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 cheap and easy recipes good for serving a house full of family and friends.
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 (about $4 versus $5). The cheapest option is a 40-pack of store-brand Member's Mark bottled water for just under $3.
Warehouse clubs offer good deals on gift cards, which typically come in packs that can be divided among stockings. BJ's sells two $25 gift cards to Steak N' Shake for $40 (a $50 value), and three $10 Starbucks gift cards for $27 (a $30 value), for example. Other cards are good for movies, steakhouse meals, and iTunes purchases. Costco currently has a notable deal of four gift cards for $15 each to Krispy Kreme for $45 (a $60 value).
Shop for the gamer in you life at warehouse clubs and you won't regret it. Costco offers a 24-month Xbox Live Gold Membership for $80 (roughly $3 a month) – notable because it would typically cost $10 per month or $60 per year. Sam's Club has a similar deal, while you can also buy whole gaming systems, games, and accessories from both warehouse stores.
With so many holiday parties to attend, it can get expensive to bring a host gift to each one. A four-tier pack of sweet treats goes for $25 at BJ's, but split it comes to about $6 per box of candy and makes a thoughtful hostess gift, or good last-minute gifts for mail carriers, babysitters, hairdressers, teachers, and anyone else on the list for a small gift at the holidays.
The warehouse clubs sell pre-made gift baskets starting at about $20, with themes ranging from Coca-Cola to "Star Wars," to popcorn and wine, to a movie night in gift basket, but consumers may be able to save even more by divvying up bulk purchases to create homemade gift baskets.
Don't forget outdoor decorations — the neighbors won't. For a sense of the warehouse club savings available on holiday lights, consider that a two-pack of outdoor red and green laser lights can be found for $40 at Costco compared with a single-pack of a similar outdoor display that goes for $38 on Amazon.
PHOTO GREETING CARDS
Send holiday cheer through warehouse clubs on the cheap. Costco for example allows you to make personalized photo cards and purchase them in sets of 50 for $14 or roughly 27 cents per photo. For the same type of holiday greeting card Shutterfly charges 86 cents per card for the same quantity.