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Flee or Frolic in the Snow
Keeping Your Resolution
For the Love of Your Life
Fun with the Whole Family

Welcome to Rakuten' Essential Winter Guide

Brrr, it's cold outside. Thankfully, all these deals are hot enough to warm your wallet and soul, and have you making snow angels.

This winter, don't hold back on your spending. With Cash Back at over 750 stores here at Rakuten.ca, there are endless ways to save. From coupons and promo codes to limited-time discounts and bonuses, make yourself and your wallet happy and shop away. And don’t forget, there’s In-Store Cash Back too!

Whether it's family time you're after, or maybe a vacation to get away from all the chaos and bad weather, we are here to help you get through the winter, one purchase at a time. We’ve put together some great ideas to chip away at the seasonal blahs, and help you make the most of the Canadian winter.

Places to Go in the Sun

Like most Canadians, the goal during the winter is to escape to sun destinations during some of the hardest months of the year. Southern Florida like Disney World in Orlando, Puerto Vallarta in the Dominican Republic, Cozumel in Mexico, the Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, and any island in Hawaii promises to be a great time. These are some of our favourite sunny spots in North America, perfect for making the most of this time of year.

And the best ways to get there on a budget is of course to use Rakuten.ca and get Cash Back with your online bookings. Book with Air Canada Vacation, Travelocity, and even Groupon Getaways to score some of the best deals for your time in the sun. There are always amazing travel deals this time of year for Canadian snowbirds, so be sure to plan the one that’s best for your family.

Be sure to pack all the essentials. Bathing suits from Bikini Village, sandals from the Shoe Warehouse, and of course the perfect beach-to-party outfit can be found at Hudson's Bay year-round. Hats in all shapes and sizes and for all teams from Lids.

Don’t forget sunscreen, travel-size toiletries, magazines and snacks for the plane ride, and more. You can stock up on everything you need at Shoppers Drugmart. And no vacation would be complete without photographic memories. Sure you can use your smartphone, but you can also get amazing cameras from Canon and Henry's. After all, no one will believe you swam with sharks or manatees or dolphins if you don’t have pictures to prove it.

Places to Go Skiing and Snowboarding

As hard as it is to believe, some of us Canadians love spending time in the snow. And thankfully, there are so many amazing places to enjoy snow in our own backyard.

Banff in Alberta and Whistler in BC have world-renowned skiing, not to mention après-ski. Enjoy a Québec winter tradition with a tour of a cabane à sucre or a visit to Carnaval de Québec in early February (and say hi to Bonhomme Carnaval of course).

Over at our Gift Card Shop, you can find Cash Back offers for airlines, hotels, and even Uber. Book vacation packages with Expedia, or make your own arrangements with FlightHub for flights, VRBO for vacation rentals, Dollar Rent-A-Car (just don’t forget the winter tires).

Get decked out in clothing to keep you warm and comfy from Columbia and Patagonia, and get your gear from Skis.com and Snowboards.com.

Getting Fit

With a new year, comes new resolutions. And fitness is always at the top of the list. This year, set your sights on keeping your resolution.

Start with workout programs for beginners so you don’t lose interest or give up because it’s too hard. Small wins ensures your motivation stays in tact. Resistance bands are huge in the workout world and they’re especially good to keep at home for when you need a little workout while watching TV and take up hardly any space in your luggage!

Regardless of where or how you decide to stay fit, remember to have fun and dress for the part. Everyone’s favourite Canadian athleisure company, Lululemon, offers Cash Back. You can also get into the yoga spirit with Lolë. Getting the right footwear is imperative to make sure you don’t get hurt from Adidas or Foot Locker. Fitbits are huge in the fitness world, they help keep you on track and accountable and they look pretty snazzy to book. And of course, don’t forget to stay hydrated during your workouts with S'Well.

Getting Good Grades

When January rolls around, students have one thing on their minds: the countdown to the end of the school year. There are so many things to look forward to after school’s out, like summer jobs, volunteering, internships, avoiding summer school, having fun with friends, and more. For post-secondary students, scholarships and student services might rank top for them, along with backpacking through Europe or Asia, applying to postgraduate programs, or jobs! So now’s the time to buckle down and get those good grades and prepare for what’s to come.

If studying is a top priority (which it always should be), read up from Chapters-Indigo and Kobo Canada. Kaplan Test Prep can help with all those standardized tests and get you in tip-top shape for them.

If you’re planning on looking for work or even an internship, you’ll need proper interview clothes. Some of the ones we love include H&M, Dynamite and Banana Republic, and don’t forget awesome shoes that scream “I’m a professional!” Get those from Aldo or DSW. Don’t forget grooming, men and women can get a variety of skincare and makeup products from Sephora so they look the part.

