Motherhood

A Fun Idea for Movie Nights

The Best Idea for Movie Night

Do you watch movies as a family? My friend Erin Jang (of Trader Joe’s fame) is a genius at creating special moments and she came up with an easy way to take their monthly movie night up a notch…

The Best Idea for Movie Night

Erin and her family watch movies together once a month — and it has to be simple. “On Friday evening, during the last ten minutes of work, I’m always like, what are we doing tonight? What are we eating?

After reading The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Miles had mentioned that his favorite part of the book was the feast — including chicken, cider and carrots. So, Erin decided to pull together that exact meal while they watched the movie.

She printed out an invitation that read, “Chicken, carrots & cider from Boggis, Bunce & Bean” (actually: “from Seamless, the back of the fridge bin and the bodega downstairs that had one apple juice left!” says Erin).

Erin Jang and Miles

How sweet is that? And so easy. “Growing up in an immigrant family, my parents worked really hard and showed their love in other ways,” Erin says. “Now as an adult myself, I’m grateful to get the chance to create these kinds of special moments with my kids.”

Erin has only one last question: “We’re reading Charlotte’s Web right now, and I want to think of something fun for that. Although what do we eat… bacon?”

P.S. An ode to rituals, and what movies do you watch with kids?

(Personal photos courtesy of Erin Jang.)

  1. Andrea says...

    A little late to the party, but just wanted to mention the book The Cricket in Times Square. My favorite parts are when Mario visits Chinatown (you could do Chinese take-out), and when Chester, Harry, and Tucker have a party in the newsstand (have sandwiches, soda with ice! and a piece

  2. KimS says...

    Erin should next read: redwall by brian jacque…a wonderful series and lots of good food ideas! I highly recommend this book ( and series!)

  3. Meg says...

    Miles’ smile is THE BEST.

    Just a testimonial to show you don’t need kids for this, just embrace your inner goof. My husband and I have been doing a version of this for years. When Outlander came on, he made cottage pie. When we watched Godfather, spaghetti and meatballs. On the night of Obama’s last state of the union address, Hawaiian Pizza (we call it Pizza Obama in honor of the first president to be from there). Etc. We’ve never had invitations though! I’m gonna knock his socks off next time!

  4. Mostly just dead over how freaking adorable Miles is with that little closed-mouth smile.

  5. Vaish says...

    This is so amazing! I love this! When I think of Charlotte’s Web I always think of Templeton & smorgasbords!! Fair food would be so fun – corn on the cob & apple cider doughnuts from the local doughnut shop!

  6. Caitlyn says...

    Charlotte’s Web = smorgasbords! YUM!

    • Natalia Rankine-Galloway says...

      YES! my thought exactly!
      A fair is a veritable smorgasbord orgasbord orgasbord!

  7. Kacie says...

    For Charlottes web I would do old school fair food/ corn on the cob candy apples maybe some kind of berry pie …

    When the kids are older i hope she does a Harry Potter feast

  8. Such a special idea! A true reminder of how we can take something routine and simple and create a spin on it. Food, family, fun!

  9. janine says...

    The golden ticket idea reminds me of a cute thing my son did – he took the golden ticket that came with his copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and wrote on the back of it “To Dad, as a Kid” and gave it to my husband. I think he wanted him to somehow have the golden ticket, but back when he was still a kid.

    • That is utterly adorable!!!!!

  10. beks says...

    We have Walking Dead night and use it to eat up an older canned goods :)

  11. Nina says...

    yes fair food and make the invite like a corn on the cob.

  12. Jen D. says...

    Love this idea, it’s brilliant!!

    For Charlotte’s Web, you could do fair food (remember Templeton gorging himself on the fair food leavings??) like corn dogs and popcorn and such.

  13. Jamie says...

    Make Templeton’s Smorgasbord! All kinds of fun fair food. Sweet idea for kids of all ages ;)

  14. Heather says...

    I’d go with fair food for Charlotte’s Web. Pin a red and white sash around your table and serve up some good ol’ county fair goodies!

  15. Since the end involves a county fair, I suggest funnel cake and lemonade and hot dogs or fried chicken!

  16. Jill S. says...

    What a sweet wonderful idea! Also, for Charlottles Web, I forget the rats name but you could have a smorgasbord. Probably not of garbage, but…

    I learned that word from the movie when I was little,p. I remember being so intrigued…he is eating a smorgasboard? Is that a type of wood?

  17. Kat says...

    This is great! My sister and her husband host a movie night once a month called “Classic Wednesdays”. They choose a classic movie (it has to have been made before you were born). They take turns to design a cocktail and dinner menu inspired by the movie, and invite a bunch of friends. So fun!

    • Amanda says...

      I love this!

  18. Caroline says...

    Love this so much!
    Idea for Charlotte’s Web movie night—inspired by the rat’s song about the fair being a smorgasbord. I haven’t seen the movie since I was a kid, but I remember that scene and that song. You could eat a bunch or fun random things. He (the rat) seems to like cheese, pickles, condiments, cotton candy, etc. but you could make up your own.
    Also sorry if this has been suggested already a million times above—I don’t have time to read through all the comments! :-)

  19. Love this! I’ll never forget reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in second grade leading up to watching the movie in class and having a dessert potluck where every student got to bring something they would add to the chocolate factory. I remember the anticipation and excitement more than I remember watching the actual movie that day. It’s the little touches that children remember fondly later. I haven’t read Charlotte’s Web in a while but what immediately comes to mind is anything you would find at a county fair in the summer.

  20. How about food you would find at a fair!? Corn dogs and churros sound deelish!

  21. molly says...

    So sweet!! For Charlotte’s Web style dinner, I think I’d do fair food — since the author describes it in so much detail when Templeton gorges;) xo

  22. Candice says...

    My son’s class had a farm breakfast picnic after reading Charlotte’s web and dressed up in farmer clothes.

