Your Make-Ahead Guide to Thanksgiving Dinner
Hosting Thanksgiving dinner can be one of the most flustering things you ever do. Between roasting a perfectly juicy turkey, mashing potatoes to a perfect smoothness, and whisking together a bomb cranberry sauce, something is likely to go wrong. And, if you’re hosting family, you *know* someone is going to call you out on it. The good news? Thanksgiving turmoil is totally preventable. With some smart planning, you will SLAY. Show your fam who the real MVP is this holiday season with these helpful tips.
a month before thanksgiving
Before you start planning the dinner in great detail, decide whether or not you want this to be a potluck-style dinner or not. There’s no shame in it either way. If you *do* decide to run the show on your own, don’t deny any extra help that might be offered — even if you have everything precisely planned out. An extra side dish, appetizer, or bottle of wine certainly won’t hurt.
Since many of the dishes you whip up to accompany your turkey can be made in advance, take advantage. Doing so alleviates a lot of pressure and stress. You can make up freezer-friendly meals up to two weeks before Turkey Day — like mashed potatoes, pie shells, casseroles, cranberry sauce, and even gravy! (Just don’t forget to take them out the day before.)
the weekend before thanksgiving
First and foremost, if you’ve purchased a frozen turkey, start thawing it in the fridge on Sunday and, if you’re brining it, start that process on Monday or Tuesday. Aside from thawing your bird, this weekend should be dedicated to cleaning, groceries (don’t forget ice!), organizing, and some prep. Clean out your fridge, pull out your serving dishes, and decide which platters and bowls will carry what. If you’re lacking in servingware, ask your relatives to bring some. The last thing you want to do is set your green beans out in a plastic container among ornate bowls and platters.
Monday and Tuesday Prep
Use Monday and Tuesday to deal with tedious tasks like chopping vegetables, cutting bread for stuffing, and toasting nuts. Additionally, you can remove any of your made-ahead sides from the freezer so they can start to defrost. If you didn’t whip up your gravy and cranberry sauce ahead of time and freeze them, Tuesday would be a great time to get those made up. They will keep in the fridge until Thursday just fine.
The day before thanksgiving
Now you’re down to the wire, so make your desserts, stuffing, and any sides or casseroles you haven’t already made. You can also prepare your leafy salads and homespun dressing, but don’t combine the two until serving time. Last but not least, take the evening to set the table. This may seem a little overboard as far as prepping in advance goes, but you’ll thank yourself.
In the morning, make yourself a timeline of what items you want to heat up and when, like your casseroles, sides, and of course your turkey. Cooking times will vary depending on what types of casseroles you’re baking and how much your turkey weighs, etc. While things cook and heat up, you can arrange the bar setup for cocktails, dump ice into coolers for your cold brews, and lay out any appetizers and cheese plates until your guests arrive.
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Welcome to Selfmade Finance School, our new money series with Block Advisors to help small business owners with their tax, bookkeeping, and payroll needs year-round. This week, we explore the tax implications of bringing family members into your business.
The question for today is this: Does hiring your family members make sense for your business? Let me be clear. This is not a piece about whether hiring your family members makes sense for your relationships with those family members. As someone who is part of a family business, I could fill up a lot more than 600 words on my opinions about that. For today's purposes, we focus on whether it makes sense from an overall "good business and tax implication" perspective. As it turns out, there is a decent amount of tax nuance when it comes to employing your family. Let's break it down based on relationship to the employee:
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Spouses Who Are In Business Together
Personally, if I had to be in business with my husband, it would not go well. However, many couples build viable, strong businesses together and I say, good for them! Depending on how you have your business entity structured, it will make a big difference on the tax treatment of you and your spouse working as partners. Because a business jointly owned and operated by a married couple is generally treated as a partnership for Federal tax purposes, the spouses must comply with filing and record keeping requirements imposed on partnerships and their partners. The election to file two Schedule C (Form 1040) forms, (one for each spouse) permits certain married co-owners to avoid filing partnership returns, provided that each spouse separately reports a share of all the businesses' items of income, gain, loss, deduction, and credit. Under the election, both spouses will be subject to self-employment tax and on net earnings from self-employment and receive credit for Social Security earnings.
One Spouse Employs Another
If you have a dynamic where your spouse is an employee of your business, then your spouse's wages are subject to income tax withholding, Social Security and Medicare taxes. If you are self-employed (not a corporation or a partnership), your spouse's pay does not have to be included in your federal unemployment tax account (FUTA) contributions and payments. However, if your business is a corporation or a partnership you must include that spouse's pay in your unemployment tax contribution calculation.
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You Employ Your Child
First, let's be clear. I work in my family business, but I am an adult, so I am treated just like a normal employee. However, if you, for example, run a family restaurant and want to hire your children under 18 to work for you, there are some tax benefits. But first, you should check with your state for rules on how many hours minors can work (in non-agricultural jobs) and reference the Fair Labor Standards Act for information on limitations on the kinds of work children can perform.
"This is an often overlooked or under-utilized strategy. Paying your children for true services they provide in your business can be a powerful tax-saving tool," says Cathi Reed, Block Advisors Regional Director. "If you are a sole-proprietorship or single member LLC, and the child is less than 18 years of age, the business is not required to withhold FICA or payroll taxes. The child can use his or her standard deduction against income you pay."
You Hire Your Parent
Oh dear. If you are brave enough to do this, know that you will need to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on your parent's wages and make the appropriate withholdings, but you don't have to pay unemployment taxes. Now all you have to do is convince your parent that you are the boss. Have fun with that!
Is Hiring Family Members Worth It For The Tax Benefits?
"There are some positive tax advantages to hiring family members. It's important to treat a family member like any other employee. Hiring your children can result in substantial savings for businesses. Make sure your child has real, age-appropriate work to do and a reasonable pay rate, comparable to other employees. Consult with a Block Advisors small business certified tax pro to ensure that you are complying with all requirements," advises Reed. "Block Advisors, a team within H&R Block, is dedicated to meeting the tax, bookkeeping and payroll needs of small business owners year-round. To start working with the tax experts at Block Advisors, visit blockadvisors.com."
In my opinion, you should not hire a family member solely because of the tax benefits. You should always hire based on whether that person is right for the job and keep in mind how this hire could materially impact your relationship with that person and others in your family. Finally, as I mentioned, make sure you have a tax professional on your team when making these determinations. As you can see, things can get a little tricky!
*All details were sourced from IRS.gov and blockadvisors.com