If travelling is on your mind and in your plans, consider Home Away, Booking.com, G Adventures, and don’t forget to visit our Travels and Vacations section with all the best partner deals we have to offer.

Stuff That's Free

We’re shop-a-holics, so of course we love shopping online. But not all gifts need to cost money. There is something to be said about giving a gift from the heart. Those often go a lot further with the recipient because they mean a lot more and were made by you.

Tell that special someone you love them with the perfect personalized present. Create a photo collage of your relationship’s best moments. And if you’re good with words, why not write a poem from the heart, or a fictional story that recounts the story of how you first met? Or how about a Netflix-and-Chill date where they get to pick all the shows (and you watch them without complaining).

Whatever you choose, it’ll certainly be special.

Stuff to Buy

Depending on what your special someone is into, there are so many different things you can offer to show your love and appreciation. And if you’re not in a relationship, maybe some of these ideas will help point Cupid’s arrow in the right direction for you.

A gorgeous bouquet from 1800FLOWERS is a great place to start. Who doesn’t love flowers? If he or she has a favourite flower, make those the centrepiece of the arrangement to show you know them. A box of chocolates almost as delicious as they are from Purdy's will definitely help sweeten the deal for them. White, milk, or dark chocolate -- it doesn’t matter because nothing is as sweet as they are.

Electronics for the gadget junky from Best Buy are equally romantic, especially if it’s something they’ve been wanting for a while. Surprise them. How about a gift from Groupon? This can be a restaurant you’ve been meaning to try, a foot massage from a skilled reflexologist, or a fun activity like an escape room or go cart session.

Some lingerie for her from La Senza will certainly help spice things up for your relationship. Get that diamond or sapphire she’s always wanted from Peoples Jewellers.

Or get them a special handmade or vintage something from an Etsy maker that is custom made or one-of-a-kind just like they are. You can even just treat yourselves to a nice dinner at Auberge du Pommier or The Keg Steakhouse.

Awards, Sports, and Games

In January and early February, we start with the Golden Globe Awards and the Oscars. Get your Hollywood fix with all the live red carpet events as well as the best-and-worst dressed lists. If music is more your speed, the Grammy Awards are also held at the start of February. With all the best musicians, this party is a blast.

Host your own awards parties and have your guests share their predictions for winners and theme your party for the most popular TV shows or movies from the past year. Buy DVDs of the best movie nominees (from Amazon.ca) and share them amongst your friends leading up to the awards. Get your party snacks from Loblaws or McDonald's!

Into sports? The Super Bowl is when even non-sports-fans take part in tailgating, Super Bowl parties, and picking teams. Get your team jersey (or hat or scarf) early from the NFL Shop while scoring Cash Back. The NHL and the NBA also have their All-Star Games. It’s a competition between the best players in the league and it’s a lead-in to the playoffs. You know what that means? Shop the NHL Store and NBA Store Stores so you can sport your team pride!

Not into TV? Have fun with board games, get your video game on with Xbox, Nintendo, and PS4 from Best Buy, make your LEGO dreams come true, and with FAO Schwarz now at Hudson's Bay, you can get all the best games for the entire family.

Winter Fun and Food

One of the best things to do during the winter, is to enjoy the season with those you love. There are so many activities the whole family can enjoy, the list is endless, really. The Rideau Canal in Ottawa is one of the best and biggest place in the country to skate. If there’s enough snow, make a snow-person (and snow-pets).

There are also lots of winter festivals from coast to coast. FROSTival in Fredericton, Festival du Voyageur in Winnipeg, Ice on Whyte in Edmonton, and the Rossland Winter Carnival are just some of the ones we recommend. If you’re in Northern Canada, the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous is held in Whitehorse and Toonik Tyme is in Iqaluit.

Hundreds of Toronto restaurants participate in Winterlicious where you can sample amazing menus for lunch and dinner. Check out the restaurants in the Gift Card Shop to order gift cards to pay for your Winterlicious meals. Meanwhile across the country, Dine Out Vancouver Festival is also host to hundreds of restaurants across the Lower Mainland where you can enjoy fixed-price menus for almost three weeks.

Load up on grocery gift cards and enjoy home cooking comfort foods. Soups and stews are perfect for this time of year, and warm homemade bread is even better. Bed Bath & Beyond, JYSK, Rona, and Well.ca offer up a great selection for small appliances so you can create an entire feast right in your kitchen without ever having to brave the elements.