  23. You could always create a “slop” that the animals eat as a stew! And then cotton candy for a spider’s web??

  24. This is such a wonderful and sweet idea! I gotta hand it to all you moms for still having the energy to be thoughtful and creative after long days working. I’ve been trying to coordinate movie nights, but it always seems like I’m working late and just want to flub in bed. I designed the wording on my wedding invitation based on Wonka’s Golden Ticket (to see it: https://www.shessobright.com/2017/07/17/designing-my-wedding-invitations/). We changed all the language to sound like the original wording. Such fun!

    P.S. I’m planning to watch the Amy Winehouse bio tomorrow, whether my hubs wants to or not!

    Eva | http://www.shessobright.com

  25. mikaela says...

    For Charlottes’s Web, why not have a little extra fun with a Templeton at the state fair menu, fun carnival foods like popped kettle corn, corn dogs, etc. I remember that being both a playful part of the story and a mini lesson in the thrills & dangers of excess.

  26. Kile says...

    Last year I planned a dinner/movie combo for my kids. It was a Polynesian-ish pineapple pork recipe. I must have over sold it, though, because my kids thought the “surprise” was that we were going to Hawaii…Moana was a bit of a let down after that.

    • Stephanie says...

      Haha! This is my life.

    • Hilarious!

  27. Susan Magnolia says...

    I love Erin Jang’s work. She is an amazing graphic designer! My daughter and I just watched Winnie the Pooh and Alice in Wonderland and I want to have a tea party with honey and fresh bread.

  28. Cheryl says...

    For Charlotte’s Web stretch out a fake cobweb in the corner of his room and dangle down the invitation from it. And for the menu just have food a pig would eat! Corn on the cob, baked beans, coleslaw. And for the movie set up picnic blanket on the floor and a galvanized bucket of popcorn!

  29. JulieB says...

    We read Charlotte’s Web when my daughter was little. She just couldn’t understand why Wilbur didn’t want to be bacon. To this day, she’ll still tell you that her favorite color is pink “because pigs are pink and bacon comes from pigs!”

  30. kate says...

    What a good reminder that kids are so awed by things that really take little effort. I will always remember one night when my dad was out of town, after my brother and I had gone to bed, my mom came back into our rooms and said “who wants to be a dirty stay-up?” And we got to get back out of bed and we had popcorn and pink lemonade and watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Now as an adult I imagine she must have been sitting alone in the quiet house and it was a treat for her too. But it seemed like such an exciting, grown-up thing to get to do! I love these reminders to remember some of that childlike wonder, even though I’m not a mom.

    • Amber says...

      This is so sweet! Thanks for sharing. <3

  31. Emily says...

    This is the sweetest, coolest thing ever! I love it!

  32. Rose says...

    I’m the oldest of 6 children, and I have many fond memories of movie nights in our house. Our dad would get all the ingredients from the store to make HUGE batches of popcorn, trail mix (with lots of extra M&M’s), and homemade cherry limeades. I remember sitting on our counter “helping” him make everything and feeling so important and special. Looking back now as a working mom of 1 child, I can’t imagine how exhausted my parents were working and raising 6 kids, and I know money was constantly tight. I think it is beautiful how hard they worked to make life magical for us. When I told my dad this recently, he smiled his twinkly smile and said “Well sweetie, it’s just a reminder that you don’t have to have a lot of money or time to live a magical life- you just have to make magic where you can”.

    • K says...

      Aw, he sounds like a wonderful dad!

    • Laura says...

      Lovely.

    • Lindsey says...

      This made me ache for my dad. Such a special story!

    • Vi says...

      This is so sweet and made me tear up :’) Thanks for sharing!

    • A. says...

      oooohhhh I love that! It’s awesome!

  33. edie says...

    makes me think of Mindy Kaling’s movie-watching party that was “You’ve Got Mail” themed.

  34. Lee says...

    For Charlotte’s Web have a country style dinner pig out! Have corn on the cob or cornbread, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, the works! As for a way to “invite” the kids, I’d get those cheap spider rings and some silly string. Wrap the ring around the can and add a note that reads, “Let’s get silly (string) and pig out, y’all. Mosey on down to the couch tonight for a viewing of Charlotte’s Web!”

  35. Heather says...

    So fun and special! I love Charlotte’s Web. For some reason, I always associate breakfast with the book (What? Why? Maybe because as a kid it always felt like they were waking up early to work on the farm). So I would lean toward breakfast for dinner. I vote No to the bacon, but that might just be me.

    Totally using this idea for when my kids get older… and using it to justify my craft supply hoarding as well :)

  36. I would say ear fair food like pie! Maybe make the invitation have a spiderweb design.
    This is so sweet! I love the idea of reading a book then having the associated movie night!

  37. Sasha says...

    I don’t have kids, but I am totally going to steal this idea for a grown-up movie/TV nights with friends. A few years we had a Game of Thrones premiere watching party where we made Game of Thrones themed cocktails beforehand. So much fun!

    • Addie says...

      I was going to add this as a general comment, but thought replying to your comment would work!

      Binging with Babish- a youtube channel from a home chef who mainly demonstrates how to cook recipes made famous by shows, movies, literature, etc- is simply awesome! You’ll get a ton of ideas from him. Everything he makes looks mouthwatering.

  38. becs says...

    Don’t feed them bacon, hahaha! I actually have a story about that…

    A couple years ago, I took my then-three-year-old to a local historic farm museum for their annual harvest festival. We ate freshly churned ice cream, cherries straight from the orchard; it was so good! Then we came to the sausage samples offered from a pig being spit-roasted in front of our very eyes. I couldn’t figure out why my son declined, until on the ride home, I heard a quiet voice from the back seat: “Mommy, we watched Charlotte’s Web at preschool last week…”

    Whoops!!

