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Will you be hosting friends or families for a relaxing dinner party after the rush of the holidays fades? Winter is a wonderful time for catching up, before warm weather beckons your would-be guests outside for family picnics and summer travel. Fill your dinner guests with a warm, hearty menu that is both flavorful and simple.

To Start

Begin your meal with cheesy dips paired with crostini, seeded crackers and apple slices. Baked brie topped with caramelized onion or a red wine glaze is easy to pop into the oven shortly before your guests arrive, as is spinach and artichoke dip.

For a winter dinner party menu, you can serve soup or salad. Rich soups, such as sweet potato, butternut squash or tomato fennel, warm up guests when they arrive. You could also start with a bright winter salad with arugula and citrus.

Your Main Course

Elevated comfort food makes a satisfying main course in your wintertime party menu. Make a lasagna with sausage to add flavor. Slow roasted pork, pot roast or beef stew can be prepared in the morning and spend all day cooking. You could also oven roast chicken thighs with tomatoes and kale or root vegetables for a winter menu that only requires one sheet pan.

Vegetarian options can also be hearty. Homemade mac and cheese made with a mix of high-quality cheeses is a serious upgrade over the boxed variety. You could also serve spaghetti in a chunky tomato sauce. Vegetables and a quick dressing tossed with farro make a filling salad. Each of these vegetarian options can also be served as sides.

Other seasonal sides include mashed parsnips, roasted root vegetables, shaved Brussels sprouts or a rustic vegetable tart.

For Dessert

Cold winter weather calls for rich desserts. For something light and sweet, bake cored apples sprinkled with cinnamon until soft. More indulgent options include affogatos made with locally roasted espresso, ganache-filled chocolate cake or spicy gingerbread.