Thanksgiving smartphone apps you should gobble up

(CNN) -- When someone says "Thanksgiving and apps," you probably think appetizers, not applications.

It's not as natural a combo as, say, turkey and dressing or Detroit Lions and "losing in front of a national audience," is it? (We know -- those Lions are actually pretty good this year. Old habits die hard.)

But in late 2011, if it exists, you can bet there's a host of mobile apps designed to help with it.

And, let's be honest: Thanksgiving is a holiday with lots of moving parts. From ambitious cooking experiments to dealing with in-laws to mapping Black Friday shopping strategies, it can be a stressful day. Even if you're not a Detroit Lions fan. (Sorry ... did it again.)

So, feeling prematurely full of holiday cheer, we've compiled a few apps that might help make your Turkey Day a good one.

No need to thanks us ... just save us a drumstick.

(Bonus: If, despite all this digital help, things go horribly awry, don't fret. Whether it's a scorched bird or a visit from Bumpus's hounds, you can still load up the family "Christmas Story" style, and head out for a Chinese feast or other dinner on the town, using apps like Open Table, UrbanSpoon and Foodspotting.)

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

The departments store's annual march through the streets of New York has become as much a part of the Thanksgiving tradition as pilgrims and pumpkin pie.

While much of the app is geared toward folks actually attending the parade, there are features that can be helpful even if you're watching from home in a tryptophan haze.

It provides a complete list of participants in the parade, along with their marching order, a history of the event and traffic camera video that shows more views than just those available on TV. If you happen to be in the crowd, it offers info like a detailed map, nearby dining spots and, perhaps most importantly, the location of public restrooms.

Platform: iOS and Android

Use: Make sure to not miss Snoopy

The Professional Chef

Yes, this is a $50 app. (OK, $49.99, but you figure out something to do with that digital penny.)

And it's iPad only. But if you're serious about your kitchen pursuits, this one might just be worth it, and not just for ways to craft haute cuisine giblet gravy.

From the Culinary Institute of America, Professional Chef is designed to maximize what the tablet computer can do. Yes, there are tons of recipes. But there are also instructional videos with Culinary Institute chefs, discussion boards, nearly 750 photos and the ability to highlight and make notes on your favorites.

Downloading the app allows you access to one free chapter (we're not sure if "My Turkey, My Self" is in there), and individual chapters can be purchased for $2.99.

If you're on an even tighter budget, check out Epicurious -- it's free.

Platform: iPad only

Use: Cranberry sauce that would make Richard Blaise proud

Thanksgiving Coloring Book

This one's kind of silly, but hear us out.

While you're slaving over a hot stove, the last thing you need is little Jimmy or Susie underfoot.

So break out your mobile device and give them something to do that's both festive and time-consuming.

In effect, the kids will be able to do virtual finger-painting that won't leave a mess all over the dinner table, which is soon to be groaning under the weight of your bountiful feast.

In this free app, there are 60 colors to choose from to paint turkeys, pumpkins, pilgrims and the like. You can shake your device Etch-A-Sketch style to start over and, when you're done, save your child's master work to a gallery or share it via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr.

Platform: iPhone, iPad and Android

Use: Making Pilgrims purple

Turkey Plucker

It's a game called Turkey Plucker. Three guesses what you do.

If you guessed "pluck a turkey," congratulations. You have at least a basic grasp on the English language, and you clearly understand the remarkable range of possibilities in the app-development world.

Promising "realistic feather-falling action," this free, touch-based game makes "Angry Birds" look like "Civilization V" in terms of complexity. But that might be just the sort of challenge you're looking for on Thanksgiving day.

You can also share your score on Facebook, as the app's description says, to "brag how fast of a plucker you are."

Platform: iOS, Android

Use: Useless. But isn't that the point?

T.G.I. Black Friday

OK, it kind of makes us cringe to acknowledge it. But while the rest of us are trying to decide whether we have room to cram one more slice of pumpkin pie down our gullets, some of you will already be plotting the next day's orgy of crass ... er ... holiday consumerism.

If the concept

of hitting the mall at 4 a.m. doesn't make you curl up into a little ball, there are several apps to help craft your plan of attack.

T.G.I. Black Friday helps you find more than 10,000 advertised Black-Friday deals from major retailers like Best Buy, Target and Sears -- in some cases before those ads appear elsewhere.

The app lets you create a personal shopping list, receive notifications when new deals you may like appear and even share deals with friends on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

It's also set up to let you find online deals -- a plus for those of us reluctant to leave the house.

Platform: iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, Android

Use: Maxing out your credit card


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