  39. London says...

    Erin: Cookies with spiderweb design or Dirt cups! (jello pudding with oreos and gummy worms)

  40. Lauren says...

    Movie picnic! My kids only get a little screen time on the weekends (Friday night through Sunday noon) and when I am totally exhausted at the end of a long week, and particularly if my husband is away, I throw a blanket on the floor, cut up veggies like carrots, pepper and cucumbers, and then either do a quick pizza, veggie quesadillas, or grilled cheese. The kids think that eating away from the table AND getting to watch something is absolutely the best. It’s such an easy way to turn a night with lots of meltdown potential (from both me and the kids!) into a fun, chill night. Sometimes they get a whole movie, sometimes it’s just an episode of Mr. Rogers (thanks, Amazon Prime!).

    • We do movie picnics, too, for all the same reasons! We turn into the Coolest Parents Ever for a night (“You mean we get to eat here? On the FLOOR?!”). ;)

  41. Laura says...

    Ooh a Dr. Seuss movie night would be fun too! There’s a few of those movies out, but the “required wear” could just be wacky, colorful wardrobe and green eggs & ham could be the snack! I’m getting way too excited about this.

    • Laura says...

      and the invitation could rhyme!

  42. Love this idea! For ‘Charlotte’s Web” the schmorgasboard-orgasboard scene of course! In the clip, Templeton is eating cheese, apples, sandwiches, and cannned stuff. You could just go with a fair food theme.

    • Marissa says...

      Great idea!

  43. Brooke Dainty says...

    My boyfriend and I do this for each other when regular movie nights get stale. We use it as an opportunity to show each other our personal favorite movies and get the other one excited about it. When it’s your turn to host movie night, you pick the movie and make/buy a themed snack and cocktail. We set up the guest room like a fort and put a sign on the door with the show time. It makes movie night feel WAY more special and like a real date.

    • Heather says...

      Love this idea and tucking it away for our next date night in!

  44. Stephanie says...

    My kids are older and I am “making” them watch the original Overboard 🛳 💦 with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russel. (They absolutely do not want any part of it but I don’t care. 😜) suggestions for my feast?! 😂😂😂

    • Amanda G says...

      The only foods that come to mind from that movie are pie to the face (from a plate superglued to the hand of course) and lots of beer haha. That’s a tough one!

    • heather says...

      Overboard is my husband’s all-time favorite movie from his childhood so I asked him because he would know for sure… he said PB sandwiches with m&m’s inside. I don’t know anyone that wouldn’t like that… no matter the age!! haha

    • Trish O says...

      A pie glued to your hand? I love that movie.

    • Ali says...

      Yes! Your chocolate cream pie?!?!

      I agree that you should ‘make’ your kids watch it. Such a fun movie.

    • Another Heather says...

      That is my husband’s family’s favorite movie, too! So good.

  45. Stephanie says...

    This is fantastic and so very special. He will remember these movie moments forever!

    Farm and state fair theme for Charlotte’s web! Fried Chicken, corn on the cob, and Peach Pie. So fun!

    XOXO

    • Janine says...

      Totally! You could even do a fun recreation of Templeton’s garbage feast.

  46. Kelly says...

    How wonderful! So heartwarming and thoughtful. I’ll see what ideas that I can come up with!

  47. Nicole says...

    I have an idea for Charlotte’s web.

    If the kiddos like something creative, thin wispy freshly grated cheese (against a backdrop like spinach or arugula) can look like spider webs!

  48. Abesha1 says...

    Re Charlotte’s Web: rotten eggs. Haha! (Really, I’d just scramble some eggs. But haha!)

  49. Katie Murray says...

    This is such a creative sweet idea!

    Maybe add a spider web design to top of a cheesecake? Easy to do and can add in a mini toy spider!

  50. Lisa says...

    What age do people start doing movie nights with their children? We’re trying to avoid electronics as much as possible with ours. My son is two and doesn’t watch videos etc, but I love the idea of movie nights when he’s older

    • Kate says...

      Curious to know this too! I don’t think my three year old could sit through a whole movie, and he’d immediately start begging for terrible cartoons his friends talk about in school. (Paw Patrol, I’m side-eyeing you…)

    • Rae says...

      We also keep screen time to a minimum (for ourselves as well as the littles) and I think it makes movie nights all the more special. We began at age 5 and started with Our Neighbor Totoro — such a sweet, creative, and beautiful movie!

    • Louisa says...

      My daughter (age 3 1/2) isn’t into movies – I searched out the ones recommended by CommonSense Media but even those were too intense for her. But she loves nature documentaries. Especially ones with penguins.

    • Paisley says...

      This makes me want a post on the best video/cartoons/movies that are toddler appropriate. I watched my friend’s 3 year old over the course of several weeks and he was glued to the screen (he watches pre-dawn while mom sleeps, which sounds terrible but she is a working single mom who is otherwise a wonderful parent), watching favorite animated features over and over: Totoro, monsters, inc,big hero 6, the lego movie, yeech, and Home and I couldn’t help but wonder if there were other, better things he could watch. Like the Planet Earth series, not sure if he would enjoy that so young but seems like a good one for toddlers? I don’t know anything about kids, though. Any suggestions? Thx!

    • My children are 5, 7 and 10–I think we started doing them when she was four or five (it was a way for all of us to be cozy as a very tired family while still managing an infant and young toddler–I remember our middle child sitting in one of those travel tray-table chairs on the floor to eat her “picnic.”). I just love that something so simple (and, inexpensive) can be such a treat for them (and now that my girls are older “we’re having a family movie night!” is such a happy excuse for “Oh, crud–I forgot to invite your friends for that playdate you keep asking me about.” Ha!).

  51. Nikki B says...

    I teach third grade and we do this with all our read aloud books too!

    Here’s the books we do and the snacks along with it!:

    James and the Giant Peach- Peaches obviously, but all different kinds. (Parents brought in peach deserts and we got canned peaches).

