What it costs to buy the '12 Days of Christmas' gifts

While a partridge in a pear tree has not been a fashionable gift to give in a very long time (if ever), it's the first present mentioned in the popular Christmas song "The 12 Days of Christmas." Every year, PNC Financial Services (NYSE: PNC) examines these 12 gifts -- from the almost-practical five golden rings to the downright puzzling nine dancing ladies -- and estimates what it would cost to buy them for your true love.

Most people's Christmas lists don't include seven swans-a-swimming. But if you have a lot of money to spend and you want to pull off the ultimate romantic gesture (or joke), you can buy all the gifts in "The 12 Days of Christmas" for an estimated $34,558.65 this year.

That's a pretty generous gift budget, and it's up 0.6% from last year, mostly because of "the cost increases for the Pear Tree, the increased demand for Golden Rings and wage increases for the Lords-a-Leaping," according to PNC.

With Christmas 12 days away, let's break down this nearly $35,000 shopping list. We'll bet you can't guess the cheapest or most expensive item!

What it costs to buy the '12 Days of Christmas' gifts
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What it costs to buy the '12 Days of Christmas' gifts

A partridge in a pear tree

This is actually two gifts in one, as you get both the bird and the fruit-bearing tree. The price of this gift rose 4.7% to $219.95 over the past year, which PNC attributed to an increase in the cost of the pear tree from $189.99 to $199.95.

2 turtle doves

Apparently the partridge needs a couple of friends -- and it will get them tomorrow. The price of two turtle doves, after rising 30% in 2016, has held steady in 2017 at $375.

3 French hens

The perfect fowls for a Francophile, these chickens could join your true love's menagerie of pet birds, or they could serve a more practical purpose if your true love is a backyard farmer. Whatever the recipient plans to do with them, three French Hens will set you back $181.50, the same as they did last year.

4 calling birds

If six birds weren't enough, "12 Days" now calls for four songbirds. Whether they can hang out in the pear tree is up to you, though the partridge may have some say in the matter. PNC's benchmark calling bird is the canary, and it says five of them will cost you $599.96 -- unchanged from last year.

5 golden rings

Finally, the gift list moves into something a bit more traditional, albeit in an excessive amount. Five 14-carat gold rings costs about $825, a 10% increase over last year "driven by increased demand and popularity," according to PNC.

6 geese-a-laying

And we're back to birds, though at least these geese will earn their keep by providing fresh eggs. At $360 for six, they're also a relative bargain compared to some of the other feathered presents on this list.

7 swans-a-swimming

Not only is this one impractical (unless your true love has a body of water big enough for seven swans to be "a-swimming"), but it's also wildly expensive at $13,125. Although PNC says the price of swans has historically been volatile, it stayed flat from year to year, and this septet of swans is still the most expensive gift on the list by far.

8 maids-a-milking

Another bizarre entry on the list, this one requires that the recipient of the gift also own cows. In addition, it may break labor laws, as it would be discriminatory to hire only women to milk your cows.

Setting aside those issues, PNC pegs the cost at $58 for an hour of milking. That's based on the federal minimum wage (the maids are the only unskilled laborers on this list), though your state may mandate a higher wage. Regardless, these maids' services are easily the cheapest gift of the bunch.

9 ladies dancing

PNC could have interpreted "ladies dancing" in any number of ways. In this case, it went with a nine-woman dance troupe, setting the price at $7,552.84, unchanged from last year.

10 lords-a-leaping

This one's also a bit challenging to define, but PNC set the price for 10 "high-flying men" at $5,681.90, up 2% from last year. Given that a new Star Wars movie is coming out, you may be able to hire 10 fellows dressed as Sith lords for less, but that's perhaps not in line with the song's intent.

11 pipers piping

A little music might help clear your head from the lords and their leaping, as well as the dancing ladies. Fortunately for you, wages for musicians have not increased since last year, so this will only cost you $2,708.40.

12 drummers drumming

From birds and rings to dancing and leaping, this gift list has taken a lot of weird turns.Now, finally, you can give your by-now perplexed love 12 drummers drumming. Much like pipers, drummers are pulling in the same wages they did last year (though they got a raise in 2016). This last gift will set you back $2,934.10.


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