NELA Living Blog by Emilie Broughton

3 Fun Backyard Summer Night Ideas

As we head into the final month of summer in 2020, most of us are bummed we didn’t get to take that annual vacation. Look no further than your own backyard! There are tons of fun and creative summer ideas for your backyard that kids and adults will be sure to enjoy.

Backyard Movies
There’s nothing quite like watching a movie  outside in your own backyard. And DIY backyard movie theaters are an easy to set up yourself. You can set it all up in about 30 minutes if you have the right equipment.

Grab a sheet or portable screen: A screen will inherently have less wrinkles in it than a sheet, which is optimal for clear movie-watching. But if you do use a sheet, make sure you pull it super taut when you secure it to either a stand or a vertical flat surface. Set up a projector or use your laptop and/or phone. Click here for a “how to” guide. Just make sure that you have a speaker system that will be loud enough. If you have already set up an outdoor speaker system, even better.

Set up a movie snack table with popcorn, drinks, candy and anything else you and your family enjoy at the movies. Bring out some blankets and pillows and get comfy on your patio furniture or bring some chairs outside.

Backyard Camping
Backyard camping is a blast. Setting up a cozy nest takes some teamwork. If you have a tent, treat your backyard like a real campsite. Take your tent outside and find a smooth, flat surface to call home for the night. Make it cozy inside with bed rolls or multiple layers of sleeping bags and cushy comforters. If you do not have a tent: You can easily create a makeshift shelter by tying a rope or clothesline between two trees and hanging a large tarp, blanket, or canvas over top. Just make sure you have a dry place to sleep by laying a waterproof tarp underneath, then make it comfy by layering lots of blankets and cushy pillows on top. Make it magical: Set the scene by hanging lamps or stringing lights around the tent. These will illuminate your campsite with a soft glow and help everyone feel more comfortable spending the night outdoors in the dark.

Eating around a campfire is one of the best things about camping. If you have a fire pit, it is easy to roast hot dogs and toast marshmallows. If you do not have a fire pit, a small charcoal grill will work.  Remember, a campfire is not needed to eat like a camper. Pack sandwiches, trail mix, juice boxes and desserts in your cooler to grab at the ready.

Lastly, make a promise to stay outside. Pack up everything you will need to sleep overnight, including a tent, sleeping bags, stuffed animals, pillows, flashlights, games, books, bug spray and a cooler packed with snacks and drinks. Once you have all your essentials, make a promise that everyone should only go inside for emergencies and bathroom breaks (no sneaking in to check phones!). And, of course, all electronics stay inside.

Play Lawn Games or Bring Board Games Outside
We are so used to playing games on our phone these days, especially now that we are required to practice social distancing. If you have some old board games like Monopoly, Uno, Yahtzee or any of your other classic favorites, bring those outside and set them up on a table. Or you can take it to the next level with jumbo size versions of board games and play them on your lawn or find a good spot in your backyard. Backyard games are a great way to add some more competition between family and friends and finally get your body moving.

Connect 4
Bring Connect 4 up a notch with a set that everyone within a 100-foot radius can see. This 4-foot-tall game is a great choice because it comes with a holder for all the rings (so you won’t lose them) and it’s easy to assemble. Plus, it’s plastic, meaning your set won’t be ruined by a random downpour.

Channel your inner Harry Potter by setting up an oversized chess game! Players will have to move the chess pieces by picking them up. It’s fun and a unique way to bring the classic logic game to the great outdoors!

Is it really an outdoor party if there isn’t cornhole to play? There’re so many ways you can decorate cornhole boards these days. From light-up ones to boards that advertise your favorite sports team, there are plenty to choose from.

Check out Amazon, Target, Walmart or Wayfair for these or other games including jumbo-sized Jenga. You can also build your own. Click here for more ideas.

The most important thing is to remember to have fun together and create summer memories to last a lifetime.

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