Jolly Good Shows! Your Movie Nights Are Made for Holiday Cheer

December 14, 2019 by University District

How to easily add a dash of holiday sparkle to your TV screen!


Pop on the popcorn maker. Snuggle up in your holiday PJs. Turn down the lights. Press play! The best yuletide movies are calling your name! 


Shine the holiday lights on Hollywood and break out the classics and new favourites that put everyone in the festive spirit. From the belly laughs of Elf and the giggle-inducing antics in A Christmas Story to the delightful classics that have enchanted holiday film seekers for decades. What’s not to love about a cozy night in with a great seasonal picture, hot cocoa and time together?


Gather up your family and friends, set the stage for some festive fun and go from “scrooged” to “it’s a wonderful life” with some tips to help the magic of the season take centre stage and some festive flick suggestions from our very own University District team to get inspiration rolling. There’s no time like show time at snow time!



Movie-going just got a little more upscale in NW Calgary! Whether you’re an ultimate film fan or simply enjoy spending an evening surrounded by the sights and sounds of blockbuster greatness, University District will be home to a stand-alone, adults-only VIP Cinemas theatre. What can you expect to experience at this five-auditorium theatre? Click here to learn more. We can’t wait until they open their doors in 2021! 


Plan a Blockbuster Holiday Film Night at Home


From treats to tipples and everything in between, plan a holiday get together to remember with tips that are sure to bring some holiday cheer, jumpstart your movie night tradition and send those bah-humbugs packing.


Set the scene for some holiday fun


Lights, camera and action! Set the tone for a super cinematic evening by dressing up your space with props. From string lights nestled in boughs or  garland that add a bit of twinkle and sparkle to your viewing space and holiday banners that sum up the season to a mini chalkboard that notes the evening’s showing. 


While you can always use candles for a night in, turn your living room into a theater with a lighted pathway back to the pantry for snacks (thank you LED rope lights!) or use well-lit marquee signs among the spread of goodies to create a festive spotlight fitting for a very merry bash.


Fun tip: Movie nights are a fun way to connect as a family. Build on those connections with some fun pre-film activities. Keep your kids or grandkids busy with crafts like making “Admit One” tickets and paper snack cones for the big night. What a fun way to literally usher in the most loved seasonal tradition of movie night!



Baby it’s cold outside. Time to get cozy!


Pull out the sleeping bags, some extra fluffy pillows and fleece blankets. It’s movie night! Cozy up the viewing area by placing baskets of throws around the room and deck out the sofa with plush, comfy faux fur pillows. Maybe even pop a small tent or gather all the sheets, blankets and cushions you can and invite your kids or grandkids to build the perfect pillow fort! They’ll love to cuddle up in their newly constructed hideaway – but don’t be surprised if you hear some Zzz’s before the credits roll.


Fun tip: Need extra seating? Large floor pillows or faux fur poufs are a great option, giving guests soft front-row seats.


Do Calgary’s colder months have you craving toasty interiors? Bring on the movie nights, we say! Transform your home into a warm and welcoming winter retreat perfect for any at-home blockbuster experience with some insider tips and ideas from resident interior designer with U/D builder partner Brookfield Residential. Take a look here for some crafty and inviting design suggestions! 


Play dress up for movie night


Amp up your cinematic experience and make it feel extra full of Christmas magic by dressing up in festive outfits.  Put on those silly holiday tees and graphic leggings or rock those matching onesies and ugly sweaters. If it’s a Santa Claus marathon, don a jolly old Saint Nick hat and if you’re watching Harry Potter, throw on scarves and paint lightning bolts on your foreheads. Be creative, have fun and don’t forget a cozy pair of season-themed socks!


Fun tip: From hats, sweaters and full-on Santa suits, fewer things are cuter than a fur baby in a holiday get-up.  For all your costume needs visit Walmart in Northland Mall or Party City in Crowfoot Centre, both just 10 minutes from U/D and let your four-legged companion bring you a hearty dose of cheer and plenty of photo ops this holiday season.



