1. Decide what you're going to make before you start making it. Preferably, at least a day ahead of time.
2. Check to see if you have all the ingredients - and the amount needed of each. It's a bummer when you're half way through making dough, only to realize the chocolate chip cookies you're making will only have three tablespoons of chips in the whole recipe, because you thought you had more on hand.
3. Read the recipe. I've learned this the hard way. More than once I've gone to make a recipe for the first time, and not read through it yet, only to realize it will take far longer than I anticipated. Look for things like time to proof, chill, set and so on. Set aside the right amount of time in your schedule.
4. Make sure you have the equipment you'll need: mixers, icing bags, cupcake liners, etc. This year, as part of my holiday baking, I'm borrowing a friend's food processor. My heavy-duty blender will work as a substitute for most things I make, but to make a large enough batch, I'm bringing out the big guns!
5. Do prep before you start mixing. Measure things out if you find it helpful to just dump little bowls into a larger one. If anything needs chopping, peeling or shelling, do that first. If you have a recipe that calls for a preheated oven, turn it on before you start to mix.
6. Bake. And, have fun!
7. Enjoy your delicious, delicious goodies!