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All Contents © 2020The Kiplinger Washington Editors
By Bob Niedt, Online Editor
| November 21, 2019
If you're feeling the holiday spirit and your Costco membership is up to speed, you'll find plenty of opportunities to score holiday goods, from gifts to house-party foods, at bargain rates at the warehouse club. In particular, several of Costco's Kirkland Signature store-branded products offer both quality and savings when it comes to holiday entertaining and gift giving.
Hey, we'll even throw Kirkland Signature batteries into the holiday mix. "If you're gifting electronics, it's really thoughtful to include the batteries needed with the gift itself," says Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews. "This means your recipient can jump right into playing with their new toy, rather than having to hunt down batteries themselves."
We’ve already sung the praises of the best Kirkland products to buy year-round, as well as some of the best Kirkland products for retirees. After talking to shopping experts and doing our own research, here are 17 great Kirkland Signature products to stock up on for the holidays.
Let Costco's in-store Kirkland Signature Bakery do the baking for you this holiday season. You'll save time, especially if you're not big on tooling away in the kitchen, and you'll save money, compared to baked goods you might buy at the supermarket.
If you’re having the family over for a holiday gathering, or you accidentally volunteered to bring something to the office party, check out the custom-made Kirkland Signature half sheet cakes at Costco. You can have one made for you for $18.99.
That’s a decent bargain compared to ordering a sheet cake from supermarket chain Wegmans, where a one-quarter sheet cake starts at $27.
There's no shortage of baked goods abundant wherever you go for the holidays, from office parties to gatherings with friends or family.
That's not to say everything is delicious or even economical -- unless you tap into some of what Costco has in its prepackaged baked goods, says True Trae shopping expert Trae Bodge.
Bodge is a fan of Costco's European cookies with Belgian chocolate, $14.39 for a 50-ounce tin.
"Did you forget to make dessert or did buying a host gift slip your mind?" says Bodge. "You’ll be happy to have this ready-to-go tin of festive cookies in your pantry."
And speaking of chocolate, Ramhold is showing some love for 4-count boxes of Kirkland Signature Luxury Belgian Chocolate. "These are gorgeous boxes that make excellent hostess gifts, so if you have a ton of holiday parties coming up, it's a great thing to pick up and have on hand," says Ramhold.
Ramhold also cites Kirkland Signature Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips as a sweet buy. "If you're planning any kind of baking this season, spring for the 4.5 pound bag of chocolate chips," says Ramhold. "I prefer Kirkland's brand to any others, including Toll House and even Ghirardelli. And a bag that big should get you through plenty of cookie baking sessions."
Coffee complements those two slices of sheet cake you’re having, along with those European cookie chasers. And if you know beans about coffee, you know Kirkland Signature’s line of coffees, from ground coffee to K-cups, has a legion of fans.
With Keurig K-Cup-modeled coffee pods all the rage now, you can bet grocery retailers are stamping their store brands on the trend. Kirkland Signature is no exception. We found a pack of 120 Kirkland Signature Pacific Bold organic dark roast coffee for $36.99, or about 31 cents for each pod. That's a bargain compared to name brands, such as, yes, Starbucks, on nearby shelves. The price also edged out Wegmans-brand coffee pods, which go for $3.99 per 12-pack in various (non-organic) flavors. That works out to about 33 cents per pod, two cents more than Costco pods. However, you can buy Wegmans pods in smaller quantities, a perk if you like to mix up your morning cup o' Joe.
Not a pod person or you make your own reusable pods? Costco's packaged coffee is a winner too, says Kelsey Sheehy, personal finance expert for money-saving website NerdWallet.
"A staple most mornings, but especially during the busy holiday season, we found Kirkland Signature House Blend whole bean coffee (2.5 pounds) for $11.99," says Sheehy. "You’d need to buy four bags of Target’s Archer Farm brand coffee (10 ounces) to get the same amount of beans. But at $5.99 per bag, the Archer’s Farm coffee would cost twice as much."
It's a holiday tradition: Hauling out the store-baked (you just warm it up), spiral-cut ham.
Some companies have done well just focusing on selling spiral hams (and sides), mostly around the holidays. We’re looking at you, Honey Baked Ham Co.
But Kirkland Signature has its own line of spiral-sliced cooked hams as an option for your holiday dining. They sell for $2.29 a pound, with a good-sized ham that could serve up to 16 people having you fork out around $25. Wegmans had spiral-sliced hams priced at $2.69 a pound, 40 cents more per pound than Costco.
