The Pioneer Woman Has This Advice To Minimize Holiday Meal Stress - Exclusive

Former President of the United States Dwight D. Eisenhower once famously said, as noted by PMI, "In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." When it comes to putting together a large holiday feast, supreme commander of all things kitchen and home Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman, echoes the general's sentiments.

During a recent exclusive interview with Mashed, Drummond had plenty to say about planning and prepping for holiday gatherings, but she made it clear that one thing we all need to remember is that it's okay if the occasion doesn't go 100% according to plan. "Let's not put pressure on ourselves. Don't be afraid to use cute holiday paper plates and napkins. Your guests and family will remember the laughs and the good times, they're not going to remember your picture-perfect table," she said. "After the last two years we've had, your family is going to remember how much fun these gatherings were. ... being together, as we all would probably agree, is what it's all about these days."

Drummond definitely has the right intent. That being said, with proper planning, that holiday feast doesn't need to lead to headache or heartache for the hosts. "Do as much [prep and cooking] as you can ahead of time. ... Start prepping veggies the day or two before the meal, measure the ingredients, make pie crusts ahead of time and put them in the freezer or fridge," Drummond advised, adding to focus on things that you can make the day before, such as charcuterie and salads. "I've learned the hard way through the years that if you're hosting a pretty big gathering or making a big meal, if you choose recipes that are all last-minute, it's going to result in chaos and you don't want your guests to get that vibe."

Ree Drummond's favorite stress-free holiday dishes

As you plan ahead for a holiday gathering, choosing dishes that are easy to make and that can be prepped well ahead of time is critical in The Pioneer Woman's book. (And you can find plenty of recipes in her cookbooks, by the way!) In some cases, getting dishes ready ahead of time can even make the foods tastier, too, Drummond said during an interview with Mashed.

"I have a mashed potato casserole dish that I make two days before Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, and it just saves so much time on the day of the get together," Drummond noted, adding that it's one of her favorite dishes for this time of year. "If you're doing casseroles, casseroles are amazing because you can make almost any [one] up to two days before and put it in the fridge unbaked, and then take it out a couple hours before the party to bring it to room temperature, and then bake it. ... They're almost better if you make them a couple days ahead of time and let them sit in the fridge and get more delicious."

All the planning and prepping will not only reduce your workload in the kitchen on the day of the gathering, but it will afford you the opportunity to do something else, too, that's even more important, Drummond said — visit with friends and family. "[Preparation] makes the holiday meal and holiday gathering not just pleasant for me, but pleasant for my guests because I can talk, I can visit. ... [So] pre-make, pre-prep, plan!"

To help get those holiday dishes ready, check out the new Pioneer Woman Holiday Collection at Walmart and follow Ree Drummond at The Pioneer Woman site.