Lights! Camera! Action! Movie Night!

Want to have a fun evening with kids and/or grandkids? Try a movie night. And I don’t mean just pop a DVD in and sit back. I mean plan for it, make it special and offer unique treats.

The best plan is to select a movie everyone will enjoy. That will actually be easier to do if the kids are teens. The younger the children, the more likely the movie will be more appealing to the youth than the adults. To make it more fun, write down acceptable movie titles and place them in a jar for a surprise selection. Or take turns choosing movies from a list. Or choose alphabetically.

Whatever way you employ, make your movie choice. Then a day or two before, begin promoting the night with posters announcing the date, time and location of your feature presentation. The kids can be paid in “play” money for any extra good deeds they perform, which can then be redeemed at the snack bar which will be set up on movie night. The snack bar can have popcorn, drinks, candy, hot dogs, anything a regular movie theater would have. You can even go so far as to get tickets at a party store and give one to each person so they can get into the movie “theater” on your special night.

On movie night, have everyone put on their PJs, gather sleeping bags and pillows and set up a cozy spot in front of the TV. Dim all the lights, turn off all cell phones and roll the film!

What about having a special dinner to coordinate with the movie? If you are watching “Mulan,” eat Chinese food (with chopsticks, of course!). For “Ratatouille,” snack on baguettes and a variety of cheeses. Children may even eat new foods because it seems fun!

Let your kids redeem the well earned “pay” for food at the snack bar set up on the kitchen counter. What a choice they will have with granola bars, candy bars, as well as small baggies full of candy, trail mix, Chex mix, pretzels, etc. facing them. You can also offer juice boxes, bottled water or cans of soda. Of course, it wouldn’t be a movie without popcorn, so be sure to have brown paper bags full of that.Try mixing peanuts, raisins and M&M’s with the popcorn for a little variety. Or try the following recipes for flavored popcorn.

CARAMEL CORN

1 1/2 gallons popcorn (popped)              1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups brown sugar                                   1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter                                                 1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup corn syrup                                      1 1/2 cups peanuts

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

In a medium-sized pan, bring brown sugar, butter and corn syrup to a boil.

Boil gently for 5 minutes without stirring.

Remove the pan from the stove and add the baking soda, salt, vanilla and peanuts.

Pour over the popcorn and mix until popcorn is coated.

Spread the popcorn on greased cookie sheets and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes.

ZESTY POPCORN

5 cups popcorn (popped)                           5 teaspoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning                    1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

3 tablespoons grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

Put the popcorn in a large serving bowl and set aside.

Stir together the butter, Italian seasoning and garlic salt.

Pour the butter mixture over the popcorn and mix well.

Sprinkle with cheese and mix again.

Want to know some fun facts about the movies that you watch? Go to the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com) and click on “Trivia” (under the heading “Fun Stuff”). You’ll learn things like: the airplanes used in “Fly Away Home” were the actual aircraft used by the real-life team to help the geese migrate south!

Another interesting area at Internet Movie Database will give you information about movie bloopers. Check out the “Goofs” section under “Fun Stuff” and you might find where a caveman is wearing a wristwatch or a tattoo disappears mid-movie. Sounds like fun to me!

Maybe after the movie, you can have a discussion where everyone becomes a movie “critic” of sorts. Talk about things like: What was the most memorable part of this movie? What surprised you? Is there another ending you could imagine?

And don’t overlook the special commentary or bonus features of the film. It can be very interesting to learn how the movie was made, why some scenes were deleted, how creatures were developed. It can be educational, surprising and amazing!

Wow, what a great night this would be for the whole family, from grandparents to toddlers! It involves preparation, anticipation, comfy clothes, good food, entertainment, the best company, and bloopers – it can’t get any better!

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