We are all having to think outside of the box these days about ways to engage and entertain our kids. And I’m going to guess that if you have a child over the age of four, you are no stranger to a good old-fashioned family movie night. Finding ourselves more homebound these days, we parents need to get the most bang for our buck out of any activity. Lately I’ve amped up our family movie night game with this fun little formula: Theme + Activity + Costumes + Relevant Snacks + Movie = Family Movie Night Extravaganza!
Follow along for 5 fun and festive ideas for family movie night.
- HARRY POTTER. Harry Potter books are amazing, and they are also LONG, so getting through one with your child is deserving of a little fanfare. We order a box of Harry Potter Candy, which of course includes Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans, and brew up some homemade frozen Butterbeer. After recently hosting a Harry Potter-themed birthday party for my son, we also have a large stash of wizard hats, house ties, and wands (painted chopstick will do just fine). A few of my son’s cousins are ahead of us in the series so we often invite them over for our viewing parties. One of the many amazing things about the Harry Potter series is that the novels not only open children (and adults) up to the wonders of reading, they demonstrate how books can be the catalyst for building a sense of community with other like-minded readers.
- LEGO MASTERS. You know how your spouse has those “stories” they tend to tell at every party? My topic of choice while at children’s birthday parties (which seem to be the only parties we go to anyway these days) is how much we loved the recent Lego Masters series. Yes, it doesn’t hurt that I have a 7-year-old Lego maniac at home, but most notably I found it so refreshing to watch a highly entertaining, family friendly show that glorified a skill other than become famous or a pop star. And yes, I get that it’s not a movie, but when it was time for the season finale, we had a highly-anticipated family viewing party, which included Lego building, Lego brick cupcakes and rectangular pepperoni pizza slices to resemble Lego bricks, and dressing up like our favorite mini figure. After the season wrapped my son has been inspired to invent many of his own themed “builds,” including a few that involved family-wide competitions.
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Who can take tomorrow, dip it in a dream, separate the sorrow and collect up all the cream? You guessed it; the Candy Man (and not the horror-movie guy who shows up if you say his name three times). If your child is of reading/listening age, start off of course by reading Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. If your kiddos are little and squirmier, the audiobook version, or simply a few rounds of the game Candy Land might have to do for the activity portion. The relevant snack is of course obvious here, and sure to elicit loads of excitement form your kids, maybe even necessitating a little jaunt to the candy shop so everyone can pick out their own favorite treat. The big question is whether or not to watch the original movie that was released in 1971, or the more recent Johnny Depp version. I am hands down in favor of the former, although maybe fast forward through the never-ending “Cheer up Charlie” number and super-creepy boat ride.
- CLUE. While I generally prefer for movie night extravaganzas to be the result of completing a book, I make an exception for Clue. I have so much nostalgia for this game that I am willing to overlook the fact that it’s about murder (and let’s admit it, the scandal is part of the fun). Plus, who doesn’t love imagining what it would be like to live in a home with all those fancy rooms! This extravaganza should of course kick off with everyone dressed as their favorite character (I will not be going as Ms. White, for reasons explained in my recent 9 Tips to get Your Kids to Clean Up after Themselves post!), and a few round of the beloved board game. Then queue the suspenseful snacks (I like to play on the character’s names…Plum, Mustard, Scarlet, you get it) and let the light-hearted murder mystery roll.
- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. While this classic story likely needs little introduction, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was the first and most popular novel in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series. To start, you should of course read the story with your kids, particularly if, like me, you have a child who enjoys adventure stories involving quests and fantasy worlds. Running just over four hours, the audiobook version of this story is also a great choice as you can easily get through it in a week (or quicker if your headed on a road trip). Once the book has wrapped it’s time for a showing of the 2005 movie. A note of caution, while this movie is a real gem, it can be quite scary in a few places (killer wolves, battles, etc.), and I had to fast-forward through the scene where the lion gets slain. The story ends with the children becoming the kings and queens of Narnia, which can serve as an easy and fun costume idea, although the white witch is certainly a fun get up (and ahem, not too far of a cry from Queen Elsa), as well a host of animals, including of course a lion. For snacks, play off the idea of Turkish Delight, which in real life is a flavored gelatin delicacy, but in the novel is a stand in for temptation, letting everyone pick out the #1 snack they cannot seem to put down (red vines for me)!
Hope you enjoyed my suggestions for 5 fun themes for amped up family movie nights, which certainly don’t need to be limited to my suggestions above. Just follow along with my trusty formula: Theme (favorite book, game, show, etc.) + Activity (reading, playing, building) + Costumes (even better if homemade!) + Snacks (because, duh, kids are involved) + Movie Showing = a movie extravaganza your kids are sure to love.
Feature photo by K Culp/Adobe