This adorable, incredible socially distant backyard movie birthday party was thrown by our friend Lauren Herpich. Lauren is the mom to one now-five-year-old and the entrepreneur behind Local Food Adventures. We thank her for sharing!
Throwing a kid-friendly drive-in movie birthday party at home
In order to throw a socially distanced birthday party for my son, Connor, I remembered this idea I had seen on Pinterest a couple of years ago. As a family who already loves to set up outdoor movies, throwing our kiddo a backyard drive-in movie birthday seemed inevitable.
Creating a backyard space with miniature car seats made from cardboard was a clever way to keep the children outside and also TRY to keep the kids a bit separated. We tried our best. One of our young guests brought his own Transformers Bumblebee-style car WITH HEADLIGHTS!!
The base of each car was a giant wardrobe-size cardboard box from the Box Stop in Walnut Creek (ps these boxes were so sturdy and ginormous, the kids all took theirs home and we re-purposed ours for a Halloween scary skeleton pirate ship!). In addition to attaching simple black paper party plates and printed license plates with each kid’s name, we supplied each kid with their own set of markers so they could decorate their vehicle. They also had blankets to make their spots comfier.
For food, every kid was given a self-contained box of treats like Uncrustables (PB&J sandwiches), clementine oranges, mini bags of Pirate Booty, and juice boxes. For the birthday treat, they all got cupcakes. Movie popcorn boxes are optional.
We turned to food tour favorite, Cactus Taqueria, and provided all of the chaperoning adults with their own to-go box dinner of their choice. Burritos make especially good meals for keeping distant.
My son had a wonderful time at his backyard drive-in movie night and being able to celebrate outdoors with our friends reminded us all how fortunate we are to live here.
What you need to set up a backyard movie party
You’ll need to have some kind of movie projector, a screen (or large, taut sheet), and a speaker strong enough to reach the edges of your yard but not into your neighbors’ windows (this stuff is available as a rental, too). Our backyard already had twinkle lights, they are nice-to-have but not necessary. This mini projector is well-rated for about $100, and it can play media from your phone, laptop, or fire stick.
- We used a large white sheet to project our Peanuts movie. A legit movie screen can cost about $100 and an inflatable projector screen is about $150. A large drop cloth can do the trick, too.
- Any small speaker is going to be better than whatever plays from your laptop. If we were starting from scratch, I might get this waterproof speaker.
- After the essentials, you can go crazy with decor like this roadway mat, a pink corvette photo prop, or Now Showing movie banner.
Kids too old to sit in a cardboard box? Most of these ideas translate to setting up blankets or (distanced outdoor) chairs for the guests.
Thank you, again, Lauren. All photos used with permission.