There are cases you can buy for your portable DVD player that hang on the back of car seats ($20), but they typically go on the back of one seat and not in the center, so both kids can't see the screen equally. Also, these holders are their own carrying case, so they don't fit into other baggage easily, which means that it's one more thing to carry. This is not so ideal when you are doing a combination of flying and driving on a trip with the kids. Finally, I am cheap, and have a hard time buying things that I could make better!
I made one from an old canvas bag (our house is bursting at the seams with extra canvas bags we get for free). The holder hangs the DVD player when it is open flat in between two seats, and the straps just fit around the base of the car headrests. If you are lucky, your canvas bag will have nylon straps, which you can reuse for the holder.
The DVD player we have is a Sony DVP-FX930 9" model that flips open so that it is flat, but you can do this for any portable DVD player. Its dimensions (with the battery) are 8 3/4" wide, 6 1/2" deep, and 1 1/2" high.
What you will need:
-old canvas bag that is bigger than the DVD player (i.e., the open DVD player can fit into the whole bag)
-nylon strap, about 3' (you can buy these from a store such as the local hardware store or arts and craft store, but sometimes you can also steal this off of canvas/plastic bags that places give away)
-elastic band, about 12" (a little longer than the width of your DVD player)
-2 sets of plastic side release buckles, 1" wide (should match the size of the nylon straps). Can get these from a local hardware or craft store
-sewing machine (though you could do this by hand if you need to)
-pencil or chalk for marking cloth
You'll need to know how to use a sewing machine. The total cost was ~$5, where I bought only the buckles and elastic strap and scavenged the rest of the materials from stuff around the house. If you are lucky and have an old bag with buckles, you may be able to scavenge those too!
This an entry for the "Are We There Yet?" challenge.
Step 1: Size the bag to the player
Turn the bag inside out and lay it flat on a table.
Open the DVD player so that it is flat, and lay that on top of the canvas bag. If the player has a battery, be sure to have that attached too.
The canvas bag will be too big for the player, so you will have to sew along the bag vertically to make the bag narrower so that it fits the DVD player. Using a pencil, mark where the bag should be sewn to.
Pin along those lines and then test that the DVD still fits inside the now narrower bag. You do not want it too snug, or it will be hard to get the DVD player in and out. However, you do not want it to be too loose, or the DVD player will slide around too much in there. You may have to do a little trial and error as the DVD player has a thickness to it, which will affect where you draw those lines. For the DVD player here, my lines wound up being 10 1/4" apart.
Once you are happy with the narrower width of the bag, sew along those lines.
If there is a lot of extra material above the DVD player, you may want to cut that off. Leave about 1" of material.
Step 2: Make a slit for the screen
Cut the slit horizontally across the front face of the bag but leave an inch or so at either end. Make vertical cuts on each end so that it is a big "H."
Check to make sure that you can insert the lower half of the DVD player into the bag. If the slit is not big enough, cut a little more on each side so that the DVD player fits.
Sew the rough edges down.
Step 3: Sew hanging straps to bag
Cut your nylon strips into two pieces.
Fold a strip in half, and sew where the fold is to the top corner of the canvas bag.
Sew the strap using a pattern with a box and an x inside the box.
Attach the clips to the straps, making sure that they are paired correctly (i.e., one pair for the left set of straps, and one pair for the right set of straps). Then fold over and sew the ends of the straps so that the clip cannot come off the strap.
Step 4: Sew elastic band for holding screen in place
You will have to eyeball where the elastic band should go, as you don't want it to be too high (or it will miss the DVD player), or too low (or it will go across the middle of the screen). Pin it in place and test it before sewing down the ends with a boxed X like for the nylon straps.
Step 5: Cut holes for access to buttons on player
Step 6: Hanging the DVD player in the car
Then, clip the nylon straps around the base of each headrest. Adjust the lengths so that the DVD player is centered and high enough for the passengers in the back to see.
Enjoy your movie (or, if you are in the front seat, the peace and quiet that it brings)!