Christmas Song Costs A Lot Of Money

The resident economists at the Old Gold & Black have some tough news for any Wake Forest students looking to recreate “The Twelve Days of Christmas” for their “true love” this holiday season: it doesn’t look like it’ll fit in the average college student’s budget. But take it from the ill-fated relationship between Andy and Erin in The Office — all those birds might not really be conducive for romance.

PNC Financial Services Group’s Christmas Price Index, or the PNC CPI, is calculated using a method similar to the “market basket” used to calculate the government consumer price index (CPI), which measures inflation. While replicating the song isn’t cheap — the total cost would be more than $170,000 — that’s less than one percent more than last year. Price increases in the rest of the economy averaged about 1.8% in 2019.

The lower inflation rate for “The Twelve Days of Christmas” can partially be explained by the plunging prices of partridges and turtle doves, although if you’re looking to give your sweetheart some egg-laying geese, be prepared for a significantly steeper cost. Since the federal minimum wage last saw a hike in 2009, the cost to hire eight maids a-milking has been stagnant for the past 10 years, although as the labor market tightens, the cost to hire higher-skilled laborers, such as lords a-leaping and pipers piping, has increased modestly.

Here’s a breakdown of how much the entire song would cost, assuming you bought each gift each time as it was repeated over and over (and over and over). PNC derives its prices from the same pet stores, hatcheries, plant nurseries, dance companies and other vendors each year.

A partridge in a pear tree, times 12:      

$2,522.04

(Down 4.5% from last year)

Two turtle doves, times 11:

$3,300

(Down 20% from last year)

Three French hens, times 10:

$1,815

(Stable from last year)

Four calling birds, times 9:

$5,399.64

(Stable from last year)

Five golden rings, times 8:

$6,600

(Up 10% from last year)

Six geese a-laying, times 7:

$2,940

(Up 7.7% from last year)

Seven swans a-swimming, times 6:

$78,750

(Stable from last year)

Eight maids a-milking, times 5:

$290

(Stable from last year; based on federal minimum wage)

Nine ladies dancing, times 4: $30,211.36

(Stable from last year; reflective of the cost of a ballet company)

Ten lords a-leaping, times 3:

$30,000

(Stable from last year; reflective of the cost of a ballet company)

Eleven pipers piping, times 2: $5,297.74

(Up 0.8% from last year)

Twelve drummers drumming, times 1: $2,972.25

(Up 0.8% from last year)

Cumulative cost:

$170,298.03

(Stable from last year)

The takeaway? Swans are f*cking expensive. My advice is to treat your sweetheart to a nice date instead. The gifts in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” aren’t that dorm room-friendly, anyway.