How to entertain kids waiting in line for Santa at a Tree Lighting Event

Posted by Paul Murray on Monday Aug 18, 2014 Under Tips

Sant at an outdoor movie

Every year, for Christmas, the entire world turns into a haven of colors, songs and joy as everyone gets immersed in the holiday’s spirit. Surely we all remember how magical Christmas felt for us back when we were children and every year of our childhood was filled during this season with moments when we got treats such as hot cocoa with marshmallows, beautiful lights appeared everywhere and stories of Santa bringing presents to good children were told to us both as inspiration and as a motivation to behave. In my family, regardless of how much or how little money we had, the city tree lighting was something to look forward to for so many reasons for all of us, kids and adults alike!

That magical moment when the huge tree was bathed in thousands of lights captivated everyone’s attention and fired up our imagination and we would create stories to go with it each year. What is more, all children love these exuberant displays of lighting, not to mention gathering with other children, the hot cocoa that they get to drink outside in the snow, or ice tea in the warmer regions and, most of all, meeting Santa. However, once the light show is over, kids’ attention has to be focused on something else since they still have short attention spans, they are hyperactive, easily bored and have to be constantly captivated by new, exciting and interesting activities designed especially for them. My parents used imagination games with me and my siblings to keep us on our toes and before we knew it, we were sitting in Santa’s lap going on and on about the things we wanted to get. In today’s society it is sometimes easy to achieve that with smart devices, such as phones and tablets, full of apps that will keep your child busy and entertained while in line to meet Santa and read him his wish list for this year’s round of the presents that are to be expected under the tree.

As a former child myself, a parent of two, I know that many little people lose interest and patience really fast, I am fully aware of the challenges that are to be expected each Christmas. I try to keep my kids busy with small games while waiting in line to see Santa but most times I end up staying in line for them and letting them run close by to play with other children of other dedicated waiting parents who like me will call their kids to meet Santa when the turn comes.

However sometimes that is not enough so I decided to change things a bit last year and I spoke to the organizing team in charge of the tree lighting and the annual Christmas parade and together we decided that a winter cinema will spice things up nicely for the whole community who could become one giant family watching a movie together. Family movies that can be seen on the couch back home are way more fun when projected outdoors on a huge screen with larger audiences comprised of all or close to all family members, including cousins, uncles and aunts in my case, who would not normally fit into a living room, not to mention the fact that families include also close friends which adds to the number of people we want to spend Christmas with. Thus, for those of us that want a more classical approach and wish to turn Christmas into a time spent together with family and friends, an outdoor cinema would complete the picture nicely and provide an extra helping hand towards achieving that. In my case, the moment that we put away all our devices and engaged in close human interaction, we saw that our kids were doing just fine watching “A Christmas Carol”. You just can’t go wrong with family movies like “Elf”, “Arthur Christmas” or “Polar Express”, cartoons like “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” or the more recently launched “Rise of the Guardians” or “Frozen” which, although do not necessarily speak of Christmas alone, offer insight into the inner workings of some of the feasts’ iconic figures and make the Snow Queen be nice this time, all of which are suitable for us adults as well being either movies we used to watch ourselves as children or movies suitable for wider audiences varying in age. Besides, who doesn’t enjoy a nice movie outside with a warm beverage in hand?

An inflatable movie screen system installed close to adults and children waiting in line can be a life saver for the entire event. The great perk with an outdoor cinema while waiting is not only that it keeps children entertained but that it is also very easy to install because it is inflatable, making it very easy to set-up, it occupies little space and it gives any event that feeling our elders must have had back in the day of the outdoor cinemas. The great success with our choice of renting an inflatable outdoor cinema equipment was greatly helped by the fact that some of the parents involved in the idea with me made sure there were a few stands with gingerbread cookies and hot cocoa and some went even as far as coming up with face paint and crafts tools keeping the children active while the line progressed smoothly.

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Southern Outdoor Cinema

About Southern Outdoor Cinema
Southern Outdoor Cinema, LLC, is the LARGEST producer of high quality outdoor movie events in the United States for movie studios, film festivals, marketing agencies, Fortune 500 Companies, schools and cities. Southern Outdoor Cinema produces extraordinary outdoor movie experiences with big screens and bright and colorful images so that your audience members feel like they are at a real Hollywood film premiere. Contact Southern Outdoor Cinema to receive a free consultation for your next special event.

