Plan A Family Movie Night
Tips on Choosing a Theme, Movie, Snacks and More!
By Jane Louise Boursaw
I’ve noticed a disturbing phenomenon in our household lately. All of us -- two adults and two kids -- love movies and television, but find ourselves plugged in (literally, as in, with a headphone) to the various TVs scattered throughout the house, watching the shows we each like. Eleven-year-old Will loves the vintage cartoons on Boomerang. Eight-year-old Marissa is into “That’s So Raven” and “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.” My husband, Tim, likes The History Channel and Fox News.
Me? Well, I lean towards old movies and musicals, but must admit that I just finished watching the entire series of “The Sopranos” on DVD. To balance out the violent and dysfunctional nature of Tony et al, I’ve been watching classics like “His Girl Friday” and “Singin’ in the Rain.”
Needless to say, we need to bring the family back together, and what better way to do it than with a family movie night? Ok, I know what you’re thinking. With such diverse tastes, how in the world are we going to find something we ALL like and can watch together? And, logistically, how do we make it all happen? Well, as Walt Disney himself said, the way to get started is to quit talking and start doing. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Make it official. Set a movie start time and stick to it. At our house, Friday nights are movie nights because it’s a nice way to de-stress after a long week of work and school. The phone is turned off and the movie starts at 7 p.m., after a no-hassle dinner of pizza or mac-and-cheese.
Finish those chores. It’s hard to escape into a movie when you’ve got dishes and laundry calling you from the other room. Work together as a family to get household chores done before the movie starts (good motivation!). Even young kids can help pick up toys and put away laundry.
Have fun with it. Ask the kids to make tickets and sell them at a “box office” (a large cardboard box that’s cut out and decorated to look like a real box office). They can even “usher” parents to their seats, using a small flashlight like in the old days. To further turn your living room into a cinema, have the kids make theater scenery out of another big box -- cut a square large enough to fit around the television, then paint seats and the backs of people’s heads, as if you’re sitting in a real theater.
Make it snack-a-licious. Movie candy like Goobers or Raisinettes lend an air of authenticity, and don’t forget the popcorn. The microwave variety is fine; even better is stove-popped corn in a variety of flavors. Try sprinkling with different mixes: cinnamon/sugar, Cajun spices, or nacho cheese mix. For more great ideas – including cinnamon pretzels and ice cream sandwiches – check out our movie snack recipes that kids can help make.
Tune in to Betty Boop. Watch vintage cartoons before the movie starts, like they used to (and still do) at some theaters and drive-ins. If you don’t have any on hand, check out Amazon.com or eBay for pre-owned classics like Woody Woodpecker, Rocky & Bullwinkle or Betty Boop.
Consider a theme. If you’re watching “Finding Nemo,” snack on gummy sharks and goldfish crackers and pretzels. “The Jungle Book” lends itself to animal crackers, fruit kabobs and peanuts. Enlist your kids to come up with creative snacks based on the movie. For creative craft ideas check out our crafts page.