The £10 Challenge – How far can your tenner go at the Christmas Markets?

By Francine Ponticelli

As a person who seldom has a wad of cash to splash about, I deem myself the Queen of frugalness.

The minds of people without a vast amount of disposable income operate in the exact same way.

Usually we think about whether we can really afford that odd pint after work, or if it matters that much if we splurged on that £15 leopard-print hat/mittens combo (a true story).

But fear no more, as I have here a compilation of things you can get for free, if not mega cheap.

First of all, you must decide what type of weekend you are up for, whether you want to dedicate it to a marathon of movies, or you’d like a night out socialising with a bit of grub in the mix.

Well, what I’m about to suggest is no joke and it’s not for the faint hearted or the meek and mild; it is a dog-eat-dog world after all.

Firstly, for those who want to live it large on the weekend and just get crunked, there is the festive Manchester Christmas Market that is held on Albert Square.

Before you despair, do not worry as there are plenty of affordable items up for grabs around the many streets that hold the stalls.

King Street is known for its French workforce and it’s where you will find Bistro le Petit Paris, which sells mulled wine with added Cognac for only £4; just in case one form of alcohol is not enough in a drink.

Free samples of food are handed around the streets as you mull over the goods and, if you are feeling generous, perhaps you could even do a bit of Christmas shopping.

Contemporary wicker baskets are on sale for £20 by Just French, which would make an original gift for that special someone, so start clubbing your money together.

For exactly £10 the Dinky Art Bonsai stall, on Albert Square, is selling Bonsai tree seed growing kits, which I think would be quite cool to keep for yourself.

 But let’s forget about Christmas shopping for now and get back to our night out.

If you are going to start early, and I mean early, BHS on Market Street serve a full English breakfast for a shocking £1.99, but unfortunately this is does not last all day.

This is when you can head to the bottom of the street to the Manchester Steak and Sausage Company van, which offers a hot dog and a drink for, yet again, £1.99.

With very little already being spent there is plenty of scope to get on the drink.

Student nights do not usually apply to weekends, but HMV Ritz, on Whitworth Street, holds a Propaganda Indie night, where fast-track tickets cost £4.

After your hot dog and entrance fee into boogie heaven you should be left with a cracking £4.01.

You should find that vodka mixers and Sourz shots are £1.50 a pop, so why not try your hand at minesweeping a few drinks from some innocent, and rather drunk, individuals? (Only joking, of course!)

Secondly, for those wanting a quiet night in, get down to ‘That’s Entertainment’, on Market Street, where you can binge on bargain DVDs, CDs and games.

Host a night of entertainment where you can get the party started with Primal Scream’s album ‘Screamadelica’, swiftly on to Miley Cyrus and, eventually, creating a mellow vibe with Jeff Buckley’s ‘Grace’ (£2.99 each or three for £5).

Similarly enough, the X Men trilogy can be purchased for a mere £5 too and the rest of your dosh can be spent on appetisers and drinks for your guests.

So, there you have it, you can party on down at home, or in the City, comfortably on £10, or even less.

But to those heading out into Manchester, remember… be brave, hunt down the weak and guzzle as much booze as you can.

Finally, if you can do without socialising for one weekend, and you are in the giving mood, why not give your £10 to Children in Need, it is that time of year after all.


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