How to make a winter outdoor cinema: turn your garden into a Christmas grotto

How to make a winter outdoor cinema: turn your garden into a Christmas grotto

Outdoor cinemas have certainly been popular in the last few years, especially at Christmas time but being that this year has been slightly different, why not create your own Christmas cinema at home instead?

The garden is the perfect spot to retreat to and once it’s set up, you use it whenever you want –  plus you’ll get your say on the film of your choice, be able to make as much or as little noise as you want, and it’s the perfect chance to go all out on the decorations and create your own Christmas magic!

Related: Stylist’s tips to create the perfect party background for Zoom Christmas celebrations

How to make your own outdoor cinema for Christmas

So, what do you need to set it up? Aside from the structure and projector – and a heater to keep it warm – you can make it as easy or detailed as you want. Want to find out more? Here’s how we created ours…

Step 1. Invest in a gazebo

Image credit: Wayfair / David Giles

This is the most expensive part, along with the projector, and some of you may already have one, but a gazebo is the structure used here to house the cinema. Yes, it’s a bit of an outlay, but you’ll be able to keep it up and use it in the summer too, so you will get your money’s worth.

When choosing a gazebo, make sure that the one you choose is heavy duty enough that it won’t blow away in the bad weather that winter brings. If it’s too flimsy, it’s likely to blow in the wind, so make sure the sides are heavy enough that they stay secured to the ground – and thick enough that they create a blackout environment, ideal for helping you see your cinema screen clearly in the daytime, as well as at night.

If a gazebo isn’t for you, why not use an outhouse, a garden office or even a garage? Anywhere that you can close the door to the house and leave any mess behind – and create a cocooned space that feels cosy and inviting.

Buy now: Evren 3.5m Steel Patio Gazebo, £409.99, Wayfair

Step 2. Make it Sparkle

reindeer lights

Image credit: Wayfair / David Giles

Christmas is all about that magical twinkle, so go OTT when it comes to fairy lights. String LED  net lights on the ceiling and curtains of fairy light strings down the sides of your winter cinema to make it feel as though you’re under the night sky with sparkling stars overhead.

Add in a few light-up reindeer and twig trees, along with lanterns and you’re almost there – just make sure to use battery-operated LED candles rather than naked flames.

Step 3. Invest in a Projector

projector for outdoor cinema

Image credit: Wayfair / David Giles

Now for the tech! A good projector can be pricey, but again it’s an investment that you can use all year round. It’s important to get the best your money can stretch to as you don’t want to shell out money only to find you have a fuzzy picture. Luckily, most of the latest models are bright enough that you can see even when it’s light.

You’ll want your projector to have around 3000 lumens or more, with built-in Wi-Fi, and you can plug it into your electrics. A projector table is a good ideas as you can wheel it to where you want and it makes sure it’s at the right height and won’t get knocked over – just line it up with your screen, plug in a Firestick or use Wi-Fi to link to your phone and laptop. Voila!

When it comes to your screen, choose a design that you can hook up (cable ties are ideal to secure it to a gazebo frame) or if you want to go all out, a motorised design looks super-swish!

Buy now: Epson EB-W05 3LCD, HD Ready 3300 Lumens Projector, £420, Amazon

Step 4. Add comfy seating

beanbag seat in outdoor cinema

Image credit: Wayfair / David Giles

You’ll probably be watching a film for a few hours and there’s nothing worse than a numb bum. Go for chairs that you can snuggle into and that are comfortable for longer than half an hour. Go for cosy beanbag chairs in a mix of fabrics – velvet , faux fur, quilted and suede-effect to create a cosy, tactile vibe.

Add in some pouffes to use as a side table when you need a spot to put your drink or a mince pie, or on which to rest your legs. Lastly, make sure you’ve got some cuddly throws and cushions so you can enjoy your cinema experience in a truly comfortable spot.

Step 5. Serve popcorn & warming drinks

Image credit: Wayfair / David Giles

Half the fun of a cinema is choosing your snacks, so use a trolley for food and drinks – ones on castors mean you can wheel them to where you want them.  A popcorn machine will make it a true cinema experience, and kids will love them – add some shakers with different sprinkles such as salt, sugar and Christmas spice.

Switch the cold drinks steaming mugs of hot chocolate – these Moscow Mule mugs are ideal, while glass containers are ideal for keeping marshmallows or other toppings! Finally, add cake stands of mince pies and cupcakes, and glass canisters with chocolate chips and candy canes for a truly festive feel.

Step 6. Go for Rugs Underfoot

outdoor rugs

Image credit: Wayfair / David Giles

You don’t want to be reminded you’re in the garden with your lawn or a hard decking, so add in rugs to make it soft underfoot. Outdoor rugs in particular are super practical, and great for adding colour and pattern. Overlap them to create a cinema ‘carpet’ and add in some luxurious faux fur rugs on top for a cosy layered effect.

Step 7. Have fun with decorations

Christmas light box

Image credit: Wayfair / David Giles

Choosing how to decorate your cinema is the fun part. Signs, lightboxes and small quirky accessories will all help you personalise the space, while garlands lit with lights and decorated with baubles help frame your cinema screen nicely.

And whether you use them purely for decoration, or pop presents in to make those movie nights extra special, hanging stockings from the gazebo frame will give your cinema extra Christmas clout.

Gifts don’t have to be expensive either – why not include edible movie snacks, fun fancy dress items or beauty treatments you can use while you’re watching your film?

Step 8. Add heat


Image credit: Wayfair / David Giles

You might be outside in the garden, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be warm. Plug in a heater and the space will be toasty in no time – in fact, as it’s a small space it will warm up in a flash so you may find yourself needing to turn it off from time to time. You could also add in a gas firepit, but be aware you’d need to draw back your gazebo to ensure it was well ventilated.

Step 9. Pick Your Favourite Film

Image credit: Wayfair / David Giles

Lastly, it’s time to enjoy your Christmas cinema, so choose a movie – whether it’s an old classic like It’s a Wonderful Life, a family favourite such as Home Alone, or the new The Christmas Chronicles 2. Then get set to enjoy your Christmas grotto to your heart’s content.

Related: Christmas tree lemonade hack you need to know if you have a real tree!

Happy screening to one and all!


The post How to make a winter outdoor cinema: turn your garden into a Christmas grotto appeared first on Ideal Home.