The holiday season has arrived! There’s no better time to give yourself a head start with the preparations than now. Here is a HUGE list of life hacks to get you ready for fall’s holiday cooking marathon.

Clean your ovens, now, before November hits.

We cannot stress it enough, oven-cleaning should be done way before a cooking marathon. Since Thanksgiving comes in November, it’s best to get a head start on cleaning your oven.

Attempting to run the self-clean feature on your oven just days before a major event may leave you with a broken oven. The self-clean feature raises the oven temperature to 800 degrees Fahrenheit. This can cause broken fuses or components that require a service call from your appliance technician. So give your oven and your home ample margins in terms of time, and do the cleaning weeks ahead of the baking-fest.

And, just in case you decide to wait until November to clean your oven, here are a couple alternate methods to the self-clean feature. Skip self-clean until after the holidays!

Learn about meal prepping.

The holiday season is busy enough, so why waste time doing extra work in the kitchen? Basic meal prepping will make your weeknights a breeze and your holiday party as easy as pie. Check out this complete beginner’s meal prepping guide by Super Foods Life.

Pile up the recipes.

fall recipes

Yes, everyone loves your staples and your best dishes. But isn’t it high time to change your menu? Start a new tradition, even: You can feature one new dish yearly, to delight your guests. Try these lists for starters.

And just in case you need a little help with the substitutions and other baking hacks, here’s a cheat sheet from Southern Living: 10 Fall Baking Tips.

Learn new kitchen hacks.

Cover your fridge with plastic wrap, for easier cleanup. Slice onions with a piece of bread in your mouth to lessen the tears. Use a stainless bar to rub the smell of onions and garlic off your hands. These and other life hacks should be learned now before you hit the chopping boards and the mixing bowls.

Stock up on the ice.

Don’t forget the ice! Oh, don’t forget the ice. One of the oft-neglected aspects of hosting a party is the stock of free-flowing ice. Remember that an ice maker only has a limited capacity of ice that it can churn out, so it’s best to prepare bags upon bags of pre-made ice to chill everyone’s drinks and more. Nothing kills the mood faster than a lukewarm punch or cocktail. 

Be an ace at food storage.

food storage hacks

Beyond the jams, jellies and curing the meat, there are a few food storage tricks you may not have discovered or figured out yet. Have a ball with this list of great storage ideas:

Now, you’re all set and ready to conquer fall and the holiday season. So take note of our suggestions, bookmark the hacks and recipe lists we’ve curated just for you, and may the odds be ever in your— and your casserole’s—favor!