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The holidays are stressful, no matter how many parties and events we attend, no matter how good the gifts we get wind up being. No matter how much gala and festivity surrounds this time of year, the stress of preparation, planning, traveling, cooking, and more can really wear a person down.

With that in mind, here are few tips on surviving holiday bootcamp: Thanksgiving. Keep in mind you’re going to see these people again in a matter of weeks so any mistakes made at this stage can be avoided later.

#1: Plan Ahead

On Thanksgiving day, what are you planning to contribute to the meal? How is dinner being served – around the table or buffet style? Knowing details like this make it easier to plan your contribution. If left to your own devices, please don’t opt to bring alcohol. There is likely to be plenty flowing already.

Shop for your ingredients as far ahead as possible. Save only perishables for the last minute. Have all recipes pulled and ready to go before prepping anything. Some good planning at this stage will save you a considerable amount of stress later.

#2: Prepare to Greet the Relatives

There will no doubt be people at this gathering with whom you don’t exactly see eye-to-eye. Don’t be the one who steers conversations in certain directions and have a neutral response ready for any ill-placed conversation starters.

Expect tension going in and just accept that it’s going to be there. A good dose of ignoring and minding your own business when someone’s words strike a nerve can save everybody’s holiday. Remember that.

#3: Enjoy the Day

Relax those shoulders. Sit back enjoy the assault of comfort food still heavy on your palate. Keep in mind that watching football with the uncles is voluntary, not mandatory (as is playing football with them).

You showed up with a very nice squash tart that came out perfectly, uncle Bobby didn’t tell his hole-in-one story for a change, and the turkey is making you sleepy. If dinner is over and no food has been thrown at anyone, chalk it up to success.

Remember, Thanksgiving is where we get our holiday legs every year so approach it with the right attitude (and bring the most impressive dessert – trust us, it helps). Be well prepared. Contribute something yummy. Most importantly, remember that family is always family and there’s a reason we do this every year.