🔒Bulk-buying over the holidays: Insiders, these are the best ways to save this season

A graphic showing Costco and Sam's Club logos with Christmas and Thanksgiving images. (Canva, Canva)

HOUSTON – Since our bulk buying series this summer, we’ve kept an eye on Sam’s Club and Costco and the ways to save through the seasons.

As the holidays approach, we’re thinking about entertaining, gift-giving and, of course, ways to hack the holidays to give our best, but also save money where we can.

Here are some of our time-tested ways to save through bulk buying as you prepare for the holidays with your family.


A great way to save on candy is to create goody bags across the holiday seasons. From Halloween to Christmas, buy candy in bulk and decorate goody bags according to the season. You don’t have to have holiday-specific candy. Who really cares if your M&Ms are red and green? Who really cares if they have a holly leaf on the packaging? Not your real friends. In fact, even those Judgy Judys out there in the world probably won’t be able to tell when you bought those candies if you avoid season-specific packaging. Candy is sweet no matter the season. And chocolate keeps for a REALLY LONG TIME.

Here’s what we propose: Buy some cellophane bags and pack those puppies full of clearance Halloween candy and tie them off with a holiday-specific ribbon. They’re great for kids goodie bags at school, favors for your dinner guests and little somethings to leave for your stayover guests in their rooms. No one is going to judge you. Especially not me. Also, remember our secret codes and pricing strategies? This can come in super handy when you’re looking for those sweetest of sweets: sale candy.

Party supplies

We’re big fans of using the good china and glasses and silverware, but if you’re parties are big and loud and messy (like ours are), disposable options are often the better choice. Paper plates, plastic silverware and paper napkins are a great buy when purchasing in bulk. Buy the big container and then use them over several holidays. It’s also a good idea to consider whether you have the space to store them away in a clean location. Pantry is best so you don’t forget they’re there.

A good way to customize for each holiday to keep things festive and personalized is through holiday-specific napkins. You can pay a premium for really cute ones if you want or put your budget toward fun table decorations you can use year after year or, even better, purchase a fresh-flower centerpiece (that you can get at Sam’s Club or Costco on the cheap).

Your holiday meals

We’re a big fan of buying big and then freezing. If you purchase the big turkey or the big ham or the large pack of vegetables, use what you need during the holidays and freeze the finished dishes for about a month after the holidays when you could really use a break from your New Year’s resolutions. Mmmmm. Delicious buttery mashed potatoes after a month of Atkins… Again, we’re not Judgy Judys. We’re Realistic Ritas ‘round here.

It’s a good idea to freeze whatever you’re buying in the easiest format for use. Do you like to whip up variations on a plain meat dish or do you just like it the way you made it for the holidays? Freeze it the way you like to eat it and you’ve got ready-made meals without a premium price. Your CrockPot or air fryer will be your friend in January or February when you really don’t want to cook after hitting the gym.

The same goes for those Sam’s Club and Costco breads, desserts and pastries. Use what you need over the holidays and freeze the heck out of them. They’ll keep and you’ll look like a genius in 2023.

But back to now.

Gifts for educators

We’re big fans of recognizing the teachers and administrators who do so much to help us and our kids live their best selves. Sam’s Club and Costco have amazing options for giving gifts for educators. Remember those deals on gift cards we told you about? They often cost less at Sam’s Club and Costco than the total value on the cards. Teachers prefer gift cards, so you may have a one-stop shop at the gift card kiosk on your hands here…

Add a handwritten note on some pretty stationery or a holiday card (there are great deals on fancy-schmancy cards at Costco – we’re lookin’ at you Papyrus deals) and you’ve got a winner of a gift. Teachers have said they go back and read these notes when they’ve had rough days, so skip the mug, y’all, and write something and give something that will really matter to the person who has given so much to you or your kiddos.

Gifts for secret Santa

We love deals on high-end stuff. Do you know that Costco and Sam’s Club have terrific deals on really high-end makeup, fragrances, clothing and skincare? The sometimes seemingly out-of-reach brands are surprisingly represented at these bulk stores. Especially online. We’re talking La Mer, Charlotte Tilbury, La Prairie and Giorgio Armani. The sales extend to smaller sizes in multiples that you could give to coworkers and friends. Think lotions, lip balms, eye shadows and nail polish.

If the ticket still seems too high, as we recommended earlier this year, team up with a family member or friend and split the cost and the products. Your secret Santa person will likely be VERY surprised by the high-end gift they received. You’ll smile at the savings.

Outfitting your house for guests on a budget

If you’re expecting guests, you can grab little niceties for their use in your home at Sam’s Club and Costco for less. Think shampoo and conditioner, toothpaste, extra toothbrushes, bottled water, snacks, an extra USB charger or two or power strip. Some pretty fresh flowers might also be a nice welcome into your space. These make guests feel a little more at home and comfortable. Like your home is a luxe destination. While this time of year might not be the best time to purchase sheets, robes, towels and the like, costs will likely be lower at Sam’s Club and Costco than at other stores at this time of year.

Cut costs further

If you use your store-specific credit cards at these stores, you’ll get cash back on your purchases. Be sure to make sure you’re eligible and elevate your membership if you’re banking on this option.

Also, at Sam’s Club you can turn in your Sam’s Cash for holiday purchases to bring the price down even lower.

What do you save on around the holidays at bulk buying stores? Let us know in the comments. We could include your guidance in an update on this article.

See our full bulk buying series:

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About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.