Did you know that you can add a retro spin to your next date night with a private movie experience — from the comfort of your own car? If you’re running thin on date night ideas, try jazzing up your next weekend evening plans with an outdoor flick. Here, we’ll give you a step-by-step overview of what you’ll need for your next romantic car date idea, whether you’re turning your driveway into a private theater or driving to your favorite scenic locale and setting up a mini viewing from your dashboard.
1. Make Your Car Movie Night Cozy
The best part about having a movie date in your own car is that you can deck your vehicle out with as many pillows, blankets and snacks as you want. Since it’s best not to leave your car running, remember to bring some extra layers and blankets to keep you warm. Here’s a quick checklist of items that can make your experience as comfortable as you want.
Before your movie, enjoy a picnic (from your car) that overlooks a sunset view. Here are some meals that don’t require a fork and knife:
- Grabbable food such as sandwiches, tacos or popcorn chicken
- Charcuterie board with crackers, cheese, dried fruit and nuts
- Takeout from a local restaurant or fast food from a drive-through
Movie Snack Ideas
If you still want to munch on something crunchy after dinner, bring your favorite savory and sweet snacks to share:
- Popcorn (from a bag or homemade with toppings like cinnamon sugar, nutritional yeast or furikake)
- Potato chips
- Candy (M&Ms, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers or your go-to sweets)
- Trail mix
- Chocolate-covered pretzels
Don’t forget to keep a tote bag with the following items in your car, in case of a mess:
- Reusable utensils
- Paper trash bag
- Water, tea, sodas, wine or beer (with a cooler)
- Hand wipes
2. Recreate the Drive-In Experience From Your Driveway
There are only a few hundred drive-ins left in the U.S. and Canada, but with modern technology you can affordably set one up in the driveway of your home. With a few reusable and affordable materials, you can make a four-wheel movie date a recurring part of this year’s plans.
Get the Items You’ll Need for a Car Movie Night
- A high-quality projector. When you’re browsing the market for a projector, you’ll need to consider factors such as lumens, contrast, throw distance and resolution over brand name or price. In fact, cheaper projectors are often meant for PowerPoints or whiteboard presentations, and won’t have the proper resolution or aspect ratio for movie screenings. Here are our recommendations for cinema-quality projectors: Epson Home Cinema Projector and ViewSonic Home Theater Projectors.
- A tarp/screen/drop cloth. You can DIY your own screen (check out HGTV’s step-by-step guide for more details) or simply order one online. We recommend the Mdbebbron 120-inch screen or Elite Screens.
- A digital FM transmitter. You’ll need this handy transmitter to broadcast audio from your device to your radio, without the lag of bluetooth. We suggest using a boombox or speakers rather than your car radio to avoid draining your battery. Our product go-to: C. Crane Digital Transmitter.
- Extension cords. These will come in clutch when you need to connect your projector and laptop to the nearest power source.
Set Up Your Driveway for a Movie Night in Your Car
Once you have your materials, you can set up your screening in less than an hour. To ensure that nothing unexpected pops up to hinder your date-night schedule, try testing everything out the day before, in case you need to run to the hardware store for an extra extension cord or battery for your transmitter.
Depending on the make and model of your car — as well as the weather — you may either want to prop open the back of your trunk and set up cushions and blankets for an alfresco experience, or tilt the front seats back and watch through the windshield. Either way, you can play with the placement of your projector to see whether the dashboard, hood or roof gives you the best angle. After that, it’s a matter of backing up your car until the image fits the screen.
Host a Double Date
If your driveway has room for two cars, why not invite your favorite couple over for double-date? You and your friends can lounge in the trunks of your own cars or have the windows rolled down to share the audio, but with the digital FM transmitter they’ll be able to tune in to the audio from their own car as well.
3. Have a Car Movie Night at Your Favorite Scenic Spot
If you don’t have a driveway, no biggie — you can still enjoy an outdoor movie night. Why not venture out to your favorite scenic spot, recline your seats and enjoy a movie from your laptop? It’s lower-tech than a projector, but still a romantic and easy car date idea that’ll give you both a refreshing change of scenery.
Materials You’ll Need for a Scenic Car Movie Night
Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
- A laptop or tablet to screen the movie (we recommend a laptop, or the largest portable screen you have).
- A portable laptop power bank (optional). A dead laptop is a sure way to kill the vibes, so either make sure your device is fully charged before you head out of the house or take a portable power bank with you to keep your laptop juiced. Here are seven of the best battery packs on the market.
- Binder clips and dark sheets or blankets to cover your windows. You can follow these easy instructions to set up your own window-blockers for cheap.