On the Honey Baked Ham website, an 8-pound spiral ham (enough to feed up to 16 people) was priced at $79.95.
Those fluffy pancakes and hardy waffles on Christmas morning are nothing unless they’re floating in maple syrup. Think Costco Kirkland Signature organic maple syrup.
The consumer savings experts at NerdWallet have been sweet on Kirkland Signature's organic maple syrup in terms of quality and value.
A 34-ounce jug of Kirkland Signature organic maple syrup was selling for $12.59 . Wegmans was selling an 8-ounce jar of Butternut Farm of Vermont organic maple syrup for $5.95.
A holiday toast: Wine rating websites typically give Kirkland Signature wines high scores, in the mid-to-upper 80s out of 100. Not bad for wines that cost $7 or less.
An aside: Costco is the biggest seller of wine in the U.S., with annual wine sales of $1.8 billion. And its Kirkland Signature line has a loyal following. Annette Alvarez-Peters, who heads Costco’s wine-buying team, told Wine Spectator, "The Costco consumer is very loyal to the [Kirkland Signature] brand. They will always give the item a shot.”
Like white? Take your shot at a bottle of Kirkland Signature Pinot Grigio (from Italy) for $5.99. We also found a Kirkland Signature Sauvignon Blanc (from New Zealand) for $6.99 and a bottle of Kirkland Signature Chardonnay (from Sonoma, Calif.) for $11.89.
Looking for a drinky-poo to toast the holidays or for your morning mimosas? To Kirkland Signature!
"You don’t need a fancy bottle of bubbles for your Christmas morning mimosas," says NerdWallet's Sheehy. "Kirkland Signature Prosecco will get the job done just fine and it’s only $8.39. By comparison, a bottle of La Marca Prosecco is $14.89, also at Costco."
You’re that person: You love to give gifts, and include the mail carrier, the person who delivers your newspaper, teachers and others on your holiday list.
But that gets expensive and time-consuming, hunting down the small gifts for those who serve you. Turn to Kirkland Signature, though you’ll need to customize.
“Kirkland always has festive holiday sets, but they do tend to be too big for smaller gifting, like to teachers and your regular mail delivery person,” says Bodge. “You'll find that you can save money by buying a couple of these big gift sets and breaking them up into smaller gifts.”
The great-grandparents aren’t down with social media or sharing digital images on smartphones (heck, my parents are still carrying flip phones). They demand actual prints from the family gatherings at the holidays.
You can have Costco’s signature photo lab print up 50 holiday photo cards for $13.99. (CVS will charge you $1 per card for a personalized Hallmark photo card on Kodak stock.) Just looking for digital prints? Costco will print you up 4-by-10-inch photos for 19 cents each. The cost at CVS is 29 cents for 4-by-8 prints.
Holiday tradition demands we stock up on nuts, if only to give grandma’s nutcracker a once-a-year workout.
Kirkland Signature is nuts for nuts. A 40-ounce jar of Kirkland Signature Extra Fancy Cashews, for example, was going for $14.99. Wegmans was selling a smaller 34-ounce container of Wegmans-brand roasted whole cashews $15.49. Nut hoarders note: Nuts can be frozen.
Bodge likes Kirkland Signature's 2-pound bags of pecan halves for $13.99. "If you’re planning any baking or roasting with pecans, take advantage of this fantastic price. And if you don’t end up using them all in your cooking, they’re great for snacking," says Bodge.
For those batteries-not-included gifts, you’ll want to stock up on bunches of AA or AAA batteries for the holidays. Kirkland Signature will help you light it up at bargain prices. We’ve long advised shoppers to buy batteries in bulk at warehouse clubs to take advantage of bulk buying at deep discounts. Batteries are expensive, and batteries are in many electronics in our homes.
While the Kirkland Signature AA Alkaline batteries tested by Consumer Reports didn’t beat out Duracell or Rayovac on quality alone, Costco batteries did earn kudos for the combination of quality and value.
We found a 48-pack of Kirkland Signature AA Alkaline batteries selling for $16.99, or 33 cents per battery.
About that price: Near the Kirkland batteries, Costco was selling a 40-pack of Duracell AA batteries for $16.99, or 43 cents per battery. Both the Kirkland Signature and the Duracells were alkaline batteries.
By comparison, at a nearby Target, we spotted a 10-pack of Duracell AA batteries selling for $9.49, or about 95 cents per battery, more than double the price of the batteries for sale at Costco.
