If you’re forgoing the trek home for Thanksgiving and opting instead for a Friendsgiving with your closest pals far, far away from the nightmarish political discourse that might haunt many families this holiday season, you’re likely in the throes of planning your Friendsgiving festivities.

There’s plenty to sort out, from the food to how everyone’s going to fit around your table, but there’s one element that you ought not overlook: the music.

Trusting the Spotify playlists is a mistake. Some of them make for decent starting points, but you deserve better than the “Feel Good Dinner” or “Dinner With Friends” playlists. They’re impersonal, full of questionable picks, and they play way to close to a single genre to be any fun.

You’re better off making your own. If making a several hours-long playlist for your festivities seems daunting, here’s a quick-start guide, along with our Friendsgiving picks to help get you started.

Read the Room

If you know your guests pretty well, you probably have a relatively good idea of what they listen to, at least on a general level. If you’re confident that you all have some common ground when it comes to taste, play to that. Maybe your friend group is really into hip-hop, maybe you all bond over a love of old funk, maybe it’s ‘80s hair metal or Lilith Fair alumni. Whatever it is, use it as a starting point.

If you don’t have any obvious common ground, you have an opportunity to cover a lot of genres to make sure there’s something for everyone. So:

Give It Variety

You’ve got decades worth of musical history to choose from, don’t limit yourself. Playlists aren’t delicate, and if you can find a way to include a wide variety, your playlist is going to be richer for it. Not everyone likes the same music, so taking full advantage of the over half a century’s worth of popular music can help you guarantee that no one’s sitting at the table song after song wishing they could put their headphones in without being rude.

Don’t Go Obscure

Sure, it’s kind of a high when someone asks about a little-known B-side on your playlist or camps out by your speakers so that Shazam can get a clear read on your picks, but loading up a Friendsgiving playlist with obscure titles is a mistake. Listening to a bunch of music you’ve never heard before is no fun, particularly if it’s not your jam. Don’t subject your guests to that. You don’t have to go with all pop music, but picking some songs that everyone knows can go a long way toward making everyone feel included, even if they’re your best friend’s new girlfriend who’s only hung out with the group a few times.Your playlist is there to foster a solid atmosphere, not to prove that you have great taste. You can get away with a vanity pick or two but keep it to a minimum.

Take the Time to Sequence

Sequencing is a pain in the ass and it’s almost always the part of the process that takes the longest, but if you’ve leaned into variety, Shuffle is not your friend. Furthermore, you should fully expect that at least one of your guests is going to want to request a song. And because nobody likes a DJ Dictator, it’s chill to accommodate those requests.

If you’ve been relying on Shuffle, youre going to find yourself hearing the same song two or more times when you go back to your playlist after indulging someone’s BeeGees request. Taking the time to sequence means that you can pick up where you left off and keep the selection fresh.

Test It

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that some of the songs that seemed like a good choice when you were making your playlist are going to fall flat in the room. So after you make your playlist, test it. Put it on while you do some last-minute cleaning or cooking. You’re looking for smooth transitions and a steady, semi-constant upbeat rhythm to your choices.

Sudden hiccups — like “In the Air Tonight” between “No Diggity” and “Born to Run” — will stick out and you can rearrange or delete as needed. If there’s a song that seems just a tad too loud, too fast, too slow, or too abrasive for the vibe your looking to nurture, save it for another playlist.

Mind the Volume

This ones easy: Dont turn it up too loud. Your guests are there to talk to you, not listen to your music.

Happy playlist-making!

Megan is a freelance writer whose work has appeared on WIRED, Slate, Travel + Leisure and GigaOm. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking, brewing beer, and extolling the virtues of The Cranberries.