Family movie night is a big deal at our house. Dubbed “Famjam Movie Night,” we like to sit down together and make a special occasion of a cozy night-in. What branched from one of our son’s special interests has turned into one of our favorite family traditions.
Here are the key essentials for a successful family movie night:
Decide when and how often works best for your family. It doesn’t have to be a weekend night if that doesn’t work with your schedule. We usually opt for a Friday night when everyone is wiped out after a busy week and we are comfortable with the kids staying up late, but maybe a midday Sunday flick that doesn’t compete with bedtime is a better fit. Or, a weeknight afternoon plan might be ideal.
Maybe once per month is better than trying to keep up with a weekly plan. Maybe you want to extend the invite to friends or neighbors. Or, maybe you’d rather go to your local movie theater instead of staying in. The best plan will be whatever feels doable for your own family.
We generally loosen up our normal rules for movie night when it comes to bedtime and snacks, but setting “house rules” for movie night will help things run more smoothly. Decide who will pick the movie. Maybe you’ll take a vote, or rotate picks. You may want to pre-screen movies you haven’t seen before if you have a sensitive viewer (or at least do your homework).
Common Sense Media has lots of reviews and ratings to help families decide which movies are appropriate for them. Other rules to consider: no phones allowed, no repeats in a calendar year, or if you live in my house . . . no wrestling during the movie.
We watch a lot of movies at home but on Famjam Movie Night, we take the time to really set up the space. We bring out the kids’ play couches and push them up against the couch making what my kids lovingly refer to as “the couch bed.” Extra blankets are brought out, the kids pull the pillows from their beds and their favorite stuffed animals, and everyone usually wears cozy pjs.
Dim the lights and turn up the volume. During the pandemic we once set up a “red carpet” and streamers in the hallway. If you have the setup for a projector screen, or even an outdoor movie in the summer? Both would be so fun!
What movie night would be complete without snacks? It can be fun to coordinate a theme with the movie, or maybe just popcorn is your jam. We usually opt for divided trays and load them up with everyone’s favorites.
Take the candy your kids accumulate over various holidays and make a special candy concession jar for movie night. Detroit Mom has a variety of charcuterie board ideas that would be perfect! If you’re opting for a dinner and a movie combo, my kids have always been fond of the floor picnic (results may vary).
Choose a method to keep track of movie night picks, each family member’s ratings, and favorite quotes. You can find specific “Family Movie Night” journals that have organized spots for these details, but however you choose to keep track, it’s fun to look back on the memories you’ve made together. Everyone has different comfort levels with screen time but experts agree screen time where adults are also watching and engaging with kids is preferred.
Don’t forget to debrief afterward or the next day; you might be surprised at what each member of your family takes away from different movies. Picking specific movies may open up to bigger conversations on different topics depending on the ages of your kids.
No matter how you decide to host your own family movie night–whether it’s elaborately detailed, or as simple as clicking on the TV–the important part is the quality time you’ll be spending with the people you love.