I'm not very good at doing fancy starters. By the time I've come up wth a first course, main course and dessert, I just don't feel like putting a lot of work into something for people to nibble on with a drink when they arrive.
One good solution is pumpernickel. Apart from its splendid name, it's not too dry, works really well with lots of other flavours, and looks good as well. Here's a plate I prepared earlier... Cream cheese (in fact I used some boursin I'd made) with tomato and basil, and provolone with tarragon leaves.
I think this photo looks amazingly retro, pure 1950s. It's the colours and the way they contrast. Pumpernickel is very good with smoked salmon, too.
Another lovely word, and a great thing to start with, is guacamole - avocados are easy to get now. Mine is a made-up recipe. I don't put chile or tomato in it, I love the pale green colour and they spoil it. I make it all in the food processor, but rough fork-mashed is good too. The main thing is to taste it as you go.
Finely chop at least 2 cloves of garlic (we like more) and add:
Flesh of 2 large or 3 smaller ripe avocados (they should be soft but not brown, or at least not TOO brown - you can cut out the dark bits)
Strained juice of 1 large lemon (but you may well want more)
A little olive oil (but you don't want it too sloppy to work as a dip or spread)
Process till smooth, or mash together, taste, add more salt and/or lemon juice if needed. Serve with corn chips or crackers, and black olives are good as well.