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DIY Cinema Element – Lighted Glass Block Snowman

Posted by Paul Murray on Tuesday Dec 4, 2012 Under Tips

It’s Christmas time and it’s Southern Outdoor Cinema’s favorite time of the year. There are so many different cinema elements that you can add to your holiday screening to create a festive outdoor movie experience. Today we are going to show you how to make a lighted glass block snowman that you can use to light up your venue’s path or place it at your concession stand. This snowman is cute. The lighted snowman cinema element is so easy to make, it would be a great project for school children to create for a PTA family movie night.

You will need:
Glass Block, Christmas lights, Acrylic Paint, Red Felt, 1 3/4″ Spouncer, 3/4″ Spouncer and Gift Filler


Step 1: Sponge white paint onto the edges of the front of the glass. Be sure not to make finger prints on the glass. Also do not cover the entire surface of the glass.

Step 2: With your 1 3/4″ Spouncer lightly dab two eyes onto the glass. To make the nose, dap one orange circle. With a the 3/4″ Spouncer make several small dots to form the smile.

Step 3: Allow 24 hours to dry.

Step 4: Add gift filler and Holiday lights into the center of the glass block through the provided hole.

Step 4: With the red felt tie on a scarf around the bottom of the glass block.

Step 5: Place the hat over the battery pack of the Holiday lights.

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Winter Cinema: Show A Holiday Themed Movie Downtown

Posted by Paul Murray on Monday Nov 26, 2012 Under Event Productions, Tips

As winter approaches, it is sometimes hard to let go of the beautiful summer weather and the outdoor fun that comes along with it, but winter offers equally wonderful ways to enjoy fun times and create special memories with family and friends. Beautiful snow and winter holidays offer opportunities for family fun. Winter cinema is a great way to turn a festive holiday event, like a tree lighting ceremony, into a complete holiday experience.

Many towns host annual holiday events like a tree lighting or holiday parade for community members to enjoy. After the holiday parade downtown or proceeding the tree lighting ceremony in the square, continue the festivities with a winter cinema. A family movie will add to the holiday cheer at the event and provide a full evening of family friendly fun. Show a movie like Elf, Arthur Christmas or Polar Express, or consider showing short cartoons like “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. The winter cinema event might be hosted by a downtown business or redevelopment district, a shopping or retail center, or a school.

Here are some additional tips for making a winter cinema event a success.


The right food will add a festive touch to your holiday themed event. Try gingerbread cookies and hot cocoa, and perhaps set up a campfire for making s’mores. The warm treats and the campfire will provide warmth during the winter event and add to the holiday cheer.


Decorations create a festive atmosphere. Christmas lights will add to the cheerful mood and provide necessary lighting, and a snow machine is a great way to add ambiance. Inflatable decorations such as a reindeer or snowman will also add a fun touch.

Activities for Kids

Offering activities for kids is a great touch at family oriented events. Face painting is always a great choice; a selection of Christmas or holiday themed designs would be perfect for this type of event. Holiday or winter themed crafts are another excellent choice. Crafts are fun, keep children busy and provide something special for kids to take home and help them remember the special event. Provide the materials for children to build a snowman with marshmallows or cotton balls, or have children create reindeer head pieces. Children will stay occupied and have fun, while parents enjoy a chance to relax and socialize.


Embrace the spirit of giving by including an opportunity to help a charity at the winter cinema event. There are many charities to consider; perhaps choose a local charity with ties to the community. Consider having a “Toys for Tots” drop box or collecting coats to donate to those in need. A non-perishable food drive to collect food for holiday meals is another excellent option.

Local holiday traditions are important in communities. Adding winter cinema to an annual holiday event is a great way to take a favorite local tradition, like the annual tree lighting, and turn it into an even more memorable community experience.

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Copyright 2006-2012
Southern Outdoor Cinema


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Winter Cinema

Posted by Paul Murray on Monday Dec 7, 2009 Under Event Productions

The value of an outdoor movie event… to add to an annual community event.

Winter Cinema
On a cold and windy night in a charming southern town of Hartsville, an inflatable movie screen was erected. The City Mayor, family and friends gathered together on blankets to watch the Polar Express outdoors in the downtown park. Bundled in coats and hats, movie watchers kept warm by sipping on hot chocolate. As the movie concluded, bells were heard in the distance. It was Santa. He arrived with Mrs. Clause and his elves to help light the City’s Christmas tree.

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