The True Cost of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”

XRF 12days 150x150 The True Cost of The Twelve Days of ChristmasThe classic Christmas carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” seems like just another silly holiday song. However, since 1984 PNC Wealth Management has been updating its “Christmas Price Index” annually and reporting it to consumers. This list estimates the total cost of buying the gifts mentioned in this class holiday tune. It may seem completely ridiculous, especially when considering the price of such items as “ten lords-a-leaping” or “eight maids-a-milking.” While it would be very unrealistic and irrational to buy all of these random gifts for your “true love”, the list can serve as an unusual and creative method of interpreting inflation over the years.

Here are a few stats from this year’s Christmas Price Index:

-Buying one set of the gifts mentioned in the song will cost you an estimated $27,393 this year. If you buy all 364 items repeated throughout the carol, you’ll pay a staggering $114,651. That’s one generous “true love.”

-While the Consumer Price Index rose only 1.7 percent this year, the cost of buying one set of each gift mentioned in the song is up 7.7 percent from last year. The difference is due to some of the items’ prices soaring, while others remain relatively unchanged over the last three decades.

-Two good examples of the above point: Thirty years ago a pear tree cost $19.95, while today it would cost about $184. Seven swans cost $7,000 this year, the same price as in 1984. The swans are actually the most expensive item on the list.

-The cheapest “item” on the list, at $7.25 each, are the eight maids-a-milking, totaling up at only $58.

-The two biggest price changes from last year were the nine ladies dancing (which cost $7,553, 20% higher than last year) and the ten lords-a-leaping (up 10% to $5,243).

You may be questioning where these prices come from or maybe if a leaping lord even exists. In order to compile the list, PNC Financial Services checks many different sources, such as jewelry stores, pet stores and dance companies.

For more information, check out NPR’s article at http://www.npr.org/2013/12/02/248134167/cost-of-items-in-12-days-of-christmas-tops-114-000

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About Hannah Sassi

Hi, my name is Hannah Sassi and I am the Communications Intern for the Council of Better Business Bureaus in Arlington, VA. My hometown is Hatfield, Massachusetts and I am currently a freshman at The George Washington University majoring in Business with a specialization in Economics and Public Policy.