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Friends making movie night in their backyard to show what to bring to an outdoor movie.

What To Bring To An Outdoor Movie For The Most Picture-Perfect Experience

You’ll need more than just blankets.

M_a_y_a/E+/Getty Images

Summertime is the prime time to watch some of your favorite movies under the stars. Whether you’re going to a drive-in with your partner or just setting up a screen and projector with your roomies in the backyard, it always helps to know what to bring to an outdoor movie in order to make the experience extra special. You could even prep your very own outdoor movie bag so you’re ready to go whenever an invite comes your way.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that it’s safe for anyone fully vaccinated to resume activities they did prior to the pandemic, you may still opt for an outdoor screening instead. Not only is it one of the safest activities for everyone involved, but it can also be one of the most Instagram-worthy. That is, if you’re able to put together the coziest setup.

With more and more outdoor screenings being announced, like Cinespia in Los Angeles and Rooftop Cinema Club in various locations, you’ll want to be prepped for when they announce a classic you love or movie you’ve always wanted to see. Of course, you’ll need the right blankets and snacks, but you’ll also want to remember a few of these other items that are sure to make the evening one of the dreamiest.

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Get A Tarp For Under Your Blankets

If you’ve ever been to an outdoor movie, you know your blankets can get a bit damp from sitting directly on the grass by the end of the film. To prevent a soggy bottom, you’ll want to make sure you have a tarp or plastic bottom layer to go under all your cozy blankets. Depending on how much picnic space you need, you can find a tarp at any hardware store that’s just the right size.

A Variety Of Outdoor Blankets

Stock up on some outdoor blankets you don’t mind getting a little dirty. Between the picnic you’ll be eating on it and those friends who forget to take off their shoes, you don’t want to bring blankets you’ll be worried about all night. Get a variety of sheets ($19, Target) and cozy throws ($30, Target) for when it gets cold. There are even some picnic blankets ($20, Target) that fold up for easy transport.

A Cooler For Your Snacks

If you’re going to picnic before the movie, you’ll want to get a good cooler for all your snacks. Something like YETI’s Roadie 24 Hard Cooler ($200, YETI) is perfect for on the go, but may be out of your price range. There’s also a colorful Igloo cooler ($40, Target) or retro chic Business & Pleasure cooler ($79, Business & Pleasure) that are more budget-friendly.

A Portable Radio For Drive-In Movies

At a drive-in movie, you’ll use your car radio for sound. However, you may want to save your car’s battery by using a portable radio instead. You can find some Bluetooth speakers that have AM/FM radio settings, like these cute retro speakers from Muzen ($120, Amazon). There are also these outdoor speakers ($40, Amazon) that are perfect for your next camping trip.

Don’t Forget A Trash Bag For Easy Clean Up

There are some things you might not remember, but are super important like trash bags. Be sure to bring at least one bag for whatever you have to throw away after your picnic. Some other handy things from your kitchen you’ll want to grab are paper towels or napkins and disposable plates or cups.

Pillows For Back Support

Sitting on the ground can be hard on your back if you don’t have the right support. For long movies, you’ll want to bring some outdoor pillows ($10, Target) or this inflatable backrest pillow ($16, Amazon). These inflatable loungers ($20, Amazon) can even be used as one big pillow for both you and your partner.

A Charcuterie Board For An Insta-Worthy Setup

If you’re going for a glamorous movie experience, bring along a charcuterie board ($29, Macy’s) for all your cheese, sliced meats, and crackers. You could even pack a mini folding table ($42, Amazon) and flameless candles ($14, Amazon) for the most romantic date night ever.

Wine Tumblers For Movie Sips

Some venues like Cinespia allow you to bring your own wine for your picnic before the film. If you and your crew plan on enjoying some rosé or refreshing wine spritzers, you’ll need some wine tumblers for traveling. Brümate has wine canteens ($35, Brümate) that’ll keep your wine the perfect temperature and come in different gorgeous colors. You can also find matching travel tumblers ($25, Brümate) with lids to prevent any spills.

Sunscreen To Protect Yourself From The Elements

The movie starts when the sun goes down. However, if you’re going to picnic before, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got some sunscreen to protect yourself. You could even bring along some hand fans ($7, Etsy) to keep you cool that fold up perfectly. If your area has mosquitos, you’ll want to bring some bug spray as well.

Lawn Chairs If The Venue Allows Them

Different venues have different rules when it comes to lawn chairs. They either need to be under a certain height or require you to sit in a different area. If you plan on bringing a chair, make sure to check the rules first. Something like this beach chair ($12, Target) may just be short enough, or you could get something like a stadium seat ($22, REI) that sits on the ground.

Every outdoor movie experience is different, but starting with these basics will make sure your evening goes off without a hitch. Don’t forget a variety of savory and sweet snacks like popcorn and movie theater candy, and your camera so you can snap the cutest pics of your setup and make everyone wish they tagged along.

The CDC recommends traveling only after you’re fully vaccinated and your vaccine has become fully effective. If you’re not fully vaccinated and must travel, check the CDC guidelines before you book. Check your destination’s vaccination and testing requirements before you depart.