This post contains affiliate links.
I can’t encourage you enough to start a family movie night. It’s much more than a chance to watch a movie and eat popcorn. It’s a way to come together, connect at the end of the week, and it’s a perfect creative outlet for you as a mom. (Find napkins here, sign here)
We started our movie nights many years ago and they quickly became a family favorite. Early in the week the kids start asking, “What’s our movie night this week?” Sometimes I tell them; sometimes I let them be surprised when they get home from school on Friday afternoon. They’ll run in to look at how the table is set up. That’s my favorite way to reveal the movie. I’m not exaggerating when I say they usually squeal with delight!
Although watching a movie as a family to start the weekend isn’t some sort of groundbreaking idea, I want to share the details how we do this because it’s been so fun. If you don’t have a similar activity in your household, I’d encourage you to start.
Step one: Pick a night a start planning
Maybe it’s Friday night, maybe it’s Saturday afternoon, maybe it’s every third Tuesday. If you’re looking to do something consistently I suggest scheduling it in. I usually look ahead at the start of the month and plan movie nights for all available Fridays. Sometimes we have other plans or things come up, but if at all possible we do our best to “protect” our Friday evenings. I find that if we don’t do this, our potential movie nights can give way to other things. So if friends want to get together, we aim for Saturday if possible. We also keep movie night to just our family of four. It’s our time, and in the middle of a busy week it’s nice to know we will connect on movie night.
Step two: Pick a movie
You can re-watch a family favorite or order a newly-released movie on demand. I always keep a running list of family-friendly movies, adding to it when friends offer suggestions. Pluggedin.com is a great resource to make sure the content is safe for your family. IMDB.com also offers parental guides. We sometimes use VidAngel to stream movies and filter out certain content. (Groundhog Day is a great example of how that service works.) Many times family movies (even super old ones) will have previews that can spark your next movie night. Some of our favorites are Ramona and Beezus, all the Disneynature films like this one, and movies like Alex & Me and Paddington 2. Although we do enjoy a trip to the movie theater, most of our movies are at home on Friday nights. It saves money and we get to be as relaxed as we want.
Step three: Get creative
Not only is it predictable, protected family time for us, movie night is a great creative outlet for me as a mom. While I’m shopping for groceries, for instance, I’ll spot a cute snack or dessert that goes with our theme. Or when I’m parked and waiting in the carpool line I’ll search Pinterest for ideas related to our movie. It just adds a mini project for the week that allows me to have some fun and get a smile out of my family. It's also my speed. While I’m not the type to make 25 individually hand-crafted desserts for a birthday party, for example, I’m totally game to make four of just about anything!
Our movie night dinners are usually a splurge for us… both in cost and calories. This is the night we’re more likely to grill steaks, have dessert, or spend extra time prepping something unique. I often create a meal that somehow coincides with our movie. For instance, we grilled up middle-eastern food for Aladdin. It is a great excuse to try something new.
That said, some weeks are just too hectic to pull off much more than ordering pizza and asking the kids to pick a DVD they can agree on.
I highly recommend planning and crafting to the level that your schedule and sanity allow. The goal is to make the evening a little (or a lot) out of the ordinary. A simple pack of cute paper napkins is an easy, affordable way to create your theme.
I know that if I'm stressing about it, I'm going about it the wrong way. Way back when we first started movie night and my kids were really little, I was prepping for the original Cinderella. I remember asking everyone to “leave me alone!” while I tried to make little mice out of cheese. I quickly realized I’d missed the point. Have fun with it, that's the whole idea! A little creativity goes a long way and perfection is not the goal. Plus, spending time together is the most important part.
I’ll post movie nights here on the blog most Fridays. So pop some popcorn, put on your jammies, and get ready for some fun with your fam!