    Charlotte’s Web- Trash cereal in trough like lunch containers (each kid bought a cereal and we mixed them together to be “trash”)
    https://www.ecoproductsstore.com/renewable-and-compostable-2lb-food-trays-kraft-green-leaf-print-design.html

    Because of Winn Dixie- We mimicked the party she has at the end, complete with the egg salad sandwiches and dump punch.

    The One and Only Ivan- Banana Pudding obviously.

    Drita is My Homegirl- A Byrek from Kosovo where Drita is from (http://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/albanian-byrek-4880).

    Series of Unfortunate Events Book 1- Pasta puttanesca which the kids make in the book.

    The kids LOVE this and get really excited for our end of book parties. It’s one of the most “highly anticipated” parts of third grade.

    • Kathy says...

      You are such a great teacher! My kids would die for this

    • Vicki says...

      Haha! When you mentioned Ivan, I knew it had to be bananas! My kids love that book, but it makes me cry!
      For Charlotte’s Web,
      I was thinking of Templeton’s feast, but maybe that wouldn’t make such an appetizing dinner!

    • Ann says...

      I am a third grade teacher too, and we’ve done a few book parties. These are great! My favourite we’ve done so far is ‘Harriet the Spy’ where we all wear rain coats, bring magnifying glasses, and decorate composition notebooks. We also eat tomato sandwiches and chocolate cake with milk. We’re reading ‘The One and Only Ivan’ right now, so I’ll be needing some banana pudding recipes!

    • Claire says...

      Where do you teach? I want to send my son to you :)

  52. Kim says...

    Friday family movie night is a solid tradition at our house. It got trickier as my girls got older (they’re 7and 12 now), with different movie interests. So now we rotate whose choice the movie is and my husband and I get turns, too. I’ve been picking movies I grew up with, which the girls complain about every. single. time. but then end up loving. Dinner before the movie is always a popcorn feast. We have a huge bowl of popcorn with cheeses and fruit. Everyone scoops out their own small bowl of popcorn and adds seasonings like rogan josh, za’atar, cinnamon-sugar, and smoked salt. We all look forward to it every week.

    • Stephanie says...

      Love this!

  53. Lindsay says...

    So sweet! We do movie nights often but I usually just make popcorn with extra butter.

    I’ll have to think a bit brighter and see what I can come up with!

  54. Je says...

    The concept that someone would have old chocolate bar in their kitchen drawer cracks me up. Never would a chocolate bar escape being hunted in my house.

    • Sarah L Thomas says...

      Ha! That’s exactly what I thought too! There would never be an old chocolate bar in my house. No chocolates lasts more then a week in my house.

    • Joanna says...

      A week!?!
      Never!
      I wish I had one now somewhere in the house…

    • Amy says...

      Most definitely my first thought too 😂

    • Yep, me, too!

    • Lisa says...

      My (soon to be) mother in law sends sweets for Christmas, Easter and the Birthdays. But my boyfriend does hardly eat any chocolate and I don,’t eat very much, either. I would love to share aaaaall the chocolate and cookies with all of you before it gets old and I have to throw it out :( (Although I imagine we’d never have that problem if we had kids… :) )

  55. Finn says...

    A sweet idea! I also loved the feast part of any book or film as a child. I wonder what that’s about.
    The bacon comment reminds me of when I was in third grade, and our teacher was reading Charlotte’s Web to us. We had just finished the book when I had a sleepover at my best friend’s house. We were midway through our pork dinner when she jokingly whispered “It’s Wilbur.” I immediately threw up and couldn’t stop, and eventually had to be picked up by my parents. I’m a vegetarian now :)

  56. Marni says...

    Spider web spaghetti!

  57. Anna says...

    You could do a themed day/dinner after reading a book, too! After reading “Wacky Wednesday” by Dr. Seuss as a child, my brothers and I came downstairs on a Wednesday to find our parents made our house ‘wacky!’ They hung clothes off the ceiling fan and served breakfast for dinner (I was homeschooled, so I’m sure they did wacky things throughout the day, too). That was years ago and I still remember how excited I was and how I always hoped for another Wacky Wednesday. I mentioned it to my mom recently and I think she had forgotten about it. Again, it’s the simple things that stand out to kids and make an impression on them for a lifetime.

  58. Marissa says...

    This reminds me of when I was growing up. We had something called “Saturday Night Special” where my mother would take me and my sister to the local movie store (who else misses those?!) and we picked one movie, and she picked one movie. We would make the same graham cracker crust pie and then watch the movies together. It was a great way of my mom exposing us to films that she thought we should see, while compromising and letting us make a choice for the first movie.

  59. Claire says...

    Even though our son is now 16, we still do taco night on the floor in front of a movie or tv show once in a while, in our pajamas. Agents of Shield, Game of Thrones, Sherlock…. Such a nice way to spend an evening, especially after a busy work week.

  60. Claire says...

    Wow, that little boy is darling! And for Charlotte’s Web- it’s been a while since we read it, but isn’t pie part of the story? And doesn’t Fern eat pancakes at some point?

  61. Tory says...

    I love this idea! My husband is obsessed with Fantastic Mr Fox.

    My only critique is that Bunce doesn’t do carrots… he does ducks and goose but he only eats donuts!

  62. Lindsay says...

    You can make it even easier by skipping the invitation! After we read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I made cabbage soup (it was actually delicious, thanks Bon Appetit) and had a selection of fancy chocolate bars (that i had already found on clearance). Still magical, even less work!

  63. Jennifer P says...

    Erin,

    In the book the characters go out to the state fair. You could host a dinner that’s all about fair food: hot dogs, fried Twinkies, sickeningly sweet lemonade. Yum!

  64. jules says...

    Coolest mom ever!

