6 Ways to Amp Up Family Movie Night
Shift from the same old, same old family movie night to something new and exciting.
Family movie night is supposed to be fun, but doing the same old things can get a bit stale. Bring the magic back to your family movie night with a few creative ideas you'll all enjoy. Take turns choosing the movie, recommends Nell Minow, who blogs as Movie Mom. This instills a "sense of pride" in younger children and helps older children feel like they have some control over family decisions. But then go beyond that to take your movie night to new heights.
- Be the Stars
Instead of watching a traditional movie, pull out the home videos and watch your own family in action. Pop the popcorn, snuggle up under blankets and enjoy a chance to reminisce together. Or add a bit more togetherness by making homemade pizzas to eat while watching, suggests Kara Fleck, an author, mom and the editor of the Simple Kids blog. "It doubles as an activity and a meal," she says.
- Invite Others
Turn your family movie night into a movie party! If you want to stick to family, invite grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins to join the fun. Neighbors and friends might also enjoy the chance to kick back and spend time watching a movie with your family. Send movie-themed invitations and a voting card with a few movie options for everyone to choose from. Set up a snack bar with popcorn, pretzels and drinks. Ask kids to bring pillows and blankets so they can get cozy on the floor in front of the television.
- Turn Your Living Room Into a Drive-In
Find a cardboard box for each of your children. Provide markers, colored paper, glue and other art supplies and have your kids turn their boxes into cars. When it's time for the movie, you can turn your living room into a drive-in theater. Invite your children to "park" their cars in front of the television. Have your kids place their snack order, and then deliver it to their cars. A pillow and a blanket will make the "drive-in" a cozy affair. Mom and Dad can also make cars and pull up next to the kids to watch.
- Choose a Theme
Decide ahead of time what movie you'll be watching, and then turn the movie night into a themed event. If you're watching a movie about dinosaurs, for example, serve dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets, and encourage your children to make dinosaur masks to wear while they watch. Your princesses can put on their fanciest dresses and tiaras to watch a princess movie. Tiny sandwiches are perfect movie snacks for princes and princesses, too.
- Create a Theater Atmosphere
Go all out turning your house into a movie theater. Make pretend tickets and money, and have your children "buy" their movie tickets. Set up a snack bar in your kitchen, displaying a variety of snacks for your child to choose from. Ask your kids to fork over the play money to pay for their movie snacks. Pretend to be the usher. Stand by the television and take your kids' movie tickets before allowing them to sit down. Get even more authentic by tearing the tickets in half and giving one piece back to each child. When it's showtime, dim the lights and find a seat next to your kids.
- Go on a Scavenger Hunt
Choose what movie your family will watch a day or two in advance, and create a scavenger hunt based on the movie choice. Make a list of characters and things your kids might see during the movie. Each time they spot one, they can mark it off on their scavenger hunt page. The person who finds the most items gets to pick the movie for the next movie night.
Don't spend too much time worrying about the actual movie you watch. It's perfectly fine to watch the same movie over and over again, Minow notes, and it actually helps build family bonds over the love of the same movie. What's most important is the quality time your family spends together, and discussing the movie when it's over can lead to "important conversations," Minow says. Ultimately, Fleck adds, your goal is a "fun evening of togetherness."
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Have a hard time choosing a family-friendly movie? Try these 101 Movies for Kids.
Sara Ipatenco is a former elementary school teacher turned stay-at-home mom and freelance writer. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's and a master's degree, both in child development and elementary education, and has been published in "Teaching Tolerance" and "Family Fun" magazines.