Like the idea of Screen on the Green, but not the crowds? Then consider hosting your own little backyard version, complete with a filmgoer's feast of hot dogs, beer and popcorn.
First step: Hoist an outdoor screen, which can require a little ingenuity. Our cinema solution: A white bed sheet draped over the fence and secured with -- what else? -- duct tape. We borrowed an LCD projector, like the ones used for conference room PowerPoint presentations, but local businesses also rent them. (Try Capital Computer Rental, 3545 Chain Bridge Rd., Fairfax, 703-698-5500, $159 for up to three days.)
It's your yard, so you pick the movie. Make it something short and sweet. We went with "A Hard Day's Night" for 90 minutes of zany Beatles fun. Anything longer, and you may be pushing the limits of your lawn chairs' comfort -- not to mention the protective powers of your bug spray.
More important than the flick, however, is the right finger food. We grilled hot dogs and put out fixings to dress them in three classic urban styles: Chicago ("dragged through the garden," as they say in the Windy City), New York (mustard and sauerkraut) and Washington (a half-smoke with chili, mustard and onions, a la Ben's Chili Bowl). Local supermarkets have most of the ingredients, and we found a box of 40 tasty half-smokes at Trio Supply Company (419 Morse St. NE, 202-543-6500) for the bargain price of $12.
Guests pitched in with sips and sides: ginger limeade, a fruit tart with lemon cream, coleslaw, potato chips, and chocolate-covered raisins and peanuts. Naturally, we added popcorn to round out the feast. Try finding all that at a concession stand on the Mall.