Disney Family Movie Nights

The best thing that came out of 2020? Our tradition of Disney Family Movie Night! It has been an absolute blast and I wanted to share about what it is, how we plan it, and how we afford it.

What is a Disney Family Movie Night?

Starting in April 2020, when we realized we were going to be homebound much longer than we’d thought, we knew we needed to do something to break up the monotony. My husband and I love Disney and had been taking full advantage of Disney+ for a while. We were talking about how our kids hadn’t seen some of the classics and there were a few even we had missed. It was like a lightbulb went off and we decided to start what we call our Disney Family Movie Nights. (Just about) every Friday night, we stay home, eat a themed dinner, and watch a Disney movie. We chose to start at the beginning with Snow White and as of the time of my writing this, we’re about to watch Treasure Planet.

The level of extravagance is up to you. You can have activities and decorations to go along if you have the time. We started that way and as life opened back up, my capacity to do those things diminished so we scaled back to only a themed dinner and the kids still look forward to it every single week, even well over a year later.

The order you go is up to you! Maybe you have no order. Maybe you watch in reverse theatrical release. Maybe you go deeper than just theatrical release and watch the entire Disney canon. The options are basically endless.

How do you plan it?

Repeat after me. Pinterest is your friend. Don’t reinvent the entire wheel if you don’t have to, especially if you’ve never seen the movie and have no point of reference. Search for “__________ family movie night” and you’ll see a ton of ideas! If none of those results pique your interest, try “____________ party food” or “____________ dinner.” Then look at all the ideas and decide which direction you want to go. You can try to make food that you see in the movie (like grey stuff cupcakes), be inspired by the part of the world the movie is set in (hawaiian food for Lilo and Stitch), or take character names and make fun alterations (like Baloo’s Berries). We typically do a main dish, a side or two, and a dessert. The dessert is almost always themed, fun, and a treat since we don’t always have one during the week.

How do you afford it?

I’m including this section because the cost is something that made me put it off for a few weeks. After looking on Pinterest, I was sure that we were going to have to add to our grocery budget to fit in all of the things I was seeing. Turns out, that’s not the case at all!

You can make this fit in whatever your budget it. Of course you can go all out and make an extravagant meal every week, but you can also find smart ways to fit it in. Here are a few ways I work it into our budget:

  • Use what we’ve already got– I’ll look in our fridge/freezer/pantry and figure out what we’ve already got that I can get creative with.
  • Use things you’ll use another way- If a recipe calls for a little bit of a really expensive ingredient you’ll never use, maybe it’s best to find another recipe, find an alternative ingredient, or omit it altogether. Use things your family normally eats and put them together in fun, themed ways.
  • If you’re making something big (like a big batch of dessert), think of somewhere else you can use them– For Lilo & Stitch I made a batch of 24 pineapple upside down cupcakes… we needed 5. But it was July 4th weekend and we had two different cookouts planned, so I knew I could take the other 19 to those two parties. It counted as my entire contribution to one of them and I took whatever was leftover along with something else to the second. Doing that saved money of having to buy stuff to make/take to the parties.

I hope something about this post has sparked something inside you that will start this in your family. It’s so important to have one night a week dedicated to just your immediate family. No friends, no extended family, just you and your kids. Have we been perfect? NO WAY! We’ve had several movie Saturday mornings and skipped weeks altogether. But the majority of our Fridays the 15 months have consisted of us sitting and watching a movie together with zero phones or distractions and they’re the sweetest memories. Worth every second of planning and every penny spent.

Let me know in the comments— What’s your favorite Disney movie that you’d love to have a movie night to watch?