Movie night with friends is as easy as home entertaining gets. You do not need invites, costumes, or themed decorations. You do not need to roast a duck. You do not need a signature cocktail. You do not need a hashtag.
What you do need are three things: friends, a movie, and a place to watch the movie with some kind of movie-watching device. Well, four things, really, because you also need snacks. And drinks. Okay, that's technically five.
The point is, it is a very low-effort, high-satisfaction enterprise. (If you did want to roast a duck, though, I'm sure it would be appreciated.)
But, like a Boy Scout, I believe in preparation (even if it is minimal) because the ultimate result will be more fun, and also people will praise you, which is really all I want from life.
1. Pick a movie.
This is basic, but bears repeating anyway: Pick a movie. Just pick one. Any one. Whatever it is, it will be better than sitting around in a group and scrolling through Netflix until inspiration strikes.
The problem, in my experience, is that if you don't pick something in advance, you will either end up watching no movies at all (which is fine, but then it is not a movie night), or you will settle on something that is safe because everyone has already seen it. This is also fine!
New experiences are great, though. I heartily endorse them. There is a whole world of cinema out there! There are reviews of most of it! Take a chance. Live on the edge. And pick a movie.
A few good movies to try: 10 of the Best Movies to Watch on a Date Night In with Friends
2. Do some research.
I have read a lot of articles that suggest you should enhance your movie nights by inventing games, or writing intense movie-themed trivia. I suppose you could do these things. Maybe it would be great! The future is unpredictable. In general, though, I am wary of forced fun activities, and would strongly advocate against them.
I am, however, always delighted when people share esoteric facts about Hollywood. Did anyone die in the filming of this movie? Were there any lesser-known scandals? These are good things to know going in, I think. Your friends will appreciate it.
3. Have enough seating.
It should not be a surprise that people are coming over, because you invited them. Have a plan. Bring in some chairs, or floor pillows, or decorative ottomans. Comfort is important. Cuddles should be a choice — not a necessary result of spatial limitations.
4. Take your snacks seriously.
If you are going to go all out on anything, go all out on snacks.
Should you have a theme? Maybe! Movie-related foods can be a lot of fun — I mean, if you are going to watch Mystic Pizza, it seems pretty clear to me you ought to eat pizza — but if your film of choice does not lend itself to thematic snacks, you can always default to my favorite theme: "carbohydrates."
Finger foods are ideal, as are foods that can safely be eaten off a plate in someone's lap. You can't go wrong with popcorn; it's not boring, it's classic. Homemade snacks raise the bar, but there is no shame in takeout. It is a decadent perk of modernity, having food delivered to you, and you should enjoy it.
Related: Napkins are critical, especially if you like your couch.
5. Provide drinks with and without alcohol.
Drinks are a wonderland of possibility. Wine pairs well with all movies, although it is also good to have at least one festive non-alcoholic option, for non-drinkers, drivers, thirsty people, and people who get sleepy. My personal preference is seltzer, although fancy ginger beers with the sediment in the bottom are welcome, too.
Do tell: what are your favorite movie night snacks, drinks, and other important items of interest?