Host a Spectacular Movie Night with Help from Your Library

by Public Service Associate Juliana

Image from Walt Disney Studios

Are you looking for a fun way to get together with family and friends? A movie night might be the ticket. Keep it simple with pizza, popcorn and candy, or create a menu based on your movie choice. You and your guests might enjoy it so much that you plan to do it on a regular basis.

That’s what happened in my family. We now gather monthly for a movie night, and it has been the best excuse to keep in touch. We had been looking for a way to get together more consistently and my sister suggested a “movie night” with a themed meal, a themed drink, and a simple craft for the kids. Now, each month when our scheduled date rolls around, everyone looks forward to it.

It’s a great way to introduce kids to classics or to give them autonomy and let them choose the film. The kids are young, and so far we have been working our way through contemporary and classic animated movies. Sometimes the monthly pick makes sense for seasonal reasons, like watching Coco right around the Day of the Dead, sometimes it’s random, like watching Frozen in June. We pick a date that works for everyone, usually a Sunday evening, and after that, the real fun starts. We text back and forth about themed menu ideas and other details to make the night special.

What I like about movie night is that it’s fun and casual but focused in a way that eases stress instead of creating it. You know the high expectations surrounding Thanksgiving and Christmas? Those are absent at movie night. We make, break, and change the rules as we go. We show up with ingredients, queue up themed music, chat and cook and catch up as we create a meal together. Someone makes cocktails, someone preps the veggies, someone heats up the grill. The kids love to put on costumes. My mom always brings something in-theme and sweet.

Our most recent movie night featured Disney’s Moana. We showed up dressed in Hawaiian shirts, the kids wore glowing Heart of Te Feti necklaces and Moana costumes, my brother-in-law cored and sliced pineapple to grill, my sister added coconut milk to the rice. The fun is in the details. 

Read on for four ways the library can help you plan a unique movie night!

  1. Find your film among BPL’s extensive DVD collection or reserve from within the consortium.
  2. Add a special touch. Make one-of-a-kind party favors and more using the award-winning video classes available through your library card. It’s easy to find simple crafts for the kids or fun decorations to make ahead of time. 
  3. Create a hot playlist. Get your guests dancing with music from BPL’s Hoopla music site. For Moana night, we listened to traditional Polynesian music and then pre-gamed for the movie with the Moana soundtrack.
  4. Find new party ideas. Make your event memorable with unique drinks, foods or décor found in this special collection of party helper books

For Moana night, I checked out Aloha Kitchen: Recipes from Hawai’i by Alana Kysar. This was such a fun, smart resource. I was able to gain insights into Hawaiian cuisine and culture. For example, companies like Dole and Del Monte trained us to think of pineapple as Hawaiian, but I learned that “just because (and maybe especially because) a dish has pineapple doesn’t mean it’s Hawaiian.”

Grilling pineapple for movie night was fine (and fun!), but it’s also important to recognize and understand that Hawaii’s food culture has a rich and diverse history. Hawaii’s food culture is influenced by Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Korean, and Filipino customs and flavors. This history is the direct result of diasporas that brought people to Hawaii. Kysar notes, “In some ways, to understand local Hawai’i food is to understand Hawai’i itself.” This is one of many reasons movie night is so great. It often turns into a learning experience, an excellent way to study different customs and cultures and become familiar with local lore and flavors.

Our Moana Movie Night Menu

  • King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls |Because you can’t pass these up in the grocery store when you’re hosting a Polynesian-themed movie night. They don’t even really go with anything on this menu, but they’re in-theme so we got them anyway and enjoyed them as always.
  • Fruit salad
  • Crab dip with purple sweet potato chips 
  • Build-your-own bowl | Perfect for a group! Our spread included smoked chicken, coconut rice, sesame teriyaki sauce, grilled pineapple, and grilled vegetables including zucchini, bell peppers, red onion, asparagus, broccoli, and mushrooms.
  • Hawaiian Punch for the kids, mai tais and Kona Brewing Co. Island Hopper Variety Pack for the adults
  • Hawaiian upside-down cake for dessert

Stay tuned for more Monthly Movie Night ideas!