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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.

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Master the Music

Playlist tips from Michael Antonia, the owner of the Flashdance, a production company in Los Angeles.

Don’t crank the speakers. No one will want to stand near them if they’re blaring. The best setup is four or more speakers, spread out, set at a lower volume. “If you’re using a boom box or an iPod dock, place it above ear level so it’s not blasting directly at guests’ heads,” says Antonia. “And turn it toward the side of the house—you can make it a little louder and the sound will spread out better.”

Go heavy on classics: the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson—songs that people recognize. Keep it upbeat, and mix in some newer tunes here and there. “I like Bon Iver, Beach House, White Stripes, and Elliott Smith,” says Antonia.

Plan for five hours. “Most parties aren’t going to last longer than that, and if there’s anyone who realizes the playlist has started over at hour six, well, they probably need another drink.”

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