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Planning to re-create ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ for your true love? Brace yourself for higher costs

December 6, 2022, 4:58 PM UTC
A Christmas tree in a living room.
Re-creating the classic Christmas song could cost you.
Siri Stafford—Getty Images

The 12 Days of Christmas don’t officially start for a little under three weeks, so you’ve got plenty of time to buy your true love all of the items listed in the popular Christmas carol. Whether you’ve got the budget, though, is another matter entirely.

Just as inflation has bumped up the cost of food, toys and clothing, it’s having quite an impact on things like pear trees and pipers piping. PNC’s Christmas Price Index notes that the overall price for the 12 gifts in the song is up 10.5% this year—the third-highest increase in the 39-year history of the calculations.  

All totaled, you’ll spend $45,523.27 this year if you pick up each of the 12 items mentioned. If you’re a stickler for detail and buy everything in the song (saddling your poor paramour with 12 pear trees and more birds than many aviary sanctuaries), you’re looking at a bill of $197,071—and high odds that you’ll either be dumped by New Year’s Eve or viciously attacked by those 42 jerk geese you thought were a good gift idea.

It’s the five gold rings that saw the biggest increase this year. The price of those jumped more than 39% as commodity prices spiked. Turtle doves (more birds!) were close behind, with a 33.3% price increase over last year. Higher fertilizer costs mean you’ll pay an extra 25.8% for the partridge in a pear tree (that bird, actually, costs the same as last year—as do the swans-a-swimming).

There’s definitely a glass ceiling in this song, as the lords-a-leaping saw their value increase 24.2% (and they’re actually, by dollar value, the most expensive item on this year’s index, coming in at $13,980). Ladies dancing, though, saw just a 10% jump to $8,308.

And let’s not even talk about the injustices for maids-a-milking, who haven’t seen a pay raise since 2009. The line-item cost for those hard-working women? Just $58.

How much have things changed through the years? Shoppers who bought all 12 items back in 1984 would have paid less than half of today’s cost, shelling out just $20,069.58. And the index hit an all-time low in 1995, when it dropped to $17,915.25.

Still think inundating your love with fowl and servicepeople is the way to go? (Does your true love even HAVE a cow, much less eight that need to be milked??) Here’s how the gift prices break down:

Gift

2022 price

A partridge + a pear tree

$280.18 (+25.8)

2 turtle doves

$600 (+33.3%)

3 French hens

$318.75 (+25%)

4 calling birds

$599.96 (unchanged)

5 gold rings

$1,245 (+39.1%)

6 geese

$720 (+9.1%)

7 swans

$13,124.93 (unchanged)

8 maids-a-milking

$58 (unchanged)

9 ladies dancing

$8,308.12 (+10%)

10 lords-a-leaping

$13,980 (+24.2%)

11 pipers

$3,021.40 (+2.6%)

12 drummers

$3,266.93 (+2.6%)

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