12 days of christmas

This is how much it’d cost to buy everything in the 12 Days of Christmas song

Believe it or not, the 12 Days of Christmas can actually tell us something about the economy

You know the 12 days of Christmas song? “On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to meeee…” Ever wonder how much that poor ‘true love’ had to spend to buy all that stuff? Luckily, a bunch of bankers at PNC Financial Services have been adding up the costs of turtle doves and leaping lords each year since the 1980s.

Wait, what?

Surprisingly enough, adding up the cost of the 12 Day’s of Christmas can actually tell you some things about the economy. Watching the same prices, year after year, lets you see how prices change over time. And this can clue us into bigger developments in the economy.

For example, if you bought all the things on the internet (as opposed to in a shop), you would have to spend about $10,000 more. The internet makes it a lot easier to find gold rings and laying geese, but it costs a lot to get all that stuff to your doorstep.

Also, over the years, the prices of services like leaping lords or milking maids have increased much more steadily than the cost of the birds or gold. And this makes sense, there are all kinds of things that can affect the amount of birds that get hacked every year (like weather), but the number of dancers or drummers usually doesn’t change widely from year to year.

Finally, since they started tracking in 1984, the cost of the gifts have gone up by about 82%.

Graph showing increase in Christmas prices

This sounds like a lot, but the prices of just about everything else in the US have actually gone up even faster in the same period – by about 230% – because of . That means if you were to actually buy all this stuff for your true love it would actually be relatively cheaper now than it used to be. But it’s still pretty expensive:

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

A partridge in a pear tree

The perfect gift for a hopeless romantic, and a bargain too! Your average partridges are only $20, down from $25 last year due to lucky hatches in the US. Add the cost of a pear tree ($189.99) and it’s only $209.99 for this Christmas CLASSIC.

Two Turtle Doves

Turtle doves

Although we’re still talking about birds, unlike the partridge, the doves have gotten expensive! Since these lovebirds are a hard gift to find, only laying two to three clutches a year, with only two eggs per clutch, this year must have been a poor one for 'clutching'. Therefore, they’ve risen in price by a whole 29%! You better start saving because they’ll cost you $375.00 this time around.

Three French Hens and Four Calling Birds

French hens and calling birds

After tumultuous changes from the above, these feathered creatures have been having a quiet year so far. Hens and Calling Birds have not changed their prices since last year and will cost you respectively $181.50 and $599.96. In this case the massive difference in price between the two products is solely due to the fact that hens are much more common to find and much more easily marketed, whilst calling birds might be a rare catch for a pet (and a present)!

Five Golden Rings


Although gold has risen in price in the past year, the five gold rings stayed the same. This is probably due to the form of the ring itself. Since rings are less flexible than the raw gold sold on big international markets, their price doesn't move around as much. In fact, the five gold rings still cost $750. Having held steady for four consecutive years, and costing far less than the other listed entertaining services in the song.

Six Geese-a-Laying

Geese a Laying

They’ve literally been laying, since their prices haven’t changed at all, just like the Hens and the Calling Birds! $360.00 is all you’ve got to give!

Seven Swans-a-Swimming

Swans a swimming

Swans will be BY FAR your most expensive purchase this year, but nobody can put a price on such elegant creature after all! In fact, swans are usually the birds that change in price the most in this list, changing drastically from year to year. Although 2016 has not seen a change compared to 2015, these enchanted birds will still cost you a staggering $13,125.00.

Eight maids-a-milking

Maids a milking

The maids are left in the dust behind the swans, costing a measly $58.00. This is the same price as last year and is due to a very stagnant federal , which hasn't changed since 2009. This has a lot to do with the general situation of the economy and its confidence post the 2008 crisis.

Nine ladies dancing

Ladies dancing

This purchase will set you back a cool $7,552.84, as it would have last year. Despite a rising demand for entertainment with dancers, according to studies dance companies are waiting for a time of greater confidence in the economy before they afford raising wages and prices.

Ten lords-a-leaping

Lords a leaping

Salaries for Lords-a-Leaping rose in 2015, but not this year. This means for your true love, the price remains the same: $5,508.70. This may be due to the fact that the rise has been steady but slow during the years, and that high paying positions have not varied much in 2016 across the board.

Eleven Pipers Piping and Twelve Drummers

Pipers piping and drummers drumming

Pipers Piping and Drummer Drumming have both raised their wages therefore their costs of hire, so getting entertainment with them might be a bit more expensive!!! They now respectively cost $2,708.40 and $2,934.10.

The grand total?

If you only bought one of each thing in the song, it would cost $34,363. But what kind of true love buys just one! To actually by the correct number of each gift comes to a whopping $156,507. If this sounds a little steep, maybe you should check out Economy's Guide to Christmas Gift Giving for more 'economic' options.

Recent articles

Reader Comments