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5 Tips for Hosting The Best Movie Night Ever

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5 tips for how to host the best movie night ever | #movies #entertaining

One of my favorite things about my group of friends is how much everyone loves watching (and discussing!) good movies together. So for any of you other movie lovers out there who have thought about inviting some friends over to watch a flick together, our film pro Sarah is here today to offer some great tips for how to host an award-winning movie night that everyone will remember.

I’m on a quest. A quest to perfect The Art of Hosting Movie Nights. I am still early on my journey, but here are a few things I’ve learned so far.

Movie Nights: Choose Wisely

1. Choose your film wisely

Your movie night is going to live or die on the strength of your cinematic selection. So be smart and be bold. Put some forethought into your program. Who’s the audience? Is this a girls’ night, a family gathering, or an evening for might-as-well-be-film-critics? Brainstorm some obvious choices first, then try for a twist. If you usually go for rom-coms with your girls, why not pick a rom-com/action mash-up like 2005’s Mr. and Mrs Smith ? (Directed by the recent Edge of Tomorrow‘s Doug Liman.) If you’ve got kids in the room, why not revisit one of your childhood favorites (E.T.? Newsies? Wizard of Oz?) instead of a more recent family flick?

This week, I invited women from my church over to watch Zero Dark Thirty. The fictionalized account of the search for Bin Laden may not be the first film you’d think of for a faith-based ladies’ event, but it was actually great: female director, female lead, and all kinds of weighty moral topics to debate afterward.

Movie Nights: Read the Room

2. Read the room

Even if you’ve carefully evaluated your audience and found The Perfect Choice, know when to switch things up at the last minute. The other night, I had a random group of friends over, and we were committed to watching either Nebraska or Philomena from last year’s Oscar race. We even had an e-mail vote beforehand to pick those two finalists. And then the night came, and we were all feeling a bit silly. We joked around over popcorn for way too long and finally wound our way around to movie time…wherein we ditched everything and went for A League of Their Own. It was just a there’s-no-crying-in-baseball kind of night. Speaking of popcorn…

Movie Nights: Make popcorn

3. Make popcorn

So what if it’s cliché? It’s what The People want. Make more than you think anybody will ever eat (because they will), and make it right. Stove-popped. Coconut oil. Salt. Nooch. And then make some more.

Movie Nights: Keep it Cushy

4. Keep it cushy

You don’t have to have rows of luxe recliners to keep your guests comfortable. Just make sure you have a stack of floor pillows and blankets on hand. It doesn’t matter if you buy ’em, borrow ’em, or make ’em—just have something to make sure the floor-sitters feel loved.

Movie Nights: Plan for Talk Time

5. Plan for talk time

The very best part of movie nights (OK, aside from the popcorn), is the discussion after the show. Remember to start your movie early enough that people will have time to stick around when it’s over. Turn the lights on, bring the snacks back out, refill people’s drinks, and dive right in. If you’re nervous about keeping the conversation going, you can write down some starter questions beforehand. (A very general, but reliable, two-parter for eliciting different views: “What do you think the director was trying to do? Did she succeed?”) Or you can just blurt out a Very Strong Opinion—one of my friends recently started a movie discussion with “Four words: They did it wrong”—and see if somebody takes the bait.

What are your movie night tips?

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Sarah Magill

Sarah Magill has a full-time movie habit made possible by a day-time greeting card writing gig. She blogs at Gimme Some Film and is learning to write scripts and direct. She tries to balance her screen obsession with trail running, jazz singing, book clubbing, and hanging out with The Best Golden Retriever Ever, Copa.

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12 comments on “5 Tips for Hosting The Best Movie Night Ever”

  1. Sounds like a good plan, especially with talk time after the movie. Usually my guest leave after the movie, this way is nicer.

  2. Love this post Sarah! I love having movie nights with friends – so nice and comforting!!

  3. Great tips!

    Sometimes I’m a bit selfish and rush into choosing the film without considering who else might even like it. Maybe I’ll take a vote between some shortlisted films next time. Or maybe not…

  4. I was just trying to have a great family movie night what kind of snacks do you recommend 

    • Honestly, it’s whatever kinds of things you like! Popcorn, trail mix, chex mix — those are some of our faves. Anything sweet and salty. :)

  5. I live in LA and I was trying to have a movie party with one of my SAG movies that were sent in the mail. Is it ok to show these & charge admission. I was going to call it ‘popcorn fund’ donations. Thanks

  6. Nice tips! Love the idea to vote for the movie ahead of time. And homemade popcorn…yum!

  7. Everything here made sense. All of it. I’m definitely trying these tips out. Thanks for sharing Sarah.

  8. I love your idea to plan enough time so we can talk about the movie after. My husband and I talked about getting an on-demand service so we can watch movies at home, so we’ll probably be having some movie nights soon. Your advice should help us have some memorable movie nights with our friends!

  9. Very helpful. What timing do you recommend?

  10. Good advice