When planning a menu I like to build a starter and a dessert around the main, avoiding repetition in ingredients and texture – for example, don’t serve creamy-sauced mains with creamy desserts. It helps to make a schedule detailing what can be done ahead and what’s needed at the last minute, and check you won’t end up needing the oven at the same time for two dishes that need to be cooked at different temperatures. The menus listed here are designed to cater for a range of occasions. They include make-ahead preparation tips and instructions for what to do on the day. And remember, it's not an exam – if you're relaxed everyone else will be too.
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