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How to Set Up a Movie Night Popcorn Bar

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There’s a slight chill in the air, and our family night activities are starting to shift from outdoors to back inside. One thing we LOVE to do as a group is watch a movie, especially on Friday night when Mom and Dad and too tired to devout much energy to anything else. I’m sure you can relate.

When it comes to convincing my older boys that they should dedicate their Friday night to hanging out with their parents, the task is always a little easier when there’s the promise of good food on the table. Sometimes we do dinner and a movie, and other times it’s just a bowl of popcorn on the couch. What they really love though is when I set up a DIY popcorn bar for them to customize their own sweet and/or savoury snack creations. We can have a lot of fun trying to see who can come up with the best flavor combo, something I’ve yet to win, as I tend to skip the candy and add healthier options like dark chocolate chunks, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries and toasted coconut or almonds to my popcorn bag (totally tasty, I promise!).

Here’s how we set it up:

(For 4-16 people)

You’ll need:

  • 12 cups air-popped popcorn (buttered and salted or plain)
  • A variety of candy, chocolate, nutty, healthy, herby and cheesy toppings
  • Scoops or spoons
  • Small paper bags

Set up:

  • Place cooled popcorn into a large bowl or serving vessel in the middle of a table or counter and surround it with small bowls or ramekins filled with assorted toppings.
  • Put a scoop or spoon into each bowl and set out some small paper bags.
  • Invite the kids (or your friends) to build their own bag of customized popcorn.

One of my boys might declare himself a candy connoisseur, so he likes to add fruity flavoured treats to his popcorn, while the other is all about the chocolate, so his bags looks a little different. Sometimes we skip the candy altogether, and set out parmesan cheese, dried herbs and spices to see what varieties we can come up with (my middle son is on a quest to make a barbecue spice and parmesan combo). While we just do this with the kids, I think it would be really fun to incorporate a similar activity when you’re watching Sunday afternoon football, Super Bowl or awards season shows. In my experience, a DIY anything is pretty much guaranteed to win you the affections of your guests (or your kids), and from the perspective of the host it’s so much easier to assemble food than to cook it.

So tell me, what movies are your kids totally into these days? My family has been working hard to compile our list of the 50 best movies for families (it’s so much harder than it sounds) and I’d love to know which titles you’d add to your list.

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