What Would it Cost to Give the Gifts in The 12 Days of Christmas?

There is no such thing as a “one size fits all” when it comes to selecting gifts for those on your Christmas list. Some of your acquaintances may warrant nothing more than a tin of cookies or a copy of that timeless Christmas tale, Taylor the Tooting Turkey. Others require special consideration. Of course, at the top of that list is your one true love. Nothing but the best will do for whomever holds that place in your heart.

If you are still trying to figure out what to get your true love, the good news is that there is a tried-and-true list of gifts proven to be appropriate for your sweetheart. The bad news is that the prices are skyrocketing faster than Santa’s sleigh.

The popular Christmas song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” identifies 12 gifts for your true love. If you want to live up to the standard established by that holiday gift giver, you should have started doing this 11 days ago, but it’s the thought that counts. Theoretically, you could wrap all 12 days’ worth of gifts and stick them under the tree tomorrow morning. It will take a lot of wrapping paper.

Taking all 12 days into account, we’re talking about 12 partridges in pear trees, 22 turtle doves, 30 French hens, 36 calling birds, 40 gold rings, 42 geese laying eggs, 42 swans, 40 milking maids, 36 dancing ladies, 30 leaping lords, 22 piping pipers and 12 drumming drummers. All told, there are 364 gifts to wrap.

How much will all this holiday giving impact your checking account? When we first looked at this question back in 2015, the answer was $155,407.18. Sadly, inflation has taken its toll, so it will cost you a bit more this year. According to The PNC Christmas Price Index, this is what this holiday tradition will cost for 2021.

Partridge In a Pear Tree

Although the cost of partridges has remained relatively stable, the cost of pear trees is growing faster than the trees. One set of the bird and tree is $222.68, up 6% from last year. You will need to buy 12 of these, of course, for $2,672.16.

Turtle Doves

Although partridge prices have held steady, the same cannot be said for their cousins, the turtle doves. The price for a pair rose 50% to $450. Eleven pairs — 22 birds — will cost you $4,950.

French Hens

Joining the turtle doves in inflationary practices, French hens are making Christmas more expensive for everyone, as well. At $255.00 for a trio of hens, the price is up 40.5% from last year. You will need thirty of these, setting you back $2,550.

Calling Birds

Calling Birds have been slow to adopt texting technology. This may be why they have defied the price-increase trend of their cousins. At $599.96 for a set of four, Calling Birds are still a wee bit pricey, but it has remained unchanged for the past two years. Thirty-six of them will cost you $5,399.64.

Golden Rings

The only non-living gift on the list is jewelry. That’s usually a safe choice for a gift. Assuming “golden” doesn’t refer to a cheap knock-off color but indicates composition of gold, the price for 5 such rings $895. This is an increase of 8.5%, but you will save on wrapping paper. You can put all 40 rings — costing $7,160 — in a single box.


Geese are highly volatile creatures — particularly while they are protecting their nests. That volatility extends to their price, sending it up 57.1% from last year. Half a dozen of these creatures go for $660. That will put you back $4,620 for the lot of them. One thing to consider is that geese typically lay eggs only from April to June, so you might have to bend the rules a bit on this gift. On the other hand, with 42 geese laying an egg roughly every two days, that’s approximately 160 dozen eggs through the spring. You can sell the eggs for about $1,120, recouping a bit of your expenses.


The good news is that swan prices have held steady this year. The bad news is that a set of seven will still cost you $13,125. The lot of them go for $78,750, making them the most expensive commodity on your list. They also have to be swimming in order to meet the true meaning of the lyrics. Presumably, your true love has running water, so that is not added to the price. The real question is whether your true love’s bathtub is big enough.


We may be splitting hairs here, but the Commonplace Fun Facts Legal Department has pointed out that the gift in question is limited to the maids who are milking and does not include whatever animal is being milked or the milk that is collected. An utterly impractical gift, if you ask us. Furthermore, the song specifies that the maids be in the act of milking at the time of the gift. This presents some troubling logistical issues in terms of how to wrap this present and what to do about the aforesaid animals and milk. With any luck, your true love has a herd of milkable animals wandering in the vicinity. We also choose to interpret this and subsequent gifts involving people as hiring contracted labor and not something that violates human trafficking laws. We therefore assume that you will hire the maids to show up at your true love’s home and enthrall everyone with a demonstration of how to milk a cow. Milking a cow by hand takes about 30 minutes, but there is travel time involved as well, so we’ll pay each of them for an hour. Assuming you do this in Kansas City, Missouri, where the minimum wage is $10.30 per hour, a set of 8 milking maids costs $84. In total, that will cost $420, one of the least expensive things on your list, but what are you going to see from a demonstration of 40 maids that you couldn’t have gotten from one?

Ladies Dancing

There are some who suggest that COVID social-distancing rules will prevent some of these traditions from being followed. We scoff at the notion. There’s no reason why the dancing ladies can’t wear masks. Assuming you can find willing workers, the cost for hiring nine of them to delight you with their Christmas choreography last year was $7,552.84. We see no reason why that should change. To get four groups of dancers, be prepared to spend $30,211.36.


COVID could create some problems for your gathering of ten leaping lords. Social distancing aside, if you live in a country that does not use titles of nobility, travel restrictions could severely limit the availability. If that is the case, you might want to grudgingly give a nod to the sovereign citizen argument that U.S. attorneys have accepted titles of nobility from the British crown. They will want the money, having forfeited their U.S. citizenship, and would probably be willing to gather at your true love’s home and leap around for a bit. Assuming the cost of leaping lords has not changed over the past year, ten of them will cost you $10,000. To get thirty of them for the task, the price will be $30,000.

Pipers Piping

Once again, depending on where you live, COVID rules on large gatherings may be a problem. Assuming you can coax 11 pipers together for the last-reported price, you will pay them $2,748.87. Getting 22 of them will put you back $5,497.74.

Drummers Drumming

If you have successfully overcome all the COVID restrictions to this point, getting twelve drummers won’t be any problem at all. Just be ready to hand them $2,972.25 for their services.

Adding It All Together

  • 12 partridges in pear trees — $2,672.16
  • 22 turtle doves — $4,950.00
  • 30 French hens — $2,550.00
  • 36 calling birds — $5,399.64
  • 40 gold rings — $7,160.00
  • 42 geese laying — $4,620.00
  • 42 swans — $78,750.00
  • 40 milking maids — $420.00
  • 36 dancing ladies — $30,211.36
  • 30 leaping lords — $30,000
  • 22 piping pipers — $5,497.74
  • 12 drumming drummers — $2,972.25
    • GROSS — $175,203.15
    • sale of goose eggs: $1,120.00
    • NET COST OF GIFTS: $174,083.15

Then again, there’s always the option of buying your true love a Spider-Man Chia Pet.

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