  65. Erin says...

    We’ve read Charlotte’s Web 10 times now, and I think the description of Wilbur’s trough would be so fun: milk and mashed potatoes and cold noodles and lettuce…Even more fun if you put them all in a trough-like container. EVEN MORE FUN if you don’t use silverware. (Nervous laughter.)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahaha

  66. Jamie White-Farnham says...

    I love this and did a similar thing this past Christmas for my girls (a bit older) with It’s a Wonderful Life, which we all love and save to watch at just the right time during Christmas time. I made bingo cards with various quotes (“She’s just about to close up the Library!”) and other things that appear in the movie, like “old-timey car horn” or “light sexism,” which made my girls laugh. Fun way to spice up an old favorite.

    • Stephanie says...

      This a cute idea. Thank you.

  67. Ramona says...

    I love that they are reading the books first before watching the movies. The special movie nights are like a way to bring the book to life all over again (but only after the child has first brought it to life with his imagination). Definitely screen time done right!

    FYI there’s a book called Turkish Delight and Treasure Hunts by Jane Brocket that has recipes for different foods from classic children’s books.

    • Teresa says...

      There’s also a book called Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books by Cara Nicoletti that has recipes inspired by her favorite books accompanied by a brief story about why that book was meaningful. As a librarian who loves food, I really enjoyed it!

    • Amy says...

      Thank you for that title! I’ve added it to my wishlist!!

  68. kelly libby says...

    That might be the VERY cutest child I’ve ever seen. I already love him!!

  69. Alyssa says...

    This is such a fun idea! I love the thought of theming a movie to the food, even for friends instead of kids! Each year, my girlfriends and I have a Galentine’s Day party and our first year, we watched the finale of Gilmore Girls. I made Dessert Sushi (from one of the early episodes) which was a fun twist.

    Also, have never read Charlotte’s Web but it’s come up in conversation multiple times recently so perhaps I need to.

  70. Laurie says...

    Oh please no bacon while watching Charlotte’s Web!! 🤣 how about a farm-fresh theme? Eggs, fresh veggies, corn, pancakes… or maybe some slop?!? Make some kind of stew of leftovers from your fridge, serve over noodles and call it “slop” (I think that’s what Wilbur ate, right?)

  71. Oh, and the Redwall series by Brian Jacques is the best I can think of for literary feasts!!!! I always wanted to taste everything.

    • Lisa says...

      I totally agree! I read them aloud to my two boys, grown men now. I still cherish a recipe card my then-eight year old wrote with a recipe for a stew described in one of the books.

  72. So sweet! I don’t think I would have the forethought to make an invitation, but I love the idea of matching food to your movie’s theme. It might even help me meal plant ;) We haven’t seen The Fantastic Mr. Fox, so that will have to be our next one! Also, I LOVE the impression that they mostly watch movies they’ve read the books of together first. Again, not something people have to do, but we do a lot of read-alouds too, so it appeals to me. We are reading the second Mary Poppins book now, and I got so excited seeing the trailer for the new Mary Poppins, realizing that it starts the same way! Other recent favorites were Peter Pan (which we got to see as a children’s play in the Bronx) and Dr. Doolittle, which I need to dig up the old movie for!

  73. Tricia says...

    I remember making a “web” in elementary school out of pretzel sticks and melted chocolate or white chocolate, used as the glue. Perhaps you could make a web with his name in it?

  74. Katie says...

    When I was a child, the books that came the most alive to me were the ones in which I could almost taste the food. I would’ve died to taste the raspberry cordial from Anne of Green Gables or the brown sugar cakes from Little House on the Prairie. I read somewhere that JK Rowling loved reading about grand feasts in a book she had read as a child and put that element into her own writing. This type of an evening would have done me in!

    • Ellen says...

      Yes! For me it was the Turkish Delight in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I remember being woefully disappointed when I eventually tried them, but reading about them, they sounded like the most delicious candy ever.

    • kate says...

      Ellen, how many of us were traumatized by the letdown of Turkish delight in real life!! Still so upsetting.

    • Lily says...

      Yes I remember Turkish delight! It seemed spooky!

    • Anna says...

      The book that I remember as having amazing food is Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Practically the whole book is a feast!

  75. My mom used to do something similar for my sister and me, and now both of us can’t wait to do the same for our kids. One element that we loved: as we got older, we helped our mom plan the themed movie night meals and would make little menus or “restaurant signs” (Chez Lydia for a French movie, Lydia’s Pub for an Irish one…all named for our dog) to set the mood, and would set the table using fun linens or place cards. It became a way for us to participate in the celebration, to surprise our dad, and to create something great as a family.

    • nadine says...

      Lydia’s signs are adorable! I can imagine myself doing the same when I was a kid, or now with Gaston’s signs (my kitty).

  76. Oh my gosh, I love this! I think we’re having a snow day tomorrow– but I have to work– so I’ve been gathering up fun ideas:)

  77. Lauren says...

    What a fun idea! You could keep going with Roald Dahl books and movies, too. For Matilda, pancakes with “Miss Honey” and maybe chocolate cake. For James and the Giant Peach, a peach-themed meal like pork chops with peach sauce and peach cobbler. For The BFG, a tea-party-style breakfast for dinner. An Alice in Wonderland tea party would also be fun (could do the Disney or Tim Burton movie). Studio Ghibli movies are so good and have lots of opportunity for food pairings, too :)

  78. Ah! I taught my gifted 4th and 5th graders a unit on the Hero’s Journey (like what Joseph Campbell wrote about). We read a lot of stories and also watched a film or two, charting out how the plots fit each step of the journey and one of the films we watched was the 70s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory. To make it extra special, I got each kid a chocolate bar and re-wrapped them in a Wonka Bar wrapper with a golden ticket inside. They loved the film (some had never seen it; can you imagine? What is their childhood, even?) but the funniest part was my class was so disappointed that there were more than 5 Golden Tickets (obviously, each kid got a ticket). When asked how they would feel if someone else got a Golden Ticket and not them, they quickly changed their minds though!

