I have borrowed this book so many times from my sister-in-law that I finally bought my own copy. While there are certainly recipes here that are more complicated, there are plenty that are easy, can be prepared several days before the party, and always get rave reviews from party guests. Plus the author gives good tips for us non-professionals about figuring quantities for parties, how to store the foods properly (so you can indeed prepare items in advance), suggestions on displaying each dish attractively, etc. The book not only includes pictures showing what the final dish should look like, but also has a whole chapter at the end on techniques for things like dealing with chocolate, pastry, pizza dough, and more--complete with pictures. Regarding the other reviewers' concerns about these recipes being too complicated for a non-professional, I think this book can help a non-professional put on a party that looks like it was catered, you just have to keep 2 things in mind as you plan your party & develop the menu: 1) Choose your recipes carefully, with most recipes requiring minimal preparation and only 1 or 2 requiring more labor, plus make sure that most of your recipes can be prepared a day or more ahead and only 1 or 2 that must be done right before the party. 2) It's always safer & less stressful if you test any recipe in advance rather than experimenting when the pressure is on.