Who else is madly trying to avoid those keen people on social media counting down the days until Christmas? I follow a few people on Instagram who are already urging followers to think about homemade gifts, decorations and advent calendars, and even emptying out the freezer in preparation of Christmas baking (that one’s from The Organised Mum Method, who I do actually recommend to anyone who finds it hard to stay on top of cleaning with a full-time job). I often find myself eating a Christmas dinner on a hot summer’s day in the middle of July for the annual Christmas product launches of food wholesalers, so really I should be well prepared. However, I’m about to say it myself… Are you ready for Christmas? There is a reason for it; Christmas dinner, be it one mammoth day, a week of celebrations or a whole season of festive-flavoured dishes, can be a real money spinner, so it pays to think about it nice and early and see the early hard work pay off come December. It’s not just Christmas that you should be celebrating though. Schools are great for celebrating different cultures and the dining room should be no different. Diwali, Eid and Hanukah are all significant festive celebrations that will make children feel inclusive, test their taste buds and challenge your staff too, with some wonderful dishes from all over the world to put your hand to. See our hints and tips for top festive menus on page 26. Elsewhere this month we can reveal the speakers at this year’s EDUcatering Forum. We have a keynote from Dr Jeremy Leach on the theory of nudge psychology, before exploring case studies from across the industry on how to encourage children to make positive food choices. Turn to page 16 for all of the info. Our Big Interview this month is Richard Taylor, managing director of Chartwells, who tells Jane Renton quite frankly how the company has rejected more school contracts than pursued them in the last 12 months. You can find more insight into the workings of the country’s biggest contract caterer on page 12.