Movie Night At Home Done Cheaply

In their article 8 Ways to Create a Movie Night at Home! Recipe 4 Living (R4L) gave us all their best advice for how to make a night at home, watching movies, great. We at Harem Cinema agreed with a lot of what they said so we are including some of their hints here.

Ambiance & Mood

One of the most important things about movie night at home is to get the ambiance right. It’s hard to make it feel like a special event if you don’t do anything to make it special. Fortunately for you, here is a list of simple things that you can do to set the right mood for your fun night at home. So turn the lights down and crate that wonderful, shadowy feel of being at the cinema.


Seating is key to enjoying movie night. If you are not comfortable or if you can’t see the screen easily then you are not going to have much fun. The same rule applies for your guests. If you are having your pals over for movie night it is important to their enjoyment that some simple ground rules are followed. For instance, make sure that you have enough comfortable chairs. That doesn’t mean that you go dig out those awful, folding chairs you have stored in the garage somewhere. It means seating that is comfortable enough to make you want to stay and keep on staying. Don’t have enough chairs? No problem. Try setting up a picnic type of area on the floor in front of the screen.



Soda, pop, fizzy drinks, as my grandmother used to call them), milk, beer, milkshakes, malts, water or hard liquor, drinks are an important part of making movie night at home special. Do you know what isn’t very special and does a lot to detract from the special event that you are trying to create? The wrong drink containers. You might have nice glassware. You might not. One of my most awful memories from childhood was the terribly strange glasses that my grandmother used to serve everything in. They had these weirdly painted flowers on the side of them that were oddly off-putting. I found myself so distracted by the strangeness of the glasses that I completely forgot to enjoy the drink that was inside of it. So, having the right drink containers is important if you want to get movie night right and make the best of it. You don’t have to spend a fortune. A really affordable option is to use disposable party or picnic cups. They come in plastic or paper, are cheap to buy and everyone gets the same type of cup. The added benefit is that we are all used to getting these cups at parties and social events so we are pre-conditioned to think of them as something special because they are different from our every-day lives.

Thinking of setting up a drink bar? Do it! If you have friends over it quickly becomes a gathering place like the water-cooler in an office building. It gets people socializing and brings down barriers so that even shy people who don’t know each other will soon be chatting up a storm at the drinks bar.


Popcorn is one of the easiest ways to create the right cinema experience at home. It’s cheap, it’s filling an you can do numerous things to flavor it. Unless you are my wife, who hates popcorn. Unless it is the caramel covered popcorn. The she can’t get enough of it. Popcorn is an underrated item. Yes it’s fun to eat but if you really want to do something that jazzes up your night, get a popcorn maker. Sure you can buy it in a bag and microwave it or you can heat it in a saucepan but there is nothing quite as magical as watching popcorn explode into life and dance inside a glass box. As soon as the corn starts to pop, people stop and watch it. it is like the earliest video game, the way that it instantly captures people’s attention. Consider getting a popcorn maker, it will make memories with every kernel. To read our popcorn maker reviews and recommendations just CLICK on the Popcorn Maker category in the menu list on the right hand side of Harem Cinema pages.


Theater owners have done a marvelous job of brainwashing us all into believing that eating snacks is an essential part of going to the movies. I happen to agree with them. You want the complete experience so stock up on your favorite snacks. If you are having friends over, make it a pot-luck and have them bring something to share. The anticipation of finding out what treats people have brought is a key element to adding some surprise to movie night at home.

A Do-It-Yourself Nacho Station

OK, this recommendation by the fun folks at Recipe 4 Living took me by surprise. But then my wife pointed out that our friends Ben and Kate often have this exact thing at their get togethers. And we love it. Everyone loves it. Which is a surprise because Kate is a chef and her cooking is very tasty. So why does everyone gather around their nacho table at the parties? Because it’s fun. it’s something to do and it sparks conversation. You swap ideas and preferences and you are inspired to try new things by your friends. It’s a fun thing to do, plus you can make your food the exact what that you want it. Once you try this, you’ll never be able to look at that Luke-warm theater food again.

Have A Theme

This is one of my favorite things to do with movie nights and will greatly add to your fun. For me and my wife and my friends, the best part of having a themed movie night event is that it extends the experience to more than just the viewing of the picture itself. That, after all, is what Harem Cinema is all about. Expanding and improving your movie experiences beyond what you can normally get by just popping a DVD into the player and settling onto your couch to watch something. Using a theme not only adds to the enjoyment of the actual movie but it also gives you the fun and excitement of planning the night.

