11 Ways to Stretch Your Holiday Budget at Costco, Sam's, and BJ's
The holiday season can do a number on credit card bills and bank account balances. But members of Costco, Sam's Club, and BJ's Wholesale Club can find savings at the warehouse stores on seasonal décor, food, and gifts for all, among other holiday necessities.
Related: 16 Ways to Make Holiday Shopping More Affordable -- Starting Now
Costco, Sam's Club, and BJ's sell ready-made rotisserie chickens, about 3 pounds each, for just $5 (Costco's is so beloved it has its own Facebook page). At that price, shoppers picking one up for a holiday meal may want to buy another to use later in chicken salad and other recipes good for serving a house full of family and friends.
No holiday meal is complete without an array of dessert options. Pies, cakes, and the like are all available from warehouse clubs in large sizes perfect for parties. Sheet cakes at Sam's Club cost $40 and feed up to 70 people, while a variety of 4-pound seasonal pies start at $8 (for pumpkin).
Sam's Club, Costco, and BJ's make it easy to stock up on wine, beer, and liquor for holiday gatherings on the cheap. A little-known Costco secret: Some $12 to $16 bottles of wine are actually $50 bottles that have been rebranded, and Costco's beer selection holds similar gems. How else would the makers get rid of extra stock?
Every holiday celebration needs beverage options other than alcohol. While buying bottled water seems like a waste (hello, tap water), it cuts down on dishes after a party, and guests can grab one for the road. At Sam's Club, a 32-count package of Aquafina half-liter bottles costs less than a smaller 24-pack of the same bottled water at Kmart and several regional grocery stores ($4.88 vs. $5). The cheapest option is a 40-pack of store-brand Member's Mark bottled water for less than $4.
Splitting up bulk buys such as packs of socks can be an economical way to fill stockings. Some small items are sold individually, including gloves from Costco that work with touchscreen devices (on sale for $10 through Oct. 23). Variety packs of wristbands for the iFit Vue (less than $19 at Sam's Club) could be parceled out to family or friends who have the activity tracker (or will be getting one for Christmas).
With so many holiday parties to attend, it can get expensive to bring a host gift to each one, but no one wants to show up empty-handed. A case of fresh-baked David's holiday cookies from Costco costs a lot up front ($100 through Oct. 23; regularly $120) but comes to $10 or less per tin. The cookie tins also make good gifts for mail carriers, babysitters, hairdressers, teachers, and anyone else on the list for a small gift at the holidays.
For several years now, Costco has sold art jars starting at $16, complete with books on how to create various masterpieces. They're handy for keeping kids happy and calm at holiday gatherings, or as presents for children with a creative side or teachers always in need of art supplies for the classroom. It may even be worth grabbing an extra for the gift closet.
Related: 24 Last-Minute Gifts to Keep on Hand All Year Long