.
Choose to stay in this weekend and share a night of movies and togetherness with the family. A few dollars and a few minutes of planning can create a wonderful evening that just may become a new family tradition.