Here’s an example of what I mean. Right now, while I am writing this, Harem Cinema is showing Lady From Chungking to remember the wonderful Chinese American actress Anna May Wong. In this movie, Wong plays a Chinese freedom fighter who is leading a resistance movement against the Japanese oppressors. That might sound like it’s a heavy movie with depressing overtones but, as far as providing an exciting theme goes, it is a gold mine. My wife and I were thrilled about this movie being shown because it gave us an opportunity to really have fun with it. We made a shopping list of different Chinese dishes that we wanted to make. Then we spent the time leading up to watching the movie making a noodle dish that we like quite a lot. We have Chinese bowls and chopsticks that my wife brought back from her trip to China a few years ago, so we ate out of those. We made sure that we had a stock of our preferred sauces on hand (thanks to David, a family friend who owns a Chinese restaurant down the street). My wife even wore her Kimono. I pointed out to her that a Kimono is Japanese, not Chinese and she let me know that she was helping to heal the wounds between both sides by eating Chinese food while dressed in traditional Japanese clothing. I didn’t argue because I have learned how to nod and agree with her after seventeen years of marriage.

That is one way to enjoy a themed movie night at home. There are lots of different ways to do it and much of the fun comes out of the planning and execution. I like film noir so, like a stereotypical fan, I make sure that I have a tumbler of scotch and a fat cigar on hand for those nights.

My wife doesn’t like horror movies but she likes that she gets to uses the theme excuse for eating handfuls of squishy gummy worms. She loves jello so she brought a brain shaped mold so that she could also eat ‘brains’ while she watched fright flicks with me. What a gal!

This might all sound a little over the top but I promise you that you will have a fantastic time by using a theme. Romantic movie night? Great! Champagne is easy and perfect to work into that theme.

Ice Cream

Ice cream, personally I am not a fan. Never was, even as a kid. But there was one place that I always made sure I had money to buy an ice cream and that was at the movies. Why? Honestly I have no idea. Somewhere in my youth it got inside me that, when you go to the movies, you have an ice cream. But not just any ice cream, it had to be one of those ice creams in a cone where the some came completely covered in a shell of hard chocolate. By the way, I don’t much like chocolate either. But you can be sure that every single time I went to the movies, I made sure to get one of these. The even stranger part was that I never ate them. Because I don’t like ice cream much. But for me, it was part of the ritualized experience of going to the cinema. I am much more adult now so my tastes have moved from ice cream to those very questionable hot dogs they serve at the concession stand. I know they are probably bad for me, but they are part of going to the movies as an adult. My wife chuckles at me because she knows that, even if we just came directly from a restaurant, straight into the theater, I will still always get a hot dog.

That’s the kid of ceremony that is important for making the best movie night at home. It’s  a collection of all the little things, tweaked just right, to make the perfect movie experience. So, if ice cream is part of your ritual, do it right. You could use bowls but, for me, the clear choice is cones or those little paper cups you get at the corner ice cream shop. Have a variety of flavors and toppings. A fun thing to do is to set up a toppings station so that people can make their own ice cream any way they want. Popular toppings include, fudge, sprinkles, cookies, m&ms and even fruit. It’s cheap and it adds a bit of magic to your evening.

All of these tips will help you make the best movie night at home that you have ever had. It’s a simple, easy and cheap way to make a memorable experience for everyone that attends, even if it’s just you. Now go enjoy a movie with Harem Cinema!

A Personal Note.

In their article, R4L also noted how expensive it can be to go to the theater to watch a movie. While I think that is a fair and true criticism, I think it might also be a little unfair in that it misses the main point of movie night. Sure you could come up with other ways to spend that money but movie night isn’t just about the movie. It’s the entire experience. Yes the concession stand prices will make you grind your teeth and the oddly tall person sitting right in front of you, blocking your view is annoying. But we still love going to the movie theater because it is an extraordinary experience. It certainly beats plopping down in front of your home TV to kill time. So keep a kind place in your heart for cinemas and cinema owners. They have given me some of my fondest memories, like the time I first saw Back To The Future or Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

Recipe 4 Life did also note “Your couch at home is much nicer than a room full of strangers.” So stay home and share a Harem Cinema experience.


If you want to read the Recipe 4 Life article, go here