Reel in the fun with much-needed munchies


No movie marathon is complete without a concession stand of snacks. Opt for classic munchies such as popcorn, red licorice, chocolate nibbles and gummies or assemble a veggie platter with hummus, a DIY pizza or a tray of fruit on a stick for some healthful options. 


Kick things up a notch and be the chef of movie night with some tasty and more creative cinema-style snacks. Bake up some apple and banana chips; whip up a batch of sweet and spicy nuts and layer up some nachos. Time to get snacking! Read on for our festive suggestion!


Fun tip: Whatever treats you choose, mini containers or cute printed bags makes it easy for your guests to hod and graze while adding a festive touch to everyone’s evening.


Beverages are a cinematic must! Try one of these refreshing adult and kid-friendly drink recipes to add a festive buzz to your evening – not just from the cocktails! Looking for something warm and festive? Local chef and cookbook author Julie Van Rosendaal has you covered with her fan-favourite Salted Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate recipe



No distractions allowed


Buzz, buzz and beep, beep – no more! Once the fun begins, hand over the phones and enjoy the flick. Avoid checking in on incoming emails and the latest updates on social media by making film night a no-phone zone or “unplugged party”. Simply have your guests put their phone in a drawer in another room or as friends and family arrive, have them place their phone in a “drop off” basket at the door.


Fun tip: Plan for an intermission. It’s a great time to shake the sillies out, take a bathroom break if you have little ones, maybe a chance to refill the snack bar and of course take a few minutes for the host to post that festive movie night selfie on Instagram for all to enjoy. Just remember to share these memorable moments with us by tagging @UDistrictYYC!



Festive Fa-La-La Flicks: Our Picks!


Need a shot of holiday cheer? Deck the halls, make some cocoa, snuggle up and watch one of the best seasonal movies of all time. To get you started, our team made a list of their personal festive favourites and checked it at least twice. From classics that have stood the test of time to comedies set during the jolly season, there’s something for everyone. Now all you need are some snacks and a warm blanket!


  • Travis’s picks: Elf and The Holiday


  • Josh’s picks: How the Grinch Stole Christmas and A Charlie Brown Christmas


  • Lisa’s picks: Home Alone 1 and 2, The Santa Clause starring Tim Allen and The Nightmare Before Christmas


  • Deanna’s pick: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (claymation version)


  • Adam’s pick: Prancer


Give the film buff on your nice list the perfect gift this season without breaking the bank. Whether you are shopping for friends, family, significant others, or even co-workers, these expert tips from our friends at Scotiabank will help keep your spending on track. Take a look here



Tis the Season for Popcorn: Gingerbread Caramel Crunch!


If you love gingerbread (and we do!), you won’t be able to resist this crispy, crunchy corn that’s packed full of seasonal flavours. Make it for a holiday party, share it as a tasty gift or add a little extra magic for a cozy night of holiday movie-watching.  It’s simple to make, a real crowd-pleaser with its sweet coating and rich seasonal flavours and will keep everyone coming back for more. No wonder it’s a University District favourite!




  • 14 cups air-popped popcorn
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup 
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 – 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


*Recipe courtesy of Taste of Home


Step 1: Get popping!


In an air popper, prepare 14 cups of corn. Place in a large bowl coated with cooking spray and set aside.


Step 2: Bring ingredients together


Butter the sides of a small heavy saucepan. Add the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, molasses, ginger, cinnamon and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Allow the mixture to boil without stirring for 5 minutes.



Step 3: Pour gingerbread caramel mixture over popcorn


Remove the mixture from the heat. Stir in the baking soda (mixture will foam) and vanilla and quickly pour over your popped corn. Mix well.


Step 4: Bake, cool and eat!


Transfer the coated corn to two greased 15 x 10 x 1 inch-baking pans. Bake the coated popcorn at 250°F for one hour, stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from pans and place on waxed paper to cool. Once cooled, eat away!


We hope these movie night essentials help make your evening a blockbuster hit. Just remember, it all starts with good company, tasty snacks and a charming holiday flick. Get settled on the couch (or in your fort!), turn off the lights, and enjoy. Happy Holidays everyone!


Planning to host a holiday movie night with family and friends this year? Capture the moment and share it with us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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