Step five: Print out maps of departure and connecting airports and study them: if they change gates or terminals on you, this could be a real time-saver. You can also find great lunch spots, your airport's VIP lounge (if you're stuck, consider buying a day-pass), and where you can board the inter-terminal trams. A clear "X marks the spot" document is so much easier than trying to find (and decipher) an "info" board near your gate.
Since you'll probably be getting up at dawn, lay out wear-on-the-plane clothes, boarding pass, reading material, coat and maybe a laptop (might as well -- Google is providing free WiFi to 47 airports over the holidays). Then, confirm your transportation arrangements -- you'll want to give yourself extra time to get to the airport in case traffic is a mess. And be there at least an hour before your flight leaves.
With luck, all goes well. If there are delays, you can text the folks at home (or e-mail them from the plane, if your aircraft is equipped with WiFi,) in order to warn them not to set out for the airport just yet.
And what about unexpected storms -- the kind that mess with your airport (and all the other airports that connect to yours)? Unfortunately, all the preparation in the world isn't going to help there -- some things cannot be controlled.
So if your plane is running late, just shrug it off. Nothing you can do. Lean back, kick your shoes off, listen to the iPod (you did charge those batteries, didn't you?) and just remember: leftover turkey is generally even tastier than the original.
This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.
Rick Seaney is one of the country's leading experts on airfare, giving interviews and analysis to news organizations, including ABC News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The Associated Press and Bloomberg. His Web site FareCompare.com offers consumers free, new-generation software, combined with expert insider tips to find the best airline ticket deal.