5 Things You Can Do Now for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving Feast

One of the busiest days of the year for plumbers isn't Super Bowl Sunday, with its fabled toilet-busting bathroom-break halftime. No, it's actually the day after Turkey Day, with its garbage disposer mishaps, clogged sinks, and dishwasher meltdowns. The good news is, with a little advance planning and our tried-and-true tips, you can avoid most disasters this holiday-and actually enjoy dinner with friends and family. Here are our top 5 tips to hosting a stress-free Thanksgiving.

(See our full Thanksgiving Day Survival Guide at thisoldhouse.com)

1. Make Sure Your Oven is Ready for Prime Time
It may seem counterintuitive, but don't run your oven's self-clean cycle in the days before cooking, because the cycle is so stressful on the appliance, it could cause an older model to break down just when you need it most. Instead, use a damp cloth to wipe around the burner elements and and save the big cleanup until you're lunching on leftovers.

Also make sure your oven's temperature gauge is functioning properly by picking up an oven thermometer at the grocery store. Place the thermometer in a middle rack, set the oven to 350, and wait for it to warm up. If the thermometer read out matches the temperature you chose, all is well. You'll also want to check door seals and gaskets. If they don't provide a proper seal, the oven can lose heat and waste energy.

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2. Clear Any Clogged Drain
Roto-Rooter reports that that day after Thanksgiving is the single busiest day of the year for their service technicians. Armed with the right tools and techniques, you can easily unplug stopped-up drains without having to call in a pro. All plumbing systems develop clogs-there's no way to avoid it. Here's how to clear stubborn clogs in a kitchen sink, bathtub, toilet and floor drain.

MORE: DIY Tips & Tricks the Pros DON'T Want You to Know

3. Do Basic Appliance Maintenance and Cleaning
If all of your appliances are in good working order, take some time to do some basic cleaning and yearly maintenance.

Clean the condenser coils. They're usually located on the bottom, back, or top of the refrigerator. Unplug the fridge, then use a coil brush to remove dust and dirt. See more at GEAppliances.

Wipe down the entire interior and door gaskets with 2 tablespoons of baking soda dissolved in one quart of water. Then rinse with water. Apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to the gasket at the hinge side to keep it pliable.

To clean the water and ice dispenser, soak the spill shelf for 30 minutes in undiluted vinegar. The area behind the glass cradle can be wiped clean with vinegar water or a mild soap and water solution. The ice chute can be cleaned with mild soap and water and a soft cloth.

To clean stainless-steel tubs, remove all dishes and utensils, do not add detergent, and select the potscrubber cycle. Start the dishwasher and allow it to run 15 to 20 minutes (until it gets to the main wash). Open the door and pour 2 cups of white vinegar into the bottom of the dishwasher. Close door and allow the dishwasher to complete the cycle. To clean plastic tubs, use a citric acid wash: Fill the detergent cup with 3 to 4 ounces of citric acid crystals and close the cup. Run through a normal wash cycle, and follow up with another wash cycle using dishwasher detergent.

For caked-on foods, heat one cup of water on full power for three minutes. The heat and steam help to soften the food. Let it stand for five minutes before wiping it clean. Use a non-abrasive scrubbing pad and mild dish washing liquid on stubborn stains. For stainless steel microwave interiors, use a soapy plastic scouring pad.

MORE: 9 Ways to Cook a Turkey

4. Clean Out the Fridge
About a week before the big day, set aside an afternoon to clear out all old food items from your pantry, fridge, and freezer. Not only will you create more room for all those holiday culinary creations, but you'll also get rid of all those expired or unwanted things you've forgotten about that are now taking up valuable shelf space.

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5. Carve Out More Storage
Storage space is always at premium this time of year when you have tons of canned goods on hand. So if you are thinking of doing any kitchen organization upgrades, now's the perfect time. Add temporary storage and food prep space with an inexpensive rolling island or rethinking the space you have. For example, the laundry room makes a great temporary pantry for overflowing food. You can optimize base cabinets with sliding shelves, add levels to your freezer, and more.

MORE: Double the Storage in Your Kitchen Without Renovating