Decor: Function Over Form
Design should be functional, says Kyle Schuneman, a Los Angeles–based interior designer who regularly offers style advice on television. For example, he says, backyard parties tend to go into the night, so lighting trees with strategically placed lights doesn't just look cool, but it also helps people find their way in the dark. Tiki torches are kitschy and fun, and they keep mosquitos at bay. Similarly, smart design mitigates a typical party curse, the dreaded bottleneck, where guests cluster in a single area rather than circulating through the entire space. Schuneman recommends dividing the yard into multiple zones that encourage people to gather in smaller groups. A bar here, a nook with chairs and a table there, a fire pit, platters of food everywhere, a grill station. Properly separated, they'll encourage flow and constant mingling, hallmarks of a superlative party.