How to Create A Family Movie Night Tradition

Family Movie Night Tradition
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“Want to watch a dog movie your mom and I loved when we were kids?” my husband asks with a grin. We move the coffee table away from the couch and lay a yellow checkered picnic blanket over our rug. My preschoolers, Ethan and Anne, sit on the floor with paper plates holding pizza. 

“Yes!” Ethan shouts with such enthusiasm he nearly knocks his slice off his plate. Anne’s blonde curls bounce when she nods, her mouth already full of melty cheese (one of her very favorite foods).

My husband, Nick, starts Lady and the Tramp for Family Movie Night. We perch on the floor behind our children. The introduction music swells, and I close my eyes. I am sitting cross-legged, carpet soft against my calves, next to my sister; we both have smiles stretched ear to ear. What a special night! My parents said yes to a new VHS! The wave of nostalgia washes over me, and I reach over to hold Nick’s hand. His green eyes meet my brown ones, and we both beam.

How We Do Family Movie Night

My family first launched Family Movie Night about six months ago, when my youngest was 2.5 years old. We were inspired by the stories our friends shared, a special time to gather their children, snuggle up and watch a movie, and talk together about what they watched. It sounded magical.

But things didn’t go as planned. Movies were too scary or too uninteresting. On several occasions, we tried to watch a movie but quickly turned it off. “One day,” my husband and I said to one another.  We tried again a few months later and our family loved it!

Now, Family Movie Night is an event in our home about twice per month, and we all look forward to it. Typically this special time falls on Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon. It’s a relaxing way to spend weekend time together. Sometimes we’ll order pizza and have a picnic in the living room. Other times my husband will make fancy popcorn over the stove, and we’ll enjoy the buttery and salty treat while we watch. Family Movie Night is one of the few times we allow ourselves to eat in the living room.

My husband and I curate content for Family Movie Night. It feels important to us to watch good movies together — classics, movies with lessons, movies that make us feel all the feels. We gather recommendations from trusted friends and family members. (Common Sense Media is a great resource as well.) During movies, we’ll pause to talk about characters who were kind / not kind, discuss if what we’re watching is real or pretend, and ask our kids how they’re feeling.

Family Movie Night is a fun way to come together, do something special (and inexpensive), and use screens well!

Tips & Favorite Movies


  • Make it comfortable. Build a fort. Pile all the pillows on the floor. Snuggle under blankets.
  • Be present. Put away other screens. Discuss content in movies as the need arises.
  • Make it special. Let your children choose a candy. Make popcorn. Have a picnic.

Here are some of our family favorites:

  • Cars 1, 2, 3 (Disney+)
  • Toy Story (Disney+)
  • Planes 1, 2 (Disney+)
  • Lady and the Tramp (Disney+)
  • Up (Disney+)
  • Wall-E (Disney+)
  • Sing! (Peacock)
  • Paw Patrol 1, 2 (Paramount)
  • Winnie the Pooh (Disney+)
  • Velveteen Rabbit (Apple+)

Do you have a movie night tradition for your family? If so, what are some of your favorite movies to watch with your kids?