How much does it cost to buy everything in The Twelve Days of Christmas?

Twelve Days

How much does it cost to buy everything in The Twelve Days of Christmas? The answer…may surprise you.

It’s a holiday tradition–every year, economists, skeptics, and the genuinely curious tally up the real-life cost of all the goodies named in “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

In fact, there is a singular, bank-sponsored calculator–the PNC Christmas Price Index–dedicated to that and nothing more. Every year, it calculates the cost of all of the items in the song, balances the new cost against those of years past, and presents its findings to an eager public.



So, what’s the tally for 2014?

All told, the 78 items listed in the song will run you a grand total of $27,673.21. Which, at an average per-item cost of $354.78, is actually not bad–we’re talking about live animals, gold, and living human beings performing intricate and complicated services.

(It should be noted, though, that the PNC Index doesn’t state whether you’re paying an hourly rate for a fixed length of time for the drummers drumming, lords-a-leaping, maids-a-milking, and such, or whether you are hiring these people full-time and indefinitely. There’s never enough specificity with indices like these.)

The single most expensive day is number seven: those swans-a-swimming will cost you a fat grand each. Frankly, if a swan is going to cost a thousand dollars, it had better lay some golden eggs, Wonka goose-style.

The six geese-a-laying, by contrast, will cost you $360, all-in. That seems dirt cheap when compared to the swans, but it actually represents the highest price increase over last year. In 2013, those same geese ran you $210. Many observers are blaming the increase on the prevalence of geese unions.

The cheapest item on the list? Eight maids-a-milking, for $58. Again: no idea how the good people at PNC arrived at that cost. A little more than seven dollars for your own milkmaid? You can’t afford not to buy.

Oh: and if you’re one of those people who believes (rightly) that the speaker in the song gives the all the old items plus one new set of items every day–for a cumulative total of 364 gifts–then you will need $116,273.06 to cover the tab.


UPDATE–The 2015 list is here, and there’s been quite a bump: the items will run you a cool $155,407.18 this year.

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