Nothing beats the sheer sensory overload of a well-equipped home theater system from sites like, especially if you have an entire roomful of guests you want to impress. But it's not enough just to own the big TV, projector, or surround-sound speakers -- you still have to come up with enticing ideas to get people to participate. Here are five fun things you can do to make your home theater more popular than ever.

1. Marathons

Do your favorite people have a special place in their hearts for long-running franchises such as Star Trek or James Bond movies? Do they gravitate toward the work of a particular star such as Elvis Presley or Charlie Chaplin? If so, then you have the basis for your next successful home theater get-together -- the movie marathon. But be realistic -- a 20-film series, for instance, will probably need to be either pared down or divided into multiple viewing sessions. You may want to submit a list of all the possible titles to your guests beforehand so they can choose the final lineup.

2. Sports Extravaganzas

Big sporting events naturally lend themselves to a big screen. Your guests might follow your favorite team from weekend to weekend, or focus purely on the huge events such as the Superbowl or the NBA "March Madness" tournament. One word of caution: Since passions tend to run high and alcoholic beverages tend to flow at such viewing sessions, you might want to think about keeping your crowd as partisan as possible, instead of inviting rabid fans of rival teams to the same game!

3. Seasonal Fun

Certain holidays and seasons evoke their own themes, and these can provide you with some marvelous opportunities to enjoy those special times with your special people. For example, you could:

  • Schedule an evening of old holiday specials or favorite holiday movies
  • Host a "summer film festival" featuring movies that take place during the summer
  • Bring extra visual impact to the Rose Bowl Parade or New Year's Eve telecasts
  • Forego an ordinary Halloween party in favor of your own big-screen "fright fest" (but make it family-friendly if kids are invited)

4. The Backyard Theater

Moving your home theater system out into the back yard can make you the center of attention at any block party or other neighborhood event -- as long as you have your neighbors' permission, of course. There are companies that specialize in comprehensive outdoor theater kits, complete with screen, but you can also use your existing home setup to create an impromptu outdoor theater. To do this, you'll need:

  • A projector that can be easily removed from its normal position in the home
  • A cart that positions the projector at he desired height for viewing
  • A video playback device
  • At least two full-range speakers, and ideally a subwoofer
  • A frame or strategically-positioned clothes line on which to hang a sheet for your screen
  • Several lengths of extension cord to power the equipment (and pieces of carpet to place over them so guests won't trip over them)

5. The Mobile Theater

Who says your home theater system has to remain at home? With a little forethought and organization, you can take your system on the road, either for assembly and use at your destination or for screening inside an RV. Here are some tips to help you accomplish these goals.

  • Let efficiency and portability be your watchword when traveling. Today's lineup of projectors include tiny units called "pocket projectors" that can project an astonishingly impressive image for their size and weight (many of these projectors weight less than one pound.) You can connect the projector to your laptop and project the image directly onto your hotel room wall. To avoid making excessive noise, invest in a headphone amp and ask your travel partners to attach their own headphones to its output jacks.
  • If you want to show a movie inside your RV, keep in mind that you'll need additional battery power and possibly a generator to cope with the additional power demands. Here, too, a pocket projector makes sense -- and a larger projector would probably throw too big an image for your interior space anyway. Simply hang a sheet to serve as your screen. Your laptop can serve as your media center, but you'll need to connect the audio output to speakers.

From marathons and other theme nights to watching movies on the road, your home theater is capable of even more fun and excitement than you might realize. Try these suggestions -- and be ready to make a lot of popcorn!