If there are 3 things that my Italian-Catholic family does well, it is eat, celebrate, and keep traditions alive. Each year, we gather after Mass on Christmas Eve to eat my Mom's FABULOUS lasagna, as well as salad, and crusty rolls stuffed with Italian sausage purchased from a local Italian grocer. On Christmas morning, the immediate family opens gifts and eats cinnamon rolls and Sister Shubert's Sausage Wrap Rolls. For lunch, we gather with cousins to eat handmade/homemade tortellini soup (with homemade beef broth) along with turkey or ham (or sometimes both), TONS of different casseroles and sides, and of course, dessert. Needless to say, I'm at the gym bright and early on the 26th! Okay, that a lie...we eat leftovers and put away Christmas china on the 26th so maybe more like gym on the 27th.

Sometime around the middle of October, the family starts talking about plans to make and freeze as many recipes as possible so we aren't completely overwhelmed Christmas week. And every year, we do okay to get it done ahead of time although it never fails that we are still running around buying last-minute groceries, gathering to make a few hundred more tortellinis, or omitting a recipe from the menu altogether.

Considering that today is October 15, the conversations should be heating up soon as to who is to prepare what dish (Mom-lasagna, me-healthy dessert,Aunt Angie-filling for the tortellinis, Mana-snickerdoodles, etc.), how many pounds of Italian sausage and short ribs (for the broth) need to be ordered, who will be helping at our family store, Contri Brothers, to fill orders (I'm a pro basket maker and UPS shipper), and so on... This year, I'm also hoping to make goodies like cookies, mini bread loaves, and candy for my friends and coworkers. My goal is to have all of my gifts finished and frozen by November--we'll have to see how it goes...

Be on the lookout beginning November 1 for the MyRecipes Holiday Tip of the Day to help you too get a jump start on your holiday planning. We'll post a tip each day on our Facebook page, Twitter account, and You've-Got-To-Taste-This blog.

What are some tips and tricks that you like to do to get an early jump on the holidays? Any particular recipes that you like to make ahead and freeze?