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True love: For the 'Twelve Days,' another year of rising costs