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App Smart: Easing Thanksgiving Pressure on Hosts, Cooks and Guests


THANKSGIVING requires a lot of planning, but apps can help keep preparations on track, keep guests happy and even keep the children from causing chaos as you try to cook the perfect turkey.

If you are looking to shake up your menu or for inspiration to customize a classic dish, then the Pinterest app is an endless source of ideas.

While the way Pinterest is used has evolved over the years, its basic premise has remained the same: People download the app, create an account, then surf the web as they normally would. When they spot something interesting, they tap the “pin” icon. The app collects pinned websites on users’ profiles, where they are marked automatically with keywords so that other people can find them.

For Thanksgiving, people are more likely to use Pinterest as a source of inspiration than as a pinboard for internet findings. Just enter search terms like “how long to cook a turkey” and then comb through the results — image-heavy snippets of web pages that other people found interesting and pinned.

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Bounden is a silly dancelike game for two players, who each hold an end of the phone and maneuver it to play.

Pinterest can be a great source of cooking guidance and decoration ideas. The app is free for iOS and Android.

While the cooks are busy in the kitchen, all sorts of mayhem can happen in the rest of the house. At least one app aims to keep adults busy, and others to occupy the children.

Give adults the Vivino app, and point them toward your wine collection to find the bottles that will pair best with your menu.

Vivino is like a digital sommelier. You can snap a photo of a wine label and the app will search for details about that bottle. When it finds a match, it returns all sorts of useful information not on the label, including reviews by other users and suggested food pairings.

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Pinterest is useful for recipes and inspiration for hosts.

If you don’t have the right wine on hand, the app can also tell you where you may be able to buy some nearby, and it can suggest wines based on your tastes, budget and menu. Vivino is wrapped in an elegant and easy-to-use interface, and it’s free for iOS and Android.

To keep younger guests busy, try an entertainment app like Bounden. It guides you through dance moves and uses the sensors in the phone to detect how well you are following along. The catch is that you are supposed to dance with a partner, each of you holding one end of the phone. The resulting tangles and crashes are often hilarious.

Bounden is $3 for iOS and Android.

To get the whole family involved, there is the Reverse Charades app. It does more or less what you would expect from a game of charades, with one big difference: Instead of having one player pantomime “movie,” “two words,” and so on, while everyone else guesses, Reverse Charades pits a team of gesticulators against a single guesser.

The app is free for iOS and Android, but it hasn’t been updated in a while.

Since Thanksgiving is a family occasion, arguments are almost inevitable. There’s an app for that too, it turns out.

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Vivino is like a digital sommelier. Snap a photo of a wine label and the app supplies details about the wine, including reviews and pairing suggestions.

Roundom is a random-decision-making app that might help resolve disputes with a pinch of fun. The app lets you choose a format, like a Magic 8-Ball, a set of dice or a customized random decision spinner with words to match your needs — “Grandpa’s pumpkin pie recipe,” say, or “Jenny’s napkin-folding pattern.” Roundom is free for iOS.

Lastly, to keep track of the timing of dozens of things at once on Thanksgiving — when to baste the turkey, when to roast the vegetables, when to fetch a guest from the airport — consider Timeglass Timer. This is a relatively new and elegant iOS app that lets you run multiple timers simultaneously and check on the status of each of them at a glance. It’s free for iOS.

MultiTimer, also free, is another iOS option. If you are an Android user, check out Timer by Go Dev Team, which is also free and has an attractive, minimalist design.

Quick Call

The Epicurious app has always been useful as a cooking assistant, particularly at Thanksgiving. Now the free app has been given a makeover on iOS with a refreshed interface, better search and more video series to help users discover new recipes.

There are lots of iMessage sticker packs with a Thanksgiving theme, but perhaps the most elegant is the Thanksgiving for iMessage app by Tecsoft. This $1 app has a number of attractive calligraphy-based stickers in seasonal colors with messages like “Be kind, be thoughtful” to make your texts special.

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