How much would it cost to buy all of the items in ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’?

If you’re looking to buy your lover all those turtle doves and gold rings, you better be ready to shell out $39k.


December 19, 2019

A partridge in a pear tree, turtle doves, gold rings — the narrator in the song “The 12 Days of Christmas” received quite the roster of gifts from his true love (and a hell of a lot of birds).

But have you ever wondered how much all this stuff would actually cost?

For 36 years running, PNC has published an annual (very tongue-in-cheek) Christmas Price Index, which tracks the going rate for all of the items in the song, from 3 French hens ($182) to 7 swans-a-swimming ($13,125).

The tally for 2019?

  • If you just count each line in the song once: ~$39k.
  • If you count cumulatively (adding up the total mentions of each item in all verses): A toasty $170k.

That’s 42x (and 185x) higher than the $920 experts project the average American will spend on gifts this holiday season.

In determining its price estimates, PNC consulted a national bird supplier, a waterfowl farm, multiple hatcheries, a tree nursery, and a national jewelry chain.

For the items involving people, the cost was calculated based on a service (e.g., hiring a dance troupe, or a group of musicians).

There’s also an inadvertent tale about income inequality buried in here: The cost of the 8 maids’ service is calculated based on one hour each at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Even collectively, with $58 in wages, they wouldn’t be able to afford a single gift on the list.

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