12 Days Of Christmas – Then And Now Costs

A collection of candy canes, (www.spanglercandy.com)

A collection of candy canes, (www.spanglercandy.com)

It’s that time of year again. The holiday cheer, the jovial scent of peppermint wafting in the air, and the inevitable a Capella caroling that is only matched in timbre by television pundits chanting “war on Christmas.” One of the most precious keepsakes of the vocal variety, if nothing but a test of endurance, is the classic “12 Days of Christmas.” Each year, for the past 32 years, the PNC Christmas Price Index® (CPI) has kept track of the outrageous costs “your” true love endured in the near-sociopathic pursuit to win “you” over.

The PNC Christmas Price Index

A Partridge in an open field.. Wait, what? (http://res-1.cloudinary.com/)

A Partridge in an open field.. Wait, what? (res-1.cloudinary.com)

Originating in 1984, chief economist at PNC Bank decided to figure out how much it would cost to buy each of the gifts (what the fly on the wall saw that day would have been worth writing about in and of itself). Much like the U.S. Consumer Price Index, which measures changes in prices of goods and services like housing, food, clothing, transportation, etc., the Christmas Price Index is a more whimsical way to help understand the spending habits of the average American.

According to the official website:

“..even if Pipers Piping or Geese-a-Laying didn’t make your gift list this year, you can still learn a lot by checking out how their prices have increased and decreased over the years.”

2015 CPI

The 12 stock images of christmas, (Forbes)

The 12 stock images of christmas, (Forbes)

In 1984 The combined total for all gifts as sung in the 12th and final verse of the song was calculated at $18,845.97 and slowly climbed over the decade reaching a peak in 1994 at $22,119.06. It dipped back down to $16,456.95 in 2002 but has climbed steadily ever since then, most notably through the recession, to its current value at $34,130.99; its highest point since the CPI began.

A few notable price changes from the 2014 CPI include:

  • 2 Turtledoves had an 11.5 percent increase to $290.00
  • 10 Lord-A-Leaping had a 3 percent increase to $5,508.70
  • 1 Partridge in a Pear Tree increased 3.5 percent to $214.99

More unsettling is the cumulative value of all the gifts if you were to include each repetition of the verse (a total of 314 gifts) which came out to a staggering $155,407.18.

Now if you really wanna mess things up, try calculating the averages as sung in the Hawaiian version of the song.

Follow along:

“…5 big fat pig[s], 4 flower leis, 3 dried squid, 2 coconuts, and 1 myna bird in 1 papaya tree.”


What are your thoughts? Does it concern you that someone would go through so much trouble for a holiday crush? Does it make you smile thinking about how much time and energy was spent figuring these numbers out? Join the conversation: comment below and share on Facebook!