You step up your menu for the holidays. That includes main courses. Kirkland Signature will have your family calling you a top chef. Your wallet will be pleased, too.
Costco is one of the rare grocery retailers these days that has on-site butchers who cut and package meats in-store (you can see them through a window into their kitchen). In the beef cold case, we found packages of Kirkland Signature tenderloin filet mignon steaks selling for $16.99 a pound. Wegmans was selling its angus tenderloin steaks for $33 a pound.
For home chefs who do a lot of cooking, Kirkland Signature Organic Chicken Stock is a winner in taste and price. But be warned: You’re bulk-buying an entire case of chicken stock.
Still, it's a good investment. Stock has a long shelf life, and the six quart-size boxes of organic chicken stock you'll get at Costco cost just $10.79, or about $1.79 per quart. At Giant, a single quart-size box of Swanson organic chicken stock was selling for $3.99.
For the holidays, says Ramhold, Kirkland Signature Organic Chicken Stock "is a must for making homemade dressing and/or stuffing, as well as soups. It's good to keep on hand all year long, honestly."
Costco’s olive oil rises to the top, notes the University of California, Davis, which conducted a chemical and sensory study of olive oils. Kirkland Signature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil was one of only a few imported oils that met international and U.S. standards for extra virgin olive oil. The many brands that fell short in the testing were diluted with cheaper oils and exhibited problems with quality and flavor.
Kirkland's olive oil is a must for the holidays, says Bodge, especially the two-liter bottle. "I normally don’t advise buying EVOO in bulk because of its limited shelf life, but if you entertain around the holidays, it won’t go to waste. From dipping to cooking, this big bottle will come in handy. It’s such a great price!"
You never know when guests will drop in for the holidays, and what do you know? They've brought a bottle of wine. Be prepared to have some snacks, well, prepared. Pre-prepared, to be redundant, in this case, as in Kirkland Signature cheese flights.
Says Bodge, "These cheeses are shrink-wrapped, so they will keep for weeks. It’s worth snapping up one of these on your next Costco run to have on hand for any impromptu cocktail gatherings over the holidays."
From Thanksgiving through New Year's Day, traditionalists still say the bird's the word for holiday feasts. And it doesn't come any easier or tastier than a Kirkland Signature whole smoked turkey. The fully cooked turkeys were selling for $2.29 a pound, a steal considering all you need to do is heat and serve -- no thawing, no brining and no guessing when it's done. The smoked turkeys we saw in the Costco cooler case were averaging around $25 apiece, enough to feed a tableful of hungry relatives.
If you're looking for the absolute cheapest turkey, think frozen. Wegmans was selling frozen basted turkeys for just 37 cents per pound, and every supermarket will stock deeply discounted frozen Butterballs (and Butterball knockoffs) ahead of the holidays. But they won't be smoked and they won't be cooked. Factor in the value of the time and effort, especially if you're already a Costco member. Wegmans was also selling fresh young turkeys for $1.79 a pound, a step up from frozen but still unsmoked and uncooked.
When my wife finally weaned me off creamy (and delicious) Jif peanut butter and into the world of peanut butter made without sugar (just peanuts; maybe some salt), my snacking world changed.
Our go-to brand had been Nature’s Promise organic creamy peanut butter from Giant, but after diving into Kirkland Signature Organic Peanut Butter, that, too, has changed. It’s just as good as Nature’s Promise, maybe even better, and there’s no arguing with the price. You can get two 28-ounce jars of Kirkland peanut butter for around $11.49, while just one 16-ounce jar of Nature’s Promise can cost around $5.
Says Bodge, "This peanut butter is equally as good as the name brand. I like to have two jars on hand because there are always more kids around than usual during the holidays, and it’s great for baking and homemade granola."
There's no shortage of already packaged holiday snacks you can get from supermarkets and other food retailers, including Costco.
But why not dive deeper and pull some ingredients together for your own mix that will wow your guests.
Bodge goes for Costco's Kirkland Signature chocolate-covered almonds ($14.99 for a three-pound container) and Kirkland Signature raisins ($11.49 for a 3.4-pound container) and blends them. "They stay fresh for ages and they are perfect to your snack or dessert table, if you are entertaining. Mix with [Costco's] Nuts & Berries Mix [$9.99] to add color and to make the mix a little healthier," says Bodge. "You could even make little snack bags for guests as they prepare to head home."