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All Contents © 2018The Kiplinger Washington Editors
By Bob Niedt, Online Editor
| November 19, 2018
Your holiday budget could always use a little stretching. And if you've already paid up your Costco membership -- $60 to $120 a year -- and are planning a trip to the warehouse club, you'll find plenty of opportunities to score holiday goods at bargain rates. 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.
“The Kirkland Signature brand is a bargain at Costco, especially for large families or those who enjoy entertaining,” says Courtney Jespersen, a consumer savings expert at NerdWallet. “The brand’s products usually come in large quantities, which provides big value for your buck.”
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 14 great Kirkland Signature products to stock up on for the holidays.
If you’re not wild about doing a lot of baking for the holidays, reach out to the in-store Kirkland Signature Bakery for some sweet assistance.
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 half sheet cake from supermarket chain Wegmans. Their half sheet cakes run $34 if you buy one straight from the bakery cold case. Or you can order a custom-made cake online for $39.
Coffee complements those two slices of sheet cake you’re having. 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.
You can pick up a two-pack of three-pound bags of Kirkland Signature Costa Rica Whole Bean Coffee for $37.99, says Jeanette Pavini, savings expert at Coupons.com. “At this price it averages out to about 15 cents a cup,” she says. Take that, Starbucks.
We found a pack of 120 Kirkland Signature K-cup pods for $36.99, or about 31 cents for each pod. Compare that to a 100-pod pack of Keurig Original Donut Shop Coffee, which was selling at Costco for $42.99, or about 43 cents per pod.
It's a holiday tradition: Hauling out the store-baked, 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 $1.99 a pound, with a good-sized ham that could serve up to 16 people having you fork out around $20. My local Honey Baked Ham store in Northern Virginia is seeking $7.89 a pound for that company’s signature spiral-sliced ham, with an 8-pound ham costing $63.
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.
“Not only do Kirkland Signature products often offer lower prices than competitor brands for identical quantities, they often provide larger quantities for lower prices,” says Jespersen. “For example, we spotted a 33.8-ounce bottle of Kirkland Signature organic maple syrup for $13.29 at Costco. Over at Target, a 32-ounce bottle of Archer Farms [a Target store brand] maple syrup costs $15.19. Costco’s version offers more product for less money.”
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 $6.99.
Your sister-in-law is a beer expert, so she keeps telling you. And since you’re hosting the holiday mash-up of family and friends, you want quality, albeit affordable quality, in that fridge.
If you shop at Costco, Kirkland Signature beer is a good go-to. Costco’s Kirkland Signature line of brews hail from renowned small breweries across the country, and Costco sources it like a boss: Excellent quality, bargain prices.
We found a variety pack case (24 bottles) of Kirkland Signature craft ales and lagers selling for $19.99. It included India Pale Ales, Session IPAs and a Czech-style Pilsner lager.
Nearby, a variety case of Devil’s Backbone beers was selling for $29.99.
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 True Trae shopping expert Trae 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 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 party.
You can have Costco’s signature photo lab print up 50 holiday photo cards for $13.99 (CVS will charge you $24).
Just looking for digital prints? Costco will print you up 4-by-10-inch photos for 19 cents each. The cost at CVS is 35 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 2.5-pound jar of Kirkland Signature Extra Fancy Cashews, for example, was going for $22.99. “If you are nuts for cashews, this is your deal,” says Pavini of Coupons.com. “And since cashews are one of the most expensive nuts on the market, you may want to stock up here.” Nut hoarders note: Nuts can be frozen.
We also spotted a 3-pound container of Kirkland Signature milk-chocolate-covered almonds for $12.79, or $4.26 per pound.
At Wegmans, you’re paying $7.65 a pound for dark-chocolate-covered almonds.
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 72-pack of Kirkland Signature AA Alkaline batteries selling for $19.99, or 28 cents per battery.
“Fantastic price for this amount of batteries,” says Pavini. “And since these batteries offer a 10-year shelf live, you don’t have to worry about using them all up before they expire.”
About that price: Near the Kirkland batteries, Costco was selling a 40-pack of Duracell AA batteries for $15.99, or 40 cents per battery.
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 $12.99 a pound. Wegmans was selling its prepackaged filet mignons for $23.49 a pound. Costco also sells its Kirkland Signature beef tenderloins whole if you prefer to portion out the steaks yourself.
Holiday gift giving and partying means there’s lots to clean up around the ranch.
Pavini found 33-gallon Kirkland Signature trash bags selling for $19.99 for 90. “These trash bags are strong, and for 90 bags this is a very good deal,” she says. That’s about 22 cents per bag.
We spotted a box of 33-gallon Hefty trash bags selling for $7.69 for 20 bags at a Giant supermarket in Northern Virginia. That’s about 38 cents per bag.
Of course Kirkland Signature has its own line of clothing. And two of our deals experts rave, via their spouses, about the lineup, which could be excellent bargain gifts for some of your own family members.
“My husband loves their collared shirts for work,” says money-saving expert Andrea Woroch. “They are priced well and made of high quality, so they last.” Several styles of Kirkland Signature dress shirts are listed on Costco.com for up to $17.99 apiece.
Bodge, of True Trae, offers similar praise.
“My husband loves a Carhartt- or Dickie-style work pant, but prefers the pricing at Costco,” says Bodge. “He finds the quality to be comparable, so he has become a committed consumer.” Kirkland Signature pants start at $12.99 on Costco.com.
Wine snobs are already familiar with Kirkland Signature wines, but spirits snobs might still be in the dark about Costco’s store-brand booze. Costco isn’t allowed to sell liquor in all its stores; many states limit the warehouse club to beer and wine. But in states that do give the green light to Costco selling liquor, its Kirkland Signature vodka is a hands-down winner, rave spirits experts including Bon Appetit.
Woroch is a fan, too.
”It’s high quality for less,” says Woroch. “Sources say it’s made with the same water source as the premium Grey Goose but costs much less. Bonus: You may not have to be a member to get this deal. In some states it's illegal to require a membership for alcohol purchases.”
In Florida, at least, the Costco liquor stores aren’t deep in the warehouse, as with beer and wine. They’re in a separate, attached building with its own entrance and cash register.
Stop complaining “it’s only the two of us” and “we don’t need those big packages” from Costco. Instead, get in the holiday spirit and start sharing.
”Sometimes you don’t need a huge carton or bulk package of one of these Kirkland items but you can split the purchase with a family member or friend to get a better deal and quality item for less,” says Woroch. “Plus, you can quickly settle up by using a payment app like Zelle that lets you send money directly from your bank account to another typically within minutes as long as both people are enrolled.”
That makes it super easy to split any warehouse deals you come across this holiday season, says Woroch.
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