College Life

Everything You Need to Host a Cozy Dorm Movie Night In

published Oct 30, 2023
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Young multi-ethnic hipster friends relaxing on living room sofa and watching film on TV
Credit: wundervisuals/Getty Images

Amid all the chaos of college — classes, assignments, and work-study, oh my — taking a break and spending quality time with friends can feel like a true luxury. If you want to switch it up from your usual “sitting around and doing nothing,” hosting a movie night in your dorm room is a simple, affordable, and fun way to do just that. 

I don’t know about you, but my college-student finances are tight. That means going out to the movies isn’t exactly a regular occurrence. However, hosting a movie night at home is more than doable. Not only is it far cheaper, but you also don’t have to worry about transportation, long lines, or dealing with people other than your friends. At home, you have complete control over the entire experience: You can ensure your snacks are on point (and not wildly overpriced), and you can completely relax without worrying about some rando kicking your seat.

To have a fantastic cinematic experience, you first have to start by selecting a film. You could create a poll or questionnaire to figure out which movie or movies (who said you couldn’t have a marathon?) everyone wants to watch. (And if you don’t already have a streaming service in mind, there are several platforms with great student discounts at less than $5 a month, like Hulu, Peacock, and Paramount+.) 

You could stop there and have a perfectly fine night, but if you really want to go all-out and turn your casual hang into a night of cinematic magic, here are some items you’ll need to turn your space into a mini movie theater — on a budget, of course.

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Contrary to what you may think, many projectors are budget-friendly and worth the investment if you want to have movie nights regularly. If your friend group is filled with cinephiles, you could even split the cost and share it, taking turns hosting movie night in each of your respective dorm rooms. This option not only provides a cinema-like feel with its large display, but it's also versatile and portable, making it easy to move around as needed. It’s compatible with smartphones, streaming sticks, computers, and even video game consoles.

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You probably already own a cozy blanket, but if you don’t, this one is a great, inexpensive pick for your movie night. It comes in multiple colors to match your room’s aesthetic, and the super-plush material will help ensure you and your friends have a cozy viewing experience.

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was $29.99

There are only so many people you can fit onto a twin XL bed, so if you’re going to ask people to sit on your dorm floor for a two-hour movie, it’s nice to offer them a cushion. Not only will it make for a more comfortable time, but having a floor cushion or two will also give your space an extra-comfy atmosphere.

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I promise you this: No one wants to watch a movie with the big light on. If you don’t already have a smaller, softer source of light for your dorm room, hosting a movie night is the perfect excuse to get one. This dimmable LED sunset lamp casts a soft, warm light around your room, allowing you to turn off the fluorescents while never causing you to lose sight of the snacks.

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was $21.99

Speaking of snacks: If you frequently enjoy hosting movie nights — or just love popcorn — consider investing in a popcorn maker, which carries big movie theater energy. A popcorn maker not only gives you access to fresh, buttery popcorn at any time, but it will also fill your space with a delicious smell you usually can only find at your local AMC. Plus, the convenience it offers allows you to focus on enjoying the film and the company of your friends, rather than worrying about heating things up in a microwave or running out for snacks at the last minute.

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Party City

Want to really lean into the theme? Pick up a few packs of these old-fashioned popcorn holders. It’ll keep everyone from sticking their hands into the same bowl, and will give you bonus points for thinking of *everything* for your movie night.

Morgann Rhule


Morgann Rhule is a writer and journalism student at Florida Atlantic University. She loves everything about fashion, music, and culture, which you will hear her talking about on her podcast, Art School Dropout. She also writes about it as a contributor for the student-led fashion publication Strike Magazines Boca. Her best friends describe her as a shopaholic bookworm who gives the best advice. Born in Jamaica, she shows her pride with a beaded red, green, and gold necklace she never takes off.

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SchoolFlorida Atlantic University '25
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