Here are a few tips that can go a long way toward making this Thanksgiving as smooth and stress-free as possible

I feel like I have Thanksgiving on my mind all year. When I see a yummy recipe in a magazine, I set it aside for Thanksgiving. When we house-hunt, I think about guest parking for family and friends for Thanksgiving. When I start marathon training, I have to bite my tongue asking others about whether they’ll run the Turkey Trot until at least November rolls around. (The Turkey Trot is a 10-mile run Thanksgiving morning that’s recently become as much a part of the holiday for me as the turkey.)

For me, there’s nothing better than a day dedicated to family and friends sharing comfort food, watching football and playing games. When I was little, we always hosted at my parents’ house. Now that I’m older, I host. I start preparing weeks in advance by buying the turkey early, and I try to do a little bit each day leading up to the big one. But little family shortcuts, which we’ve often kept secret, have always helped me along the way. Now, in the spirit of sharing, I’ll let you in on some of the secret tips:


1. Store bread and baked goods in the microwave. You don’t have to wait until the last minute to bake goods or buy bread, just because you have nowhere to store them. The microwave is airtight, so it keeps food items fresher than sitting on the counter. Plus, unwelcome critters such as mice, cockroaches and ants won’t get to food in there. If your microwave is full, the oven works well, too. Just don’t forget your goods are in there before turning it on!

2. Forget the wine fridge. Put wine in the freezer for 10 minutes before serving. It will cool the wine to the perfect temperature, and no one will ever guess it.

3. Clean the inside of your microwave by microwaving a bowl of water for three minutes and 30 seconds. The water will soften hardened food chunks inside. Then, use a towel to wipe it down. To coerce stubborn pieces, carefully dip the towel in the hot water before wiping.

4. Cook bacon in a waffle iron. Okay, this tip isn’t from family, it’s from the Food Network, but nonetheless, still helpful. The waffle iron saves time cooking and cleaning and also keeps the bacon separated from the grease.

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