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Summer Party Planner

16 Tips for an Effortless Outdoor Party

Here’s how to create a backyard oasis where the revelers are satiated and no one gets eaten alive.

Outdoor patio with paper lanterns
Simon Scarboro/Country Homes & Interiors
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Light It Right

Is that your dog Sparky? Or a skunk? Don’t leave guests in the dark. All you need is a little ambient lighting, says Jimmy Duhig, the owner of Creative Lighting Design, in San Francisco: “If you’re outside while it’s getting dark, your eyes will adjust.” Just hang strings of lights on the deck, the fence, even tree branches, and add some hurricane lanterns or tealights. Duhig recommends globe string lights, elegant round bulbs that give off a warm glow (try Room Essentials Clear Globe Lights; $15, target.com). “This is what you always see strung overhead at outdoor dinner parties on TV,” he says.

What to do with extension cords (a.k.a. trip wires) If you need to run cords through the yard, says Duhig, snip old wire hangers with a wire cutter and bend them into skinny U-shaped pegs (like croquet wickets, but only an inch or two wide). Then arc them over the cords and hammer them flush into the ground.

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