It is never too early to make the holiday season less stressful, and more enjoyable.

It is a great time to look back on the holidays, and reflect on how you did. I am talking about how you did with meal planning, stress management, and even keeping within your budget. Also, how well did you do sticking to your diet goals? Did you gain a few pounds, maintain, or lose a bit? How can you start planning for this years holidays now so that you can keep your stress level down for when the holidays arrive? Yes, I know I am asking you to think about the holidays already, but when we plan ahead things often go much easier, and there is less stress as a result.

I know the holidays can be a touchy subject for some. Whether your family is far, or near, traditions that you might value are not always seen as important to everyone. As families grow, holidays shift from a few hours to all day, and even weekend events right in the middle of an busy work schedule for a lot of people. So sit down with yourself, and take stock of what went well last year, what did not work out, and what you would like to do this coming year. It is never too early to let family members knows what your plans are so that they can start to plan accordingly.

My husband and I have done a lot to simplify the holidays. With my family living in Ohio, we don't often make it back east so we usually spend either Christmas, or Thanksgiving as just the two of us. This past year my aunt was in town for Thanksgiving. The three of us worked together in the kitchen making hor dourves that stuffed us until 5 or 6pm when we finally ate dinner. We laughed, went out for walks around the neighborhood, and just relaxed. For me it was a great holiday.

For holiday gifts we have paired that down as well; only children under the age of 6 get gifts (the age limit changes yearly as our oldest nephew is 5). Usually we buy something off amazon, and my brother has made it easy by making a wish list for his son. My husband and I ask for no gifts as to us the gift of time with family is all we need. For the most part, we get ourselves what we need throughout the year anyhow.

Holiday meals become a source of stress for a lot of people because of dietary restrictions, and personal preferences. The meal can become a nightmare when trying to come up with something simple that everyone will enjoy. As vegetarians, my husband and I, usually bring our own entree as his family is a meat eating group, and they don't know how to prepare vegetarian options other than a side, or two. I know my sister-in-law becomes a vegetarian when she is with my family unless she brings meat as they all eat “veggie strong” most of the time. Throw in dairy, gluten, and other sensitivities, and suddenly you find that the holiday meal becomes a nightmare for prep, and cooking. Thus if you start planning now you can have a stress free holiday with some new recipes that take into account everyone's needs.

Before we know it, the holidays will be upon us. Take some time now to plan, prepare, and enjoy the holidays before they start. I know I am on the hunt for a new simple, and easy entree that my husband and I can take that does not need much work to prepare, or serve. So start your holiday shopping, and planning now; get your family involved early to help with cost, and time. Lets make the 2015 holidays as stress free as we can.