What could be better on a crisp night than curling up on the couch with a soft throw, a bowl of popcorn (or perhaps a glass of wine) and a great movie? Avoid the crowds at the theater, save a little cash and embrace the simple pleasure of movie night at home. Whether you keep it spontaneous or start a film club complete with movie-themed snacks (blini and vodka for Dr. Zhivago, anyone?), let these ideas inspire your next movie night at home.

Related: How to Host an Award-Winning Oscar Party

 Boehm Architecture, original photo on Houzz

Learn to pick a good movie. If you already have a lineup of films you want to see, great! If not, or if you’ve been disappointed with your latest picks, it’s time to do some research. There are a bunch of great online resources for film reviews — for starters, try The New York Times’DVD reviews, IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic, a site that compares reviews by top critics. Or, if you have a friend with similar tastes in films, asking for personal recommendations can be a good way to go.

Consider following a theme — or even start a film club. Pretend you’re in film school and watch a batch of movies in the same category. Create a lineup of French or Italian films, for instance, or work your way through the entire Hitchcock catalog. If you have a group of friends you’d love to connect with more often, a film club can be a low-key way to keep up. It’s less work than a book club, and the potential for food and cocktail pairings with movies can keep the events lively. Just remember to take turns picking!

JayJeffers, original photo on Houzz

Do a little research before choosing a film for kids, too. Simply checking the rating is often not enough to really know whether or not a movie is an appropriate choice for your child. Before choosing a film for kids, check out Common Sense Media, a site run by a not-for-profit company that offers age-based ratings and reviews of movies and TV shows. The reviews cover things like positive role models and messages, and specific language and images to watch out for.

Get comfy and cozy.Thankfully, movie night does not require a perfectly clean home to be enjoyable (the lights are off anyway), but attending to a few comforts will ensure the best possible experience. Clear off the coffee table and couch, plump the pillows, bring in a blanket for snuggling under and dim the lights.

Related: Find Light Dimmers and Other Lighting Accessories

If you are hosting a group for movie night and some people must sit on floor, that’s OK. But do provide plenty of extra cushions and blankets so people can get comfy — and of course, as the host, you should be the one to take a floor seat first.

Mosaik Design & Remodeling, original photo on Houzz

Make some simple homemade snacks. Do you have an air popper? If you love popcorn and don’t yet have one, think about getting one of these handy little appliances. Most are reasonably priced, and they allow you to whip up fresh popcorn that tastes far superior to the microwavable kind. Of course, being at home opens up tons of other snack possibilities, and it can be fun to indulge in a treat that you couldn’t buy in a movie theater. Why not serve a cheese plate, cocktails (or mocktails) or ice cream sundaes?

Make sure your screen is positioned properly. Another advantage over the theater is that no one should have to strain their neck watching a movie at home.

Related: Position Your Screen Perfectly on One of These TV Stands

Take a moment to sit in every seat in the movie-watching space, and check that you do not have to twist to the side or look up to get a good view of the screen. If you have to look up to see the screen, either move the TV to a lower position or move the seating farther away.

 Hoi Ning Wong, original photo on Houzz

Consider a projector. If you don’t have (and don’t particularly want) a big flat-screen TV taking up a wall of your living space, why not think about getting a screen and digital projector instead? The screen can be rolled out of sight when not in use, and any blank wall can be turned into a massive movie-watching surface.

Start a post-movie ritual.There’s something about the end of a movie that can be a bit melancholy-inducing. When the credits roll, instead of hustling everyone out the door (or into bed), take a few minutes to dish on the film afterwards. It can also be helpful to have a “unicorn chaser” ready after dark or dramatic movies. I have a friend whose tradition is to serve coffee and cake after a movie — sounds good to me!

 John Kraemer & Sons, original photo on Houzz

Keep film notes. Note actors, directors and producers you like, so you can look up their other work when another movie night comes around. A list of films you love is also helpful to refer to when a friend asks you for movie recommendations.

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