I did my Christmas shopping at Guardian for less than S$100 & my friends still like me

Who says things can’t be good and cheap?

| Ilyda Chua | Sponsored | December 08, 2023, 10:51 AM

‘Tis the season to go broke.

I love Christmas. Family and friends, carols playing in the background, every available surface decked out in glitter and lights.

But also, gifts. Hence the festive poverty.

I’m not a fan of spending excessive money, nor do I enjoy spending hours brainstorming ~meaningful gifts~ that end up gathering dust on a shelf.

So, in the spirit of making my teammates feel appreciated while also fighting the urge to empty my wallet over useless trinkets, I decided to set some criteria for this year’s gift-list:

  1. I wouldn’t spend more than S$100 for the whole team (That’s five people, which averages out to S$20 per person)
  2. I would get something they would actually use

Where better, I decided, to find ruthlessly utilitarian yet affordable presents than Singapore’s favourite health and beauty retailer: Guardian?

The search

“Oh, but Ilyda,” you might say with derision, “that’s so unsentimental. What kind of gifts can you find at Guardian anyway? Tissue paper?”

Firstly, tissue paper would be a great gift, okay? There are few things more useful and versatile than a little pack of tissues.

Secondly, you’d be surprised. As I was, when I headed down to Takashimaya, the site of Guardian’s 6,000 sq ft flagship store.

(Did you know Guardian had a flagship store? Me neither.)

Photo by Ilyda Chua.

I’d expected to find mostly hygiene-related products — which, to be frank, is what I typically visit Guardian for.

But I found a wider selection than I’d expected, with things ranging from makeup and Japanese steam eye masks, to snacks and health food.

Photo by Ilyda Chua.

After some searching, I managed to find one item for each member of the team.

Each item was something I knew they’d appreciate and, more importantly, use.

The presentation

Finally the day came to present my colleagues with their presents.

To my colleague Julia, I gave her the Suncut Prodefense Whitening Essence (S$41.90).


As you can tell from this photo, she’s kind of a vampire.

Photo by Ilyda Chua.

I asked how she liked the gift, and she said: “Actually I already have this at home.”

What an ungrateful vampire.

Photo by Ilyda Chua.

I gave my colleague Alfie a Kundal Diffuser in the scent Black Cherry (S$12.90).

Not because she doesn’t already smell nice, but because I thought she could use a non-drinkable addition to her desk’s generous alcohol collection. (The diffuser is made from plant-based natural ethanol.)

It even fits in visually with the theme.

Photo by Ilyda Chua.

“I just need to make sure not to accidentally drink it,” she quipped. (Let’s hope she never gets that desperate.)

For my boss, Drew, I chose this Cetaphil Moisturising Lotion Face & Body Moisturiser (S$22.70).

Photo by Garey Gan.

You might wonder why, since he looks like such a tough guy.

The truth is that he always complains that his skin is dry.

He even keeps a supply of Nivea Body Milk on his desk, which he applies regularly.

Photo by Michelle Chew.

“Thanks, this will replace my body milk,” he said.

Lastly, I got my team lead, Nigel, a bottle of Illiyoon Ceramide Ato Concentrate Cream (S$27.50).

I’d initially hoped to get him an anti-ageing cream — he holds the distinction of being the oldest member of the team, at a positively ancient 31 — but was foiled by my own budget.

Instead, I opted for this cheaper alternative.

Photo by Ilyda Chua.

Not only is it hydrating (a key part of anti-ageing, if you didn’t know) and good for sensitive skin (it’s even usable in infants!), it’s also usable on both the face and body.

So versatile, and great for an individual as busy as him.

Photo by Ilyda Chua.

I also budgeted for a bonus gift for my account manager, Garey, who assigned me to write this article in the first place within a day of me coming back from a holiday.

Garey’s a really nice guy. It’s hard to say no when he comes to you, usually with a client brief and a massive smile.

So I gifted him with a tube of Darlie Double Action Fresh Protect (S$5.30).


Photo by Ilyda Chua.

Hopefully, he’ll direct that smile to someone else next time. And the brief.

Oh wait still got money

Remember I said I budgeted S$100 for this?

It turned out that Guardian was having a promotion. And because I got my gifts at Guardian instead of a fancy department store, I still had money left.

In the spirit of keeping to my budget as fastidiously as possibly, I decided to get a little something for myself.

To be precise, a Collagen Nude Gel Mask from Korean brand Mediheal (S$5.95).

Photo by Ilyda Chua.

This whole Christmas shopping thing is stressful, okay?

“Hold on now,” you may be saying. “I’ve done the math. All that stuff definitely does not add up to below S$100. Is this fake news?!?!?!”

After all:

S$41.90 + S$12.90 + S$22.70 + S$27.50 + S$5.30 + S$5.95 = S$116.25

You’d be right — if not for Guardian’s 3 for 2 Mix & Match promotion.

That means that for every three items you buy, the cheapest one is free. And it covers over 3,000 Guardian products across different categories.

Plenty of options, even for the pickiest of giftees.

So if you strategically split the six items into two transactions, that actually means:

Transaction 1: S$41.90 + S$27.50 = S$69.40 (S$22.70 item is FOC)

Transaction 2: S$12.90 + S$5.95 = S$18.85 (S$5.30 item is FOC)

Which leaves me with a total expenditure of S$88.25. Below budget, and with an extra bit of self-care thrown in.

Total amount saved: S$28.

How’s that for some girl math?

Affordable & useful gifts

You don’t have to be a Grinch to wince at the thought of participating in yet another thoroughly expensive holiday.

Nor is it a bad thing to want to avoid yet another gift-buying spree, which more likely than not will end in stress and waste (especially if you, like me, lack the magic ability to discern exactly what your receiver wants).

Flip the script by making this year’s gifts affordable and above all, useful.

Your friends and family will appreciate you for it.

And if they don’t, well. At least you didn’t go broke in the process.

(Bonus shopping hack: If you don’t have time to head down to the store, fret not — all items in this promo are available on the Guardian website. Delivery is free for orders over S$40.)

Writing this Guardian-sponsored article helped this writer feel festive without being broke. An accomplishment indeed.

Top image by Ilyda Chua