Watching a film together as a family is a great bonding experience – and is a brilliant, wallet-friendly activity for evenings (or days!) when the weather’s not so hot or no one’s up for much but hanging around in PJs and slippers.


Next time you’re ready for a family movie night, why not give it some extra sparkle by recreating an exciting, real cinema feel in your sitting room? It’s super-easy to do – especially if you use our free downloadable, printable props.

Find some paper, scissors and glue and we’ve got everything else you need to make your own cinema tickets, star-studded cinema sign, stripey popcorn boxes and even special score cards to rate the film. Throw in a few handfuls of corn kernels and, with our healthy popcorn recipe, you can quickly rustle up everyone’s favourite cinema snack, too.

Here’s how to create a magical family movie night at home – in 6 easy steps…

1. Set the scene

cinema sign


Every respectable movie theatre needs a big starry sign, so download and print out our sparkly CINEMA sign and stick it on the wall or maybe on the door, which you can then close to build the suspense till it's time to let everyone in.

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Create somewhere comfy, with cushions and soft, cuddly blankets, for each member of the family to sit. You could even add numbers to your seats to make it feel like a real cinema.

And don't forget to close the curtains, switch off or dim the lights and have a basket or bowl ready for everyone to put their phone/tablet/handheld game console/noisy toy away when it's showtime. You want to set the scene for an excited, anticipated silence and the knowledge that everyone’s going focus on what’s on the screen.

Download the CINEMA sign from our Movie Night Kit

2. Make the popcorn boxes

popcorn box templates

A trip to the cinema just wouldn’t be the same without a box of popcorn and there's no need to do without just because you're staying at home.

We've created some brilliant child-sized popcorn box templates, so all you need to do is download and print one out for each child. We've given you the option of a red-and-white stripey box or a plain stripey one that you could get your child to colour in.

To make them…

  • Cut out the template round the dotted lines
  • Score along the solid lines
  • Fold the 4 sections into a box shape and then fold in the bottom flaps to make a base
  • Glue the flaps firmly into place

Download our Popcorn box templates from our Movie Night Kit

3. Pop the corn

Yes, you can buy ready-made popcorn in the shops but where's the fun in that? Much more magical to make your own popcorn from corn kernels (available in most food shops) and involve the kids in watching and listening to the noisy, pinging, popping fun.

We've found 2 simple, healthy popcorn recipes you can follow: 1 where you make it on the hob and 1 where you use a microwave. For the best results, always use fresh corn kernels (ones that have been lurking at the back of your food cupboard for months may not 'pop' nearly as well).

To make popcorn in a pan on the hob:

  • Put an empty saucepan with a tight-fitting lid on the hob over a medium-high heat for about 2 minutes.
  • Open the lid and add 2 drops of water. If the water sizzles straightaway, your pan is hot enough to pop the corn. If not, keep it on the heat a little longer.
  • Add about 3½ tbsp popcorn kernels to the pan and put the lid straight back on.
  • Shake the pan and keep shaking it regularly (this is a task best left to grown-ups): you should start to hear some satisfying popping sounds after just 1 or 2 minutes.
  • Don't stop shaking the pan until the noise slows down to more than 3 seconds between each pop. As soon as that happens, take the pan off the heat and pour the popcorn into a bowl, ready to divide up into your boxes.
  • Add a little salt or sugar and stir it through. Or, try a little ground cinnamon for a different, super-healthy taste.

To make popcorn in the microwave:

  • Add 50g corn kernels to a brown paper bag
  • Fold the top of the bag over 2 or 3 times to close it and place inside the microwave, folded side down
  • Cook on full power for between 2½ and 3 minutes or use the popcorn setting on your microwave, if it has one.
  • Once the popping slows to around 2 seconds between each sound, stop your microwave.
  • Open the bag extremely carefully (grown-up job, this), as the steam inside can come out very quickly.
  • Once it is cool enough to handle, divide the popcorn up into your popcorn boxes
  • Add a little salt or sugar and stir it through. Or, try a little ground cinnamon for a different, super-healthy taste.

4. Tickets please!

homemade cinema tickets

You've set the scene for your home cinema, so now you can big up the atmosphere even more by giving your children tickets to enter the sitting room and take their seats.

Print out our downloadable cinema tickets and give one to each child.

Stand at the door of the sitting room like a cinema attendant, checking their tickets and tearing off the stub before showing them to their special seat. You could even use the torch function on your mobile phone to light the way in the special dim light you've created!

Download the Cinema tickets from our Movie Night Kit

5. Roll the film!

Press play on the remote and sit back and enjoy! Don't be tempted to leave your children to it; stay and watch the whole film with them – it'll really make a difference to them (even if they don’t show it!) and, as we all know, when you’ve got kids that washing pile never gets any smaller anyway.

Immerse yourself in the moment, smile as your children lose themselves in the movie magic and forget about the outside world – at least until the end credits roll.

6. Give it a star rating

home movie night scorecards

We’ve created some downloadable scorecards, so that everyone in the family can have fun rating the film afterwards and giving it a score out of 5.

Print out several copies of the scorecards and get each person to hold up the star number they think the movie deserves. Have you all scored it the same? Or is there a big difference? Use your star ratings to kickstart a family chat about the film afterwards. It’s a great way for children to learn how to state an opinion – and give reasons why. Older children may even want to write or their own film review or film themselves giving a video review. Who knows, you could have the new Mark Kermode in the house!

Download the Film-rating Scorecards tickets from our Movie Night Kit

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Catherine Ball is a freelance journalist who specialises in writing about parenting and health. She has been a journalist for 20 years, writing for a wide range of regional and national publications.