Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Family Movie Nights

My kids LOVE family movie night.  I'm not sure why it's such a big deal.  We watch movies a few times a week, but for some reason Family Movie Night is so much more special.  

In our house this event takes place after the dinner dishes are cleared away, usually on a Friday or Saturday night.  We put down a spill-proofing blanket on the floor in front of the TV and everyone is in their pajamas, ready for bed.  We've had a few incidents of kids falling asleep during the movie, so we instated the pajamas rule.  Sometimes we just let them sleep where they landed all night, depending on where they landed.  

We also pop popcorn. What's a movie without popcorn, right?  I purchased the striped plastic popcorn containers a few years ago from the dollar spot at Target - they have them several times a year.  My kids think these are awesome.  We pull them out for movie night and everyone has to sit on the blanket to have popcorn. I made one using rip-stop nylon (you could also use oil-cloth) and polar fleece - they nylon goes on the bottom and the top is soft and comfy, also great for picnics. This way I can just fold the edges and carry it outside to shake it out.  Once in a while I pick up a box of movie candy at the store - still trying to figure out how they can sell it for $1/box and the movie theaters must sell it for $3+/box.  They're all trying to make a profit, but that just crosses the line to greedy.  We also buy a 2 liter of soda to share, because we normally don't keep sodas on hand.  I have a stash of kids cups with lids saved from eating out at restaurants and I just use regular straws.  We use these cups all the time.  I don't buy plastic cups for my kids anymore.  Once we're set up with treats, we dim the lights and start the movie.

Tips for memorable movie nights:
  • Establish rules for talking, pausing for restroom breaks, etc.  If you have young kids consider an intermission halfway through the movie.  
  • Plan for snacks ahead of time, snacks that are small pieces they can eat with their hands are best since they'll be eating in the dark, some suggestions to be like a movie theater:  
    • Popcorn 
    • fun size M&M's, Skittles and Reese's Pieces
    • boxes of movie candy
    • gummy fruit snacks
    • muddy buddies
    • juice boxes
    • mini cans of soda with straws
    • sports bottles
    • This would also be a good time to try some of the popcorn recipes you've pinned.  
  • Before you start the movie, make sure everyone is comfy and ready to go with pillows or blankies.  
  • Dim the lights.  It's not like a movie theater with the lights on.  
Our favorite family movies:
  • Nim's Island  - adventure, comedy and just enough thrill to keep them interested, without being scary
  • We Bought a Zoo  - it did take a little while for my younger kids (ages 3 &5) to get interested, because the zoo part isn't right at the beginning and they kept waiting to see the animals, now they love it.
  • Kit Kittredge: An American Girl  - my husband groaned when he saw the title, but when we finished watching it the first time, they started it over immediately.  Great period piece with an ensemble cast and still has a modern feel.  Also has some good moral lessons. 
  • Dolphin Tale  - what's not to love about this feel good story?
  • Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium 
  • Nanny McPhee
  • Mr. Popper's Penquins - I am not normally a fan of Jim Carrey, although I do like his more recent movies better, but this is a fantastic family film about what's really important in life and it's really funny.  
  • Akeelah and the Bee - Proof that you background doesn't have to define you.  
  • The Sand Lot
  • Any of the  Toy Story  movies, they seem to get better with each sequel, and any other Disney-Pixar film for that matter, and yes, like many other adults I know, I cried during the third one.  
  • Where the Red Fern Grows - bring the tissues.  
  • Annie - fun songs.  
  • Anne of Green Gables and all the sequels
There are many more great family films out there, but it takes some looking to find them.  

Since I've dedicated my blog to sharing my savings ideas with you, here's how we pay for movies:  

We rent from Redbox because the $1.20/night is a really cheap way to go and since there are 3 of them within 10 blocks, it's not a big deal to return it.  We've headed out at 11:45pm before, just to avoid the extra days charge.  Plus if one doesn't have the movie we want, another usually does and we don't have far to go.  

We also love the live-stream feature from Netflix.  We stream through our Wii, but many of the new TV's are capable of streaming directly from the internet.  Another great feature for Netflix, is that you can live stream through 2 devices at once, be it your laptop, tablet or smart phone.  We try to only use it when we have WiFi, but it's been a great entertainer when we couldn't get a sitter and needed the kids kept busy.  There are a lot of good family movies and kids' shows, although not a lot of new releases this way.  We used to have their DVD program as well, but at the time we had to go to the post office to get our mail and I constantly forgot to take it with me so we paid a lot of extra money to have one or 2 movies a month.  We now have a mailbox at our house, so I may add it back on since it's more convenient to return them.  

We no longer have cable or satellite in an effort to save money, but there are so many TV programs (reruns) that my kids can always find something to watch.  Plus we don't have to watch commercials so the kids aren't bombarded with advertising.   

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