How to set up your home for the best family movie night experience. You don’t even need a TV – in fact, we recommend not owning one!
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Fact: I have a prejudice against televisions. I blame my mother, who somehow convinced my sports-loving dad that it was a good idea to not replace the one TV my parents owned. They didn’t own it for very long – it broke sometime between their marriage and the arrival of the first of their ten children.
When you are raised without a television, the way in which televisions take over homes becomes absurdly obvious – at least if you are me. They sit in living rooms, vast black mouths that scream, “Please, feed me your brain!”
I don’t like televisions, but I don’t think television shows and movies are evil. The Leapfrog Letter Factory series pretty much taught my three older kids to read. I’ll probably introduce four-year-old Anna to it sometime soon. I let Anna watch Creative Galaxy episodes quite frequently while the kids are at school. A recent episode inspired her to create this paper mache masterpiece.
I also enjoy watching a movie with Mike and the kids at the end of a long week – and talking to the kids about what we watch afterwards.
We have always just watched movies on our computers, but recently we decided we wanted something more – especially for family movie night. We looked at TV screens. They are heavy, unwieldy, and I still worry about them even safely mounted on a wall in earthquake-prone California. Then there’s the problem of the big black screen reminding the kids that the TV is there every moment of every day.
Our Family Movie Night Setup
After a lot of research, I found the perfect movie night setup for our family: this projector. I thought we would need a projector screen, but it turns out that our textured, very pale violet wall works just fine. The projected image is crisp, and we spent less than we would have on a television. The projector list price is over $500, but it is pretty much always on sale. We paid $334 for it. This is also a much healthier way to watch a move in the evenings, because the light is reflected. With a typical television, you are staring directly into the light source. The projector takes up the same amount of space as a large encyclopedia, and there is no gaping screen urging children to turn it on.
How large the image is depends on how far away your projector is. We have ours set up about 15 feet away, and the image is about 10 feet diagonally. Pretty impressive for a home theater! We attached our existing speaker system for great sound. Since we mostly watch movies via Amazon, we bought a fire stick to plug in, but we also have a DVD player attached for movies we borrow from the library. Here the kids are watching Odd Squad, a math-themed PBS show that all four kids enjoy.
How to Pick a Great Projector for Your Home for Family Movie Night
I love the projector we picked! I spent a lot of time researching for one that we would enjoy using and that would last for a long time. I wanted one with a bright lumens display (this one is 3300 lumens, and works even in daylight with curtains closed). XGA resolution was the best I could find in our price point (I wanted to stay under $350). Projector lamps are expensive; this one should offer us 10,000 of lamp life so long as we always let the projector cool down before turning it off all the way. This projector has great color accuracy and clear images in home-sized rooms. I wanted an HDMI connection, because that makes it easy to connect a laptop. This projector is also nice and quiet – important when you are watching in a relatively small space.
More Family Movie Night Inspiration
More Great Family Time Ideas
Are you looking to spend more time with your kids? Here are some of our favorite ways to spend time together as a family:
- Read a book together
- Visit a local family-friendly destination together
- Go fly a kite
- Visit a National Park
- Build a puzzle together
- Try these games for mixed-age groups
- Go on a walk together
Do you have a favorite family movie night setup? How about a movie that you think my family would enjoy watching? I want to learn about all of these, as well as your top family time activities. You can share photos as well as suggestions and ideas on my Facebook page, or tag me on Instagram.