Shopping for holiday gifts is a veritable roller coaster of emotions—each year it conjures feelings of love, nostalgia, cheer, and, naturally, crippling anxiety. While my heart bursts each time I brainstorm, find, and purchase the perfect present for a special person in my life, my bank account practically weeps. But what can I say? I have expensive taste (I’m a Taurus through and through). But with a new, more expensive apartment to pay for and an overloaded work schedule to tend to, I knew this year had to be different.
I needed a more efficient and cost-effective way to shop smarter during the holidays for everyone on my list (and yes, something for myself too).
Enter: Rakuten. If you haven’t heard of it, I’m about to make your week. Hell, you can call me Santa Claus because I’m about to make your entire holiday season. Rakuten is a free, member-based loyalty program that allows you to get cash back on every single one of your purchases (you can earn up to 40% cash back at over 3000 stores). Yes, really. All you have to do is sign up, then download the app, use the website or add the browser extension to activate the savings. It’s very literally free money in your pocket. Still not convinced? Below, I detail the retailers I used for each one of my loved ones this year and exactly how seamless the whole process was. Keep scrolling for all the evidence you’ll need.
Macy’s has really upped its game when it comes to the department store’s ever-expanding beauty department. While I’ve shopped fragrance there for years (I still have memories of choosing a scent at the store when I was in high school), they now carry just about every brand on your list. This time around, I used Rakuten’s browser extension to buy Tom Ford’s Santal Blush Eau de Parfum for myself—gift-giving doesn’t have to be entirely selfless—and Peter Thomas Roth’s Hydration Glow-Up Set for the man in my life.
He’s a skincare newbie and this three-piece set is perfect to set him up with a simple, foolproof routine he’ll actually stick to. Then, I sprung for NuFace’s Trinity Facial Trainer Kit because I love a deal, and have a friend who loves luxury to shop for. In all, I earned $43 in cash back on those three purchases, which is pretty amazing. New Macy’s deals are posted almost daily on their Rakuten retailer page, so hop to it.
Working out is not really my thing, but there are plenty of people on my list who love boutique fitness classes (the kind of humans who sign up for a 7 a.m. class and actually go—you know the ones). This time, I went directly to Rakuten’s website and picked up a few gifts from Nike, including the Classic Cortez Sneaker and Sherpa Fleece Crop Top. Both are worthy of the gym and will look cool post-class.
Sephora needs no introduction, and the brand’s namesake collection is just as popular as the store itself. Sephora Collection offers really great skincare, makeup, and tools for far less money than it’s prestige counterparts. For the holiday, I hit up Rakuten’s Sephora cash back page to purchase a bottle of its gummy collaboration with Olly Nutrition, Sephora Collection x OLLY Radient Sleep. I rave about these supplements all the time (I take them before bed for more restful sleep and better skin)—so much so, my friends are chomping at the bit to try them. I’m planning this gift for one pal in particular, as getting eight hours of sleep is her top priority.
Let me spell this out for you because I was just as shocked as you are—Walmart now sells pretty much every prestige product you could ever want. I’m talking La Mer’s The Moisturizing Cream (which I bought for my mom and promptly wrapped for holiday gifting) and T3’s Twirl Convertible Curling Iron (which is going straight to my friend who loves a “lived-in” wave). Both of which are products that have high price points, hence my affinity for Rakuten’s deals, and are easy to order straight through the brand’s marketplace.
Rakuten is a seamless, foolproof, way to earn back money for purchases you’d make anyway (up to 40% cash back at over 3000 stores, to be exact). So, take my advice and get into it this holiday season. You can go directly to Rakuten.com, download the app, or use the browser extension. I’ve done a mix of all three. Trust me, you’re going to love it.
This story was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated