Costco: not called "Big Box Store" for nothing!
Costco: not called "Big Box Store" for nothing! by Bennilover (CC BY-ND)

11 Ways to Stretch Your Holiday Budget at Costco, Sam's, and BJ's

View Slideshow
Costco: not called "Big Box Store" for nothing!
Costco: not called "Big Box Store" for nothing! by Bennilover (CC BY-ND)
Dinner
Tim Boyle / Staff / Getty Images News / Getty Images North America / Getty Images CC

Dinner

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 got its own Facebook page, and the company started its own chicken farm). 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 either a house full of family and friends — or a smaller group hunkered down for togetherness against winter weather and a pandemic lockdown.

Related: 23 Prepared Meals at Costco to Feed Your Family

Dessert
LauriPatterson/istockphoto
Buy Alcohol
Miguel M./Yelp

Alcohol

Sam's Club, Costco, and BJ's make it easy to stock up on wine, beer, and liquor for holiday gatherings. 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?

Related: 15 Best House Wines From Costco, Aldi, and Trader Joe's

Bottled Water
Kyryl Gorlov/istockphoto

Bottled Water

Every holiday celebration needs beverage options other than alcohol. The logic used to be that 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. This year it may just seem like a good idea to have water on hand just in case. 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 45-pack of store-brand Member's Mark bottled water for under $3.50.

Don't Buy: Gift Cards
Sorbis/shutterstock

Gift Cards

Warehouse clubs offer good deals on gift cards, which typically come in packs that can be divided among stockings. BJ's sells three $15 gift cards for Domino's for $36, or 20% off, and $50 Spa Week Spa and Wellness gift cards for $35, or 30% off, for example. Other cards are good for movies, steakhouse meals, and Disney purchases. 

Gaming Gifts
Costco

Gaming Gifts

Shop for the gamer in your life at warehouse clubs and you won't regret it. Costco offers a 24-month Xbox Live Gold Membership for $95 (less than $4 a month) – notable because it would typically cost $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.

Related: The Hottest Tech Gifts This Holiday Season

Stocking Stuffers
Costco

Stocking Stuffers

Splitting up bulk buys such as popcorn packs can be an economical way to fill stockings. Divvy up the four pack of Costco's Build A Bear gift cards valued at $25 each, but cost just $80 for the pack. Some small items are sold individually, including touchscreen compatible gloves that start at $15.

Party Gifts
Costco

Party Gifts

While most holiday parties will be put on hold this year, if you're still attending small gatherings with family, you're likely still planning to bring the host a gift and those can add up. A three-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.

Related: Special Gifts for Hosts and Hostesses That Will Get You Invited Back

Gift Baskets
dasytnik/shutterstock

Gift Baskets

The warehouse clubs sell pre-made gift baskets starting at about $25, 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.

Related: Subscription Box Gifts That Keep the Giving Going

6' Lamp Post with 120 LED Lights
Costco
Family Tree Christmas Card
Shutterfly