How Does Dinner And A Movie With Friends Work?If you decide that you want to host your own "Film Dining" experience for friends, you may need some help figuring out where to start. Here is the format that I use after several years of hosting and attending these sort of dinner and movie social events. This format has worked quite well for us. Of course, you and your friends may decide to do something differently. I would recommend trying to be flexible to what works best for you and your friend group.
For us, we watch one movie a month. The movies we watch are based on a list that we have put together as a group, but of which I have the final word, since I am the host. The films that we watch are live action films, so no animation. The reason for this is that when I started, I had a friend who was hosting a similar movie night specifically for animated films and we wanted our movie nights to be distinctly different. I would encourage you to pick a general theme for your movie nights. Are you just going to watch family films? Oscar nominated films? Etc. Limiting what types of movies you watch will make the list easier to manage. It also allows a friend to copy you by hosting their own movie nights using a different criteria for their films. We watch our films in chronological order, but we don't watch every movie that makes it on the list. I will go more into that later.
Movie night typically starts at 7pm. Most of the time this is going to be on a Saturday. Occasionally, we may host it on a Friday, but Saturdays tend to be more reliable for our attendance. Guests will often show between 7 and 7:30, with maybe a couple showing up just a little early. I try to have music playing as guests arrive. The music always ties in to either the film itself, or the dinner theme. There are a lot of great Spotify playlists out there that will cover most moods, but sometimes, I will make my own if I can't find something that is doing what I need it to.
Dinner starts at 7:30. The meal is always somehow tied to the film or to a theme connected to the film. Don't be afraid to go a little overboard with your themes. Guests appreciate the effort. Our meal is the primary social time. It should be relaxed and allow people to catch up. We do not serve dessert yet.
Movie begins roughly around 8:30. We like to joke and make a moderate amount of playful commentary during the film, so we put subtitles on to make sure we don't miss anything important. Nothing is more annoying than missing something important because someone was talking, but forcing everyone to be quiet takes a bit of the fun out of the night.
Intermission occurs roughly halfway through the film. As the host, I look up how long the movie is going to be and decide when I want to pause it. I try to get as close as I can to the halfway point of the film without interrupting a scene. During intermission, I bring out the desserts. These are also tied to the theme if possible. Intermission and dessert lasts roughly a half an hour and then we return to the film. A lot of guests will use this time as a restroom break as well.
Typically, the movie will end around 10:30 or so. When that happens, I present everyone with the next few movies on our list, and we decide as a group if we want to watch the next movie that was on the list of if we want to skip some. We may skip a film due to general lack of interest or if it is similar to something we have recently seen. We do not return to a film once we have skipped it. The only exception to this is when a holiday is coming up. Often, I will get off the list temporarily to pick a Halloween or Christmas film for October or December.
After that, I put on some music and the party slowly fades out. I have a fun Spotify playlist that I specifically made just for this. It's built around songs with a central theme of telling people to leave. Haha. It's all in fun of course, but it can help nudge them out the door. You may use it if you like, but be warned that there is explicit language in one or two songs.
Within a day or two of the party, I immediately begin planning the next event. I try to let people know the date of the next movie night as early as I can so that people can begin to plan for it and also to make sure there aren't any major conflicts. I like to set up a Facebook event to manage my invitations and to give my guests updates throughout the month on what I am planning. Always invite more people than you expect to come. Nothing kills a party more than having only one or two guests. In my experience about 20% of the people I invite attend. Despite the fact that I have this event every month, it is not always the same people in attendance. Life plans change for people and old regulars may stop attending so never be afraid to invite new friends. The setting created at this event allows for a great opportunity for people from different social circles of yours to meet and interact. I always allow my guests to bring a plus one as long as they let me know ahead of time. I've never had too many people attend, but even still. It's better to have a full home than an empty one.
I hope you found this helpful. Several years have gone into creating this format, which has worked quite nicely for me and others and has led to some wonderful social events. If you decide to start your own dinner and movie nights, I would love to hear about how well they worked for you. Don't give up if you have a hard time getting started. Once people see how much fun they are and how much effort you are putting into them, more people will start to show.