Your guests will thank you.

When the holiday season approaches, we can't wait for meals with family, gift exchanges, and all the rest. However, there are a few tasks to complete before the celebrations can begin. One of those tasks—the one that can elicit a groan from even the most seasoned host or hostess—is polishing the silver.

Because every Southerner can appreciate an appearance by the Good Silver, it just won't do to have tarnished silver flanking your best china and crystal. You've spent so much time in the kitchen, cleaning house, and readying the menu that the appearance of tarnished silver isn't even a possibility. That's why the silver polishing must be done. It takes time, but when it's gleaming on your table during the holidays, it's all worth it.

It's widely recommended that you polish your silver three to five days in advance of when you need to use it. This is so that it's freshly polished and table-ready once the holiday arrives. However, you can polish the silver up to 3 weeks in advance of when you use it—as long as you can keep it from tarnishing in the meantime.

The main concern—the one that keeps hosts and hostesses dragging their heels when they know silver polishing is on the horizon—is ensuring that you have enough time to get the polishing done. It is time consuming. (That might be an understatement.) That's why you have to clear an afternoon, get comfortable, turn on the TV, a podcast, or an audiobook, and work on the silver ‘til it's shining. If you take the time to do it right, it will be table-ready, and you'll be the hostess with the mostest.

We have all the information you need to know about caring for your silver, so browse How to Clean Silver, Caring for Your Silver, How to Make Your Silver Shine, and The ABCs of Silver for answers to all of your silver-care questions.

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What's your silver-polishing routine? Do you work silver polishing into your holiday prep, or is it shining and table-ready all year round?