Gifts in ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ Cost $107,000 This Year, Thanks to Rising Feed Prices

It's not the golden rings that are pricey: the care and feeding of all those birds in the classic holiday song is making this year's 364-gift extravaganza pretty pricey.

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Hussein Malla / AP

The Christmas tree in the lobby of the Emirates Palace hotel

Who gives turtle doves anymore? If the holiday classic “12 Days of Christmas” were updated to fit a modern gift-giving routine, we’d probably be singing about three Taylor Swift CDs, two Wii Us, and an iPad in a J.Crew case.

The gifts given in the “12 Days of Christmas” have long had an air of antiquity about them — the song itself dates back at least to the 18th century — but they’ve stood the test of time, becoming a classic expression of holiday extravagance and admiration. Ladies dancing, swans a-swimming and a fistful of golden rings are enough to throw quite a party. But all those gifts just for one person? That’ll require quite a budget – and the cost of the “12 Days of Christmas” continues to rise.

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Each year, PNC Wealth Management crunches the number on the total value of all the gifts given over the course of the song.  Last year the price of that package, called “The True Cost of Christmas,” jumped into six figures for the first time. And this year, the price has risen another 6.1 percent, ringing in at a total of $107,300.24.

To be sure, this isn’t a gift set that will fit under the Christmas tree – or even in an entire house. There are a total of 364 gifts given over the course of the song, includuing 12 partridges in pear trees and 40 golden rings. (Shoppers can also opt for a single set of just 78 items, though, totaling $25,431.18 — an increase of more than $1,000 over last year.)

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According to PNC, the past year’s underlying inflation of about two percent was only part of the price hike. The largest increase among the “12 Days” gifts was for the six geese a-laying, the price of which shot up 29.6% over the past year due to high feed costs prompted by this summer’s Midwest drought. The price of gold also rose, making those golden rings pricier; meanwhile the market for those seven swans a-swimming is considered by PNC to be “most volatile.”

The company has compiled the list every year since 1984, when the 78-piece set of gifts cost less than half of what it does now: $12,673.56. The financial firm totals the gifts based on real-world costs: PNC investment strategist Rebekah McCahan got help from the modern dance studio Phildanco to estimate the price of ladies dancing, while the National Aviary in Pittsburgh provided the costs of various fowl mentioned in the song.

And don’t think that Cyber Monday will help keep your costs down. PNC notes that the cost of shopping online actually boosts the cost of the whole set, mainly due to exorbitant prices for shipping live birds. Shoppers who prefer their items delivered will pay $15,000 more for the 78-piece set — a total of $40,439.53. That’s sure to leave room for little else under the Christmas tree.

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