Heading to the Movies: How to Host Your Own DIY "Drive In"

Grab the kids, pack up the car and stock up on the blankets and pillows- let’s go see a movie! Drive-in theaters were a major part of every 50’s kids childhood. Munching on some cinema snacks while gazing up at the giant flickering screen in the back of dad’s car is an experience shared by many of that era. Sadly, drive-in theaters have vanished throughout the years, with less than 350 left in the United States.

But, you don’t have to venture far to catch a flick; with these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to hold your very own screening right in your backyard! 

Get Together

Finding a prime location can be a bit tricky, especially since not many of us have mega parking lots. If you don’t have enough room for a dozen or so cars (let’s be honest, who does?) there's a few things you can do. 

Create Some “Cars”:

This is especially fun for the kiddos. You’ll need a cardboard box, some colored paper plates or some paint. Take four paper plates and paint them black. Glue two on each side to mimic car wheels. Glue two yellow paper plates to the front of the box to make headlights. Ta-da! A new set of wheels. 

Picnic Style:

This is a great idea for “grown-ups.” Set up some blankets, towels or lawn chairs for you and your guests to sit on. It may not be a true “drive-in,” but pair with a 50s themed movie and some snacks and you’re set. Speaking of snacks:

Grab Some Grub

Here’s some tasty treats sure to get you in the mood:

Caramel Popcorn 

It wouldn’t be a movie without popcorn! If you’re feeling adventurous you can always make your own caramel.

For an easy alternative, simply buy some premade caramel or caramel sauce, heat it up, pour it over the popcorn, mix well and there you have it! Good ol’ caramel popcorn! 


You can never go wrong with candy! We recommend some well-known favorites, such as M&Ms and Reese’s Pieces. Check out OldTimeCandy.com for some true-to-the-time classics! 

Corn Dogs

Did you know you can use Bisquick for more than pancakes? Check out how to make yummy corn dogs here!

And if you’re going all out, you can even make your own snack tray using a shoe box, or set up a table and cloth to make your very own snack bar. Don’t forget the soda pop! 

The Big Screen

Although you could just pop a movie in the dvd player and call it a day, for a more realistic approach, hang up a white sheet and use a projector to show the movie. You can even invest in a blow-up movie screen, but those can get pretty expensive. 

What’s Playing? 

You’ve got the set-up, the snacks, the screen- now what? To really sell it, choose a movie accurate to the time! Here are some of our favorites:

For the kids:

Cinderella (1950)

Peter Pan (1953)

Old Yeller (1957)

Treasure Island (1950)

Teens n’ Tweens: 

Godzilla (1951)

Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

The Fly (1958)

A Star is Born (1954)

For the Adults:

Father of the Bride (1950)

House of Wax (1953)

Some Like It Hot (1959)

Vertigo (1958)

Featuring the 50’s

Stand By Me (1986)

Forrest Gump (1994)

Back to the Future (1985)

Grease (1978)

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Photo credit: Pinterest 

Rachael Doukas