    Things to do for Charlotte’s Web: A lot of classes have done a Reader’s Theatre. Get some costumes and friends and record it, even if just on a phone, and they’d remember if forever. If you wanted to go the food+movie route, why not get some food you’d find at a State fair? Like, a corn dog, or cotton candy or candied apple (er, or carmel and apple slices, might be more manageable for a small tummy). Maybe a sign that read “Some Pig” to hang while you watched it.

    • Rae says...

      You are a dream teacher! I’ve had had a life-long crush on Gene Wilder from Willy Wonka and all of your ideas sound like so much fun!

  79. Chandra says...

    Someone may have already commented, but fun fair food would be great for the Charlotte’s Web movie night! I love that movie and one of my favorite scenes is when Templeton is singing about all the fun fair food he finds after the fair is closed, lol. An old timey fair ticket could be a cute way to design the invitation too!

  80. Patricia says...

    Pippy Longstockings!

  81. Meg P says...

    Gah! I love this so much! We just had our first family movie night with my 3 year old. The original Winnie the Pooh movie (fast forwarding the scary hufflelump bits, ha), with popcorn and a snuggly blanket. Perfect!

    For Charlotte’s Web, seems like a farmstyle picnic or “fair” food would be fun. Let us know what you come up with!

  82. Sarah says...

    I have the Boggis, Bunce, and Bean song stuck in my head now! The Fantastic Mr. Fox soundtrack is fantastic. Our two-year-old sings “Davy Crockett” as “Baby Crocker.” Every song is a hit with the whole family, especially Kristofferson’s Theme, a wonderful soundtrack to childhood in general!

  83. ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ was my favorite book as a child and the reason I loved it so much was the idea of chicken, cider, and carrots. I don’t know why but that always seemed so cozy to me, which is why I continued re-reading the book. Funny to hear that her son is the same way!

    Also, this idea is just adorable.

  84. Hayley says...

    Such a sweet, sweet idea, Erin! Thank you for sharing! I can’t wait to try this when my kids are a bit older. And I am loving these Templeton smoragasbord suggestions! Brilliant! I read Charlotte’s Web out loud to my first child when she was a newborn and, right after I’d finished, by husband found me with the baby in the nursery sobbing. He was so scared–what had happened?? Don’t mind me, just the ending of Charlotte’s Web + postpartum hormones :-) (But let’s be honest, I’d cry without the hormones.)

  85. Melinda says...

    Oh… next read the three Mary Poppins books. Fun read-aloud. I always cry at end of last book…. because I know it’s the final time that particular little girl will read that particular series with me. You could pull your meal out of a carpet bag.

  86. Such a wonderful idea.

  87. Meg says...

    No. As a mom who works outside the home and is doing the best i can, i reject the attempt by the internet to make me feel like i have to constantly up my game. It’s a movie night! that in itself is exciting. i am not buying into all this hyper-parenting brought to you by mommyblogs. nope!

    • Then don’t! A simple movie night is of course special enough and this post certainly doesn’t imply or purport otherwise. But there is never anything wrong with bringing a little magic into a child’s day, and if some mom’s (or aunties, or grandmas, or babysitters!) have the time, then more power to them!

      Besides — it’s once a month! I’m not crafty and I work full time outside the home too, but even this is something that isn’t beyond my skill set. It’s just dinner and some paper, tacked onto a movie is all!

    • Megan Mayer-Rothbarth says...

      It’s just meant to be for fun. Feel free to leave it alone. Movies by themselves are also great!

    • Katie says...

      I think we are all just doing the best we can, hang in there!!! I also work outside the home and try and do special things but I’ve never taken my kids to the dentist. Can’t win ‘em all is my current parenting manra.We are all just getting by, with love and patience, right? :)

    • Fancy tickets don’t make or break the love you give your child/ren, so I wouldn’t even sweat it. Just by the fact that you’re doing the best you can, Meg, means you’re a wonderful mom!

      I’m not a mom yet, but love the idea of taking movie nights with friends up a notch with Erin’s idea. Thanks for sharing, Cup of Jo!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh, meg, thank you so much for your note. this is not AT ALL a post about upping your parenting game! this is just a fun idea you can feel free to take or leave. you sound like a wonderful mom who is doing an amazing job. (for the record, alex and i don’t eat dinner regularly with our kids, don’t do anything special for movie nights, buy our cakes for birthdays, get grouchy at bedtime half the time, etc., and i consider myself a totally loving mom:) there’s absolutely no checklist you have to follow!)

    • Lisa says...

      Meg, I hear you and I agree that I would never take it to this level for a variety of reasons, time certainly being one of them. But I do love L’s idea below of Friday night pizza and a movie. I can’t say that we’d be able to do homemade every week (actually, I can say that there’s no way we’d be able to do it weekly with things currently as they are), but even if it’s just once a month, I love the idea of the tradition and the grounding of it while the kids are young. As for your general thoughts, you are certainly not alone. I hope there is a some solace in knowing that.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thanks for these notes. i still want to reiterate that my entire parenting philosophy and point of this site is to parent in whatever relaxed, chill, easy way that feels right to you. this took erin 10 minutes because she’s a graphic designer, and she got the carrots from the back of the fridge. you could do it with printer paper and half a pencil, too. :) it’s a fun idea to COMPLETELY take or leave! no pressure at all! everyone is doing a great job. xoxo

    • Louisa says...

      I read this and thought back to Ashley Ford’s recent post: “Sometimes, I wonder if he’s not a little too happy.” And I could hear a small echo of that in Erin’s comment: “Growing up in an immigrant family, my parents worked really hard and showed their love in other ways.”

      I dropped off my daughter at daycare today and she said “Maite’s mommy puts a card in her lunch box.” Ah, baby girl. I show love in other ways.

