And boy, did I need them.

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Mamas everywhere can un-clutch their pearls: There are still brides who want sterling silverware on their registries. I happen to be one of them. Since gathering has looked a lot different lately, my new husband and I haven't gotten very many chances to use the beautiful silverware we received. In anticipation of the holidays, though, I need to get it shining. Since I admittedly have no clue what I'm doing, I called on an expert to guide me into a season of hosting with my silver. North Carolina-based Replacements, Ltd. product specialist Julie Robbins has just the know-how I needed.  

The good news is that I won't have to pencil in "polish silver" the same day I'm roasting a turkey (or picking one up).

Tasia Malakasis Thanksgiving Table Place Setting
Credit: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Tasia Malakasis

"You can polish your silver days or weeks in advance of your event," Robbins says. "It's a great item to mark off your list so you can focus on your other preparations."

When it comes time to get my shine on, I shouldn't be too intimidated. "My personal favorite [polishing method] is a silver foam that is applied with a damp cloth and rinsed off," Robbins says.

Which foam, though? We recommend products from Goddard's or Hagerty, two trusted brands that have both been around since the 1800s.

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Goddards Silver Polish Foam
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Hagerty Silver Foam
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When applying the foam, Robbins says to avoid any abrasive materials that can scratch your silver. Even sponges or toothbrushes can leave a mark on the soft metal. Instead, use a soft, clean (no debris) cloth.

"Microfiber is good, but a soft dish cloth, handkerchief, or (my favorite) old fashioned cloth diaper is just fine," she says. Cloth diapers—who knew?!

Once my family has admired my beautiful silverware, enjoyed their turkey I didn't bake, and gone home, it's time to clean the silver. I know better than to put it in the dishwasher (even though you technically can—with a few rules), but I wanted to know the absolute best way to wash it to ensure it lasts.

"We recommend handwashing your sterling with a gentle dishwashing soap, making sure all food residue is removed," Robbins says. "Avoid lemon detergents because of acidity, as well as any abrasive cleaners."

Even though it's tempting to leave the dishes 'til the next day or simply later in the evening, try to get your silver clean soon after using it. Salt and acidic foods can stain or tarnish your sterling, so don't leave it sitting in a dish with either of those, especially. After washing, dry your silver with the same type of soft cloth you would polish it with.

Once the silver is clean and shiny, it's time for both of us to go to bed. Here's how best to store it: "Store clean, dry silver in a tarnish-resistant flannel-lined chest or pouches," Robbins says. "If you don't have those, wrap pieces in soft cloth (such as muslin) and place in plastic bags or bins."

Since my silver has been lying in wait for its grand debut at a special occasion, one of the best pieces of advice Robbins left me with was perhaps the most surprising (to me, at least).

"We stand by our 'use the good stuff' mantra—the easiest way to prevent tarnish is frequent use," she says. "If you use your sterling all the time, it will rarely need polish."

Well folks, guess whose favorite sheet pan supper is getting 'the good stuff' treatment tonight?