I'm having a fall dinner party on Saturday, and I'm a little stuck on what to serve for light apps and my first course. My main course is going to be braised short ribs over potato/parsnip mash, and my dessert is going to be a creme brulee of a yet-undecided flavor. As such, I need an idea for some apps and a first course, but nothing that's going to be too heavy. I would like it very much if everyone did not immediately fall asleep after dinner.

For apps, I was thinking maybe just a few different kinds of crostini? If you have favorite crostini recipes, throw them at me (I am also happy for any other suggestions). But I think where I'm really stuck is first course. Soup? Salad? I want it to be kind of fancy, but not anything with like beef cheek or duck or something in it.

What say you, my doves? I would (as always) really appreciate your collective wisdom.