    • Meg, I totally get you. I think this idea is really adorable, but as a pregnant, working mom, it’s hard to find the time! That said, we do reserve Friday nights as “pizza and movie night,” and our three year so looks forward to it. Sometimes we make pizza, sometime we order from our favorite local place, and when I am running late for pickup after work, we Domino’s (it’s super fast!).

    • Kelly says...

      i work outside the home too. for me, I could see spending 5-10 mins to add a twist like this to our movie nights and that would (for me) take it from feeling like “i’m putting on a movie bc it’s Friday and I’m too exhausted to actually talk to you” to a night of togetherness.

      i did a night movie night with my 7 year in December where we picked a Christmas movie and made popcorn and hot cocoa. We got her sleeping bag out and piled cushions on the floor. I looked over at her a couple times during the movie and had to freeze the moment in my mind. She was just glowing with how special it felt to her and looked so happy and content. Huge win for a little extra effort.

      but – take it or leave it – we’re all just figuring out what works for us! As parents and just people in the world. i love reading what others do, even if I’d never do it myself.

    • gk says...

      i’m with meg on this one, although i take more of a “good for you, not for me” approach. we do sporadic movie nights (and rainy afternoons) with our kid. the thing that makes it special is that we get to eat some sort of food in front of the tv (usually pizza or cheese fondue). that’s enough in our household and i have no shame about it :)

    • This is such a great space! I love what the amazing people of Cup of Jo have created. This is a great example of how people can have differing opinions while still being loving and respectful and encouraging all at the same time. I love it. I learn so much from this blog.

      Also, this post is such an inspiration to me. I’m not sure if I’ll have the time to print out a cute little invite, but I love the reminder that kids are so completely amazed by the littlest things. Maybe I could write out an invite for bedtime stories to try to make that a more pleasant experience, because bedtime can be the worst.

    • Erin says...

      I hear you! I saw the golden ticket and had to check that immediate feeling of not-enoughness that I sometimes get when someone does what I’m trying to do (in our case, Friday night “Frozen” viewing and pizza), but does it so much more magically. I can’t even print a receipt, much less a golden ticket. But that doesn’t mean I can’t use a post like this to think about how fun it would be have frozen pizza, frozen peas, frozen blueberries for our “Frozen” viewing. I like posts like this one (once I get over my initial insecurity) because they remind me to think creatively about the things I do with my kids, within whatever reach I have that week. My guess is that making the golden ticket brought Erin joy. Slapping a frozen pizza in the oven will bring this Erin joy, too.

    • Kristin says...

      I love how supportive this community is, but I’m surprised at how often women mention that they are a “working mom”. Being a stay at home mom has by far been more work and far more demanding then any job I’ve ever had. The use of that term always makes me feel inadequate. Please show support to all mothers.

    • Laura C. says...

      I hear you , Meg, but I hear Erin too. That is, factually it is a good idea to give a twist to a movie night with kids. I really can relate to the two of you.

    • Haley says...

      Amen! Movie nights with my kids are for when my husband’s away and I can put my feet up – we usually do make-your-own-pizzas and ice cream ON THE COUCH but that’s as fun as I’m going to get :)

    • Lily says...

      Hear hear Kristin! I worked outside the home when my first daughter was a baby, then worked from home (with my kids in daycare), then stayed home with my kids, and now I work outside the home again. The hardest one, for me personally, in terms of beingall hands on deck all the time and the emotional physical exhaustion, was staying home with my kids. It’s intense!! All the moms out there are doing the best they can; no matter what your work situation is.

    • Anna says...

      Another start-at-home mom here and I just wanted to say that I completely agree with you Kristen.

    • Midge says...

      Erin, your movie nights made me happy. Meg, your comment made me laugh. Kristin, word. I’ve been a SAHM and a working mom and they’re both impossible and joyful in completely different ways. And all our kids are loved SO MUCH.

    • Kristin says...

      Thank you Midge for your kindness. I couldn’t agree with you more.

    • Blandine says...

      Ah ah ah! Whenever i read articles such as this one I oscillate between “aww, that sounds so sweet, I need to do it” and “nope, not happening”.

  88. For Charlotte’s Web: Fair food! Hot dogs & cotton candy.

    This idea has really gotten my wheels turning! Thanks.

    • DIANA says...

      oooh yes! Popcorn, corndogs!

    • Ash says...

      YES! I thought the same thing — only I’m partial to corn dogs and caramel corn :)

    • Starlene says...

      If you’re watching the old cartoon Charlotte’s Web, you must have a smorgasbord!!

  89. L says...

    We do Pizza movie night every Friday and the anticipation all week long it too cute. Every morning they ask: It today Friday, it it Pizza movie night tonight? My favorite part is making homemade pizza all together right before we all cuddle up with blankets and all the lovies on the sofa!

    • Lisa says...

      I love this. Tradition, offers a sort of grounding for the kiddos while they are young as they know what to expect (and to look forward to!) on Friday nights, and simple enough to be doable even with a quite hectic work schedule. Thanks for the idea!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      love that :)

  90. Jill D says...

    What to eat with Charlotte’s Web.. well bacon may be a teaching moment but I would opt for fair food in honor of Templeton the Rats gluttonous rampage through the fair garbage. Pizza, french fries, ice cream, and cotton candy.

    Great idea for creating a memory and tradition for your child.

  91. Meg says...

    They should have a smorgasbord-orgasbord-orgasbord dinner. That’s the rat’s song at the fair!

  92. B says...

    This is so special. Thank you for sharing! For Charlotte’s web, maybe pancakes with “webs” drawn on them with some sort of chocolate…(“Some Pig!”)

  93. Lana says...

    Ah! This is awesome! Charlotte’s Web would be easy: have fair food in the likes of all the stuff Templeton eats at the county fair!!!
    We’re watching CoCo this Friday. Any good food suggestions?

    • DIANA says...

      Churros and Mexican Hot chocolate!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i loved coco!

    • Blythe says...

      There’s a pretty funny scene in the movie where the grandma forces him to have seconds of tamales– so tamales would be a perfect fit!

    • Hannah says...

      Nachos! The kids can help with the guac :-)

    • Rebecca Kiley says...

      We are snowed in in Boston and thinking of an afternoon Coco showing with cocoa!

  94. Heather Hall says...

    We often do “Dinner and a Movie” , and theme our dinner around the viewing choice for the evening. For “Charlotte’s Web” I did “Fair Food” . You could maybe do pigs in a blanket. It’s fun as your kids get older too, especially with some of the old classic movies.

    • Kelly says...

      Yes, I was going to say pigs in a blanket! My mom used to take hot dogs and wrap them in crescent roll dough, so they’d be BIG pigs in a blanket. And you can use turkey hot dogs, if you want to stay away from pork for Wilbur’s sake (though kids don’t usually know what hot dogs are made out of quite yet). And there are so many organic options these days, too, if you avoid processed meat.

  95. Kristina says...

    Growing up Friday night was PPPP Night [Pizza, popcorn, pop (midwesterner here), and picnic]. We would have a picnic complete with red checkered picnic blanket on the living room floor.
    Movies with picnics became a really important part of family time for us as my father was severely mentally disabled after an accident – and this was something he could enjoy and participate in.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is so moving, kristina. i’m really sorry to hear about your dad. PPPP nights sound so special.

    • Morgan says...

      Love this! We love living room picnics, too. The kids always feel like it’s a special treat.

    • Stephanie says...

      ❤️

  96. Bailey says...

    What a great idea! Maybe a Templeton style smorgasbord of random appetizers or dressed up leftovers?? Or a country style breakfast (biscuits and gravy? Hashbrowns eggs and orange juice?) We have homemade pizza and a movie every Friday. It’s something my family did while I was growing up and I recently started it with my own family. I wasn’t sure it would take but every morning as we approach Friday my kids ask what day of the week it is until I say Friday and everyone cheers “pizza night!” It’s the only night we eat in front of the TV and it feels like we’re welcoming in the weekend (and my kids love being in charge of topping their own pizzas). I like the idea of mixing things up with a themed movie and dinner. Thanks for this idea!

  97. Meghan says...

    This is such an awesome idea! I love how a little thought and a teeny bit of effort makes a forever memory. I remember one year at Easter when my mum hid our Easter baskets. The baskets were just super cheap dollar store buys, but in order to find them we had to follow a trail of Glosette raisins. Mum told us they were rabbit turds from the Easter Bunny. My little brother was beside himself at getting to eat ‘poo’ (boys!). I was too old to believe in the Easter Bunny, but secretly loved the whole thing.

  98. Sarah says...

    i love this idea! i would have thought this was magical when i was little.

  99. Liz says...

    My mom would always call leftover night “Smorgasbord Night” – which made it feel so fun and festive. For a Charlotte’s Web dinner, you totally could pull out any leftovers or easy finger foods and say you’re having a smorgasbord, just like Templeton!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      what a cute thing to say :) my mom would do “picnic dinner” sometimes, where she would put out crackers with random toppings. i’m sure she was just exhausted but we loved it!

    • Lana says...

      Haha!!! I didn’t see this and just left the same comment, basically. But (!!!) I had forgotten Templeton called it a smorgasbord and now that song is stuck in my head!

    • kash says...

      that’s so cute! my mom would call it “bits and bobs” night, and it would be half frozen finger foods and half whatever was in the fridge cut into small pieces. we would watch movies or national geographic documentaries and i was allowed to have grape soda. what a nice memory!

    • Kerry says...

      We do ‘munchie plates’ where there’s no real dinner, it’s just veggies and dip, cheese, fruit, perperoni stick or some left over chicken etc. I usually make it into a funny face with grated cheese for hair or something. It was my favourite dinner when my mom made it for me and it’s my kids’ fave too! Funny what we remember most ;)

    • Stephanie says...

      I call it “fendi” night as in fend(i) for yourself. I probably could come up with a nicer spin on it! 😂

    • Laura says...

      Best idea!

  100. Ashley says...

    Templeton’s fair food!

  101. Katherine Friedland says...

    Pigs in a blanket? :)

  102. Love the idea. When I read Charlotte’s Web to my daughter, she asked for “pig slops” for dinner. And I remember as a kid, somehow Wilbur’s dinners of random leftovers sounded good! You could put together a little of this and a little of that and call it pig slops.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, great idea!

    • mb says...

      I haven’t re-read Charlotte’s Web since I was a kid–I’m thinking maybe 20 years ago. But I still remember the buttermilk bath Wilbur gets. And how he loved it–I wasn’t quite sure what buttermilk was but I really, really wanted to drink it up. I’m pretty sure you can’t feed your kid BUTTERMILK but maybe buttermilk pancakes.

  103. Oh my goodness this is the cutest thing ever! Is it weird to want to do this for movie night with my husband?

    • Diana says...

      You should totally do it for any loved ones!! How romantic!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      do it!

  104. Meredith says...

    I associate carnival food with Charlotte’s Web from Templeton the rat! Popcorn would be great, and cotton candy if you’re feeling fancy.

  105. Nicole says...

    Last time we had a family movie night at home, I actually stopped by a theater to pick up popcorn. Because seriously, is there any popcorn better than movie theater popcorn?

    • katie says...

      We did that once with my nieces. It was a cold, rainy day and the local theater didn’t have a good kids movie playing. We stopped by, picked up some popcorn and rented a movie. Such a fun indulgence!

  106. Rachel says...

    What a wonderful idea! Thanks so much for sharing. I’ve read these books with my son and look forward to creating our own magical viewing.

  107. Samantha Klein says...

    JUNK FOOD DINNER. Think Templeton’s night at the fair. :)