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Warm summer nights, bright stars… And a movie marathon? That’s right! Once you’ve had your backyard turned into a daytime private paradise, it’s time to deck it out for nighttime. Pun intended. Now, you could flex those muscles and drag your HDTV outside for the night, but we’ll be honest with you, that just doesn’t have the same magical feeling. So, if you don’t mind some DIY, you can invite your friends, family and neighbours over for a star-lit movie night, complete with comfy sweats, cozy blankets and even an open bar! Oh, did we mention you can do it for less than $400? Popcorn cost included.

The first thing you’ll need to get is the screen, obviously. Now, there are two options for your preferred movie screen, each with different price tags and convenience levels. For your first option, you can purchase an inflatable or per-assembled projection screen at Target or Walmart, ranging from $75-$200. While the inflatable screen is more costly, it’s usually is sturdier and easier to store, so it’s easy to keep around for future summers.

The second option is to go full-on DIY. With a basic white tarp and some PVC pipes, you can easily create your own screen for as little as $50. Putting the screen together is fairly quick and easy, however it’s not overly durable and can’t be moved around too easily. But, there are oodles of online tutorials to help you along the way. For example, Cottage Life has an easy-to- follow How-To, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYM7q9Uk3Q0. However, if you’re just looking to use it a few times during the warmer months, it’s a good route to consider. Just be sure to add a blackout cloth to your screen material of choice, just to make sure your movie image is as bright as possible.

As for the projector, there is no need to gulp at the thought of a hefty price tag. Believe it or not, if you’re not looking to for a professional grade projector for a home theatre, you’re wallet won’t actually take too much of a hit. For an ultra-portable outdoor projector, Best Buy offers some great options as cheap as $150. If you’re looking to amp up the quality even more, some other brands are available for as little as $250. When looking at the specs of your projector, look for no less than 1500-2000 lumens, and double check that it can be connected to a DVD/ BluRay player or laptop to play your favourite flick!

So, now you have the video, but what about the audio? Most lower grade screens do not come with speakers, so whether you bought or built, you’ll need to add audio. If you are playing a movie from a laptop, any Bluetooth speakers can get the job done just fine. If you’re using a DVD/BluRay player, you’ll have to connect a separate speaker with a standard cable. Easy enough!

Once your screen is up and your projector is connected, there’s nothing left but inviting your friends and deciding on a movie. So send out a mass text, gather up some pillows and blankets make sure everyone knows it’s BYOP – Bring your own popcorn. Happy watching!

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