Wayne's Weekend: Movies In The Park

Get tips and ideas for enjoying and outdoor movie night with family and friends

Now that summer is here, it's time for Movies In The Park.  More and more organizations are sponsoring outdoor movie nights and the evenings are a fun and inexpensive way to spend time under the stars with family and friends.  To make the experience as enjoyable as possible, I've put together a little checklist of ideas, tips and suggestions.  With a little advanced planning, you can be comfortable, well fed and even dry if mother nature decides to rain on your feature film.

The Basics

This is my list of the basics to have on hand.  You want to be comfortable in the park and these items are all easy and portable.  Some of the unique items, like lawn drink holders, can be found at housewares or specialty stores and I've listed where I purchased them at the end of this article.

  • Quilt or Blanket - The grass might be damp or dry areas might be dusty
  • Plastic Ground Cover - A painter's plastic drop cloth under your quilt keeps it clean
  • Umbrella - If you're bringing an umbrella, set up near the side of the crowd so you don't block anyone's view, but it's useful if there's a light mist and you want to stay and enjoy the movie
  • Plastic Trash Bags - Clean up after yourselves
  • Ravinia Table - Totally portable, disassembles and fits in a tote bag
  • Flashlight - For finding things you've dropped on the ground after the movie's over
  • Tote Bag - Oversized tote bags will just make it easy to get everything there easily
  • Folding Chairs or Beach Chairs - portable, easy to pack and carry
  • Lawn Drink Holders - These have spikes on the bottom so they hold your drink with no fear of tipping over
  • Butane Burner - great for making S'mores
  • Plastic Cups, Platters and Bowls - Avoid bringing glass to the park
  • Food Net - Keep food away from the bugs
  • Bug Repellant - Because bugs seem to like Movies In The Park, too
  • Paper Towels - Rather than napkins, just have a roll of paper towels
  • Moist Towelettes - Kids and adults are messy

The Food

Here are some easy food suggestions. This isn't a night out at Ravinia where you might get a little fancy.  It's a casual night in the park and, for the most part, it's fun to have the type of snacks that you might enjoy at a movie theater.

  • Ice Chest - For ice and beverages.  If you can get one with wheels it makes the trip to the park easier
  • Bottled Water - For both drinking and easy clean up
  • Battery Powered Blender - Nice little extra for making smoothies, but be sure not to use it during the movie because of the sound
  • Popcorn - A movie staple, pop a few bags and keep them in airtight containers to maintain freshness
  • Theater Style Candy - Nice way to recreate create the true movie experience
  • Thermos For Hot Dogs - Boil your hotdogs at home and then put fresh hot water and the dogs in a wide mouth thermos.
  • Hotdog Buns and Condiments
  • S'mores - Chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers (if you bring along the butane burner)
  • Fresh Fruit - An easy snack: apples, grapes, bananas, etc. 
  • Chips/Salsa - Another easy snack to enjoy


  • Plastic Drop Cloth - can be purchased in any home center paint department
  • Beach Chairs - beach chairs fold down and fit in a tote bag and are available at home center stores, drug stores and sporting good stores
  • Lawn Drink Holders and Ravinia Table - purchased at Crate & Barrel
  • Battery Powered Blender - The Margaritaville Frozen Drink Machine - available online
  • Butane Burner - Northwestern Cutlery
  • Plastic Bowls and Serving Plates - Walgreens

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

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