One of the most stressful times of the year is coming up. Here are a few pointers for a low stress holiday season.

Make Out a Menu

My mother had a habit of making things more difficult than they needed to be. Especially big holiday meals. She took a lot of it on herself and sometimes bit off more than she could chew. Her heart was in the right place, but sometimes I think it stopped her from being able to enjoy the day. Know exactly what you'd like to serve, then pare it down and simplify it. If you look at something on the list and it has a bunch of ingredients, skip it. Do you really need a winter vegetable bake with squash, potatoes, parsnips, rutabagas and shallot? No. Do you need a torn chicory salad? No. Mashed potatoes and a bagged salad are fine. In fact, skip the salad all together and offer corn or squash instead. Also, don't test out a new recipe on Thanksgiving. We're your relatives not guinea pigs.

Make Out a Shopping List

Go over every single recipe and make out a shopping list. I'm anal retentive, so I break down my shopping lists into aisle by aisle domination. Of course, it likely helps that I know my grocery stores like the palm of my hand. When you're writing down everything you're going to need, write everything down at once and then group it into produce, dry goods, canned goods, dairy, frozen foods, etc so you aren't running around Coborn's like a fool. Also, try and avoid peak shopping times like after school, after work and over the lunch hour. Also, Target gets delivery trucks on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Make Out a Timing List

If you know you want the bird on the table at a certain time, make that your goal and work backward from there by making a list. Know how long your turkey needs to cook and rest, how long the potatoes need to boil, what can be made on the stove, what can be made ahead of time, what can cook while the turkey rests, etc. That way you aren't scrambling around to get everything done. It's also a good idea to see what can be done in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. If you can slice and dice Wednesday, do it. If you can make the cheesy potatoes Tuesday and keep them in the fridge, do it.

Keep the table settings, appetizers, centerpieces and place cards simple and don't be afraid to assign duties to others in the house.