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 vs. $5). The cheapest option is a 40-pack of store-brand Member's Mark bottled water for just under $3.
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 currently on sale for $10. 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 upfront ($230) but comes to less than $10 per tin. The cookie tins also make good last-minute gifts for mail carriers, babysitters, hairdressers, teachers, and anyone else on the list for a small gift at the holidays.