The 12 Days of Christmas Are Expensive!!!

The 12 Days of Christmas song is a classic that everybody knows, but how does it measure up in terms of practicality?

You must really know this is your true love to shower them with this many gifts. The song espouses living and giving in excess, the opposite of what I try to encourage all of my readers to do, be frugal.

Frugality is the starting point for all your wealth. You cannot build wealth if you do not somewhat control your spending. The antagonist (true love gift giver) of the 12 Days of Christmas is definitely not a frugal person when it comes to dishing out gifts. Everybody likes a generous person and acts of kindness can definitely help you out as well.

Let’s take a look at how much he spends on gifts in the song and how it all plays out by looking at the numbers.

Credit has to go to PNC for creating the PNC Christmas Price Index. For 30+ years, they have been researching the going market price on all 12 items which provide this analysis with much-improved accuracy.

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The 12 Days of Christmas

ItemPrice eachPrice TotalPrice for all 12 Days of ChristmasTotal Items Purchased
1 Partridge in a Pear Tree$220$220$2,64012
2 Turtle Doves$188$375$4,12522
3 French Hens$61$182$1,82030
4 Calling Birds$150$600$5,40036
5 Gold Rings$165$825$6,60040
6 Geese-a-Laying$60$360$2,52042
7 Swans-a-Swimming$1,875$13,125$78,75042
8 Maids-a-Milking$7$58$29040
9 Ladies Dancing$839$7,553$30,21236
10 Lords-a-Leaping$562$5,619$16,85730
11 Pipers Piping$246$2,708$5,41622
12 Drummers Drumming$245$2,934$2,93412

As a refresher on the song, check out the above table to find the 12 items. The first thing that pops out and was a huge surprise was the most expensive item was the swan. Not only is it the most expensive item on the list, you also buy more swans than any other item!

Over the 12 days of Christmas, you receive a grand total of 42 swans costing a whopping $78,750!

The True Love’s Cost

Being the true love of the 12 Days of Christmas entails huge spending, but the cost per day up until you get to the swans is not too bad. As you can see in the above graph, the cost on Day 6 is $2562 and then you add $13,125 worth of swans each day after, so your cost really starts to rise.

You can really see the compounding effect of the swans cost in the cumulative cost graph below:

Ramping up cumulative cost of the 12 Days of Christmas.

After day 6, the true love has spent $7,733.

After day 7, he is at $23,420 spent on gifts. It only gets more outrageous from there.

If we took the super high priced swans out of the song and gave no gift at 7 items per day, then your total cost would be $78,814, 50% of the total cost.

Take a look at the below bar graph which displays the total gifts received/given of each type:

In this plot, we see a perfectly shaped distribution of gifts received. The true love would have been much better off if he had given 1 swan per day for a total of 12 swans, instead of the maximum number of swans.

The most illuminating distribution of cost is the pie chart below, which definitively shows the effect of swans on our true love’s expenditures.

pie chart 12 days of Christmas

All said and done, our true love spent 50% of his total on swans-a-swimming, with the next most expensive item being the ladies dancing at 19% of the total. To put that in perspective, an evenly distributed cost would be ~8% per item.


The protagonist true love of the 12 Days of Christmas must be a rich man to spoil his true love with so many gifts, 364 in total. However, we should probably not follow in his footsteps.

If you have to shower your true love with gifts to have them love you, then you are in for a lifetime of working hard and never getting ahead. When your expenses are equal to or greater than your income then you are on the eternal hamster wheel going nowhere.

In order to get ahead in life money-wise, you need to pay yourself first.

Did the true love do this?

It is possible that he paid himself first, but he would have to be making around $788,820 per year for his gifts to equal 20% of his income with no other gift expenses. At that kind of income, he would be able to save at least 10% and still live a really affluent lifestyle.

But then you think of the recipient of all of these gifts. What would she possibly do with 42 swans, 42 geese, etc?

If it were me, I would thank my true love and then promptly look to sell them to regain all the money spent. Why buy so many things that really make you a slave to your possessions when you can buy experiences around the world?

For $157,764, you can travel the world for several years and live a whole new life.

There is so much more out there than physical gifts. The true spirit of Christmas is being with your friends and loved ones and enjoying each other’s company. We should take the time over the holidays to really appreciate what we have.

Merry Christmas everybody!

So readers, what do think of our true love’s super lavish gift giving?

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The 12 Days of Christmas as extremely expensive. Do you want to be the true love that spends $157,564 on gifts for one person? Learn to be frugal, budget hack, and live life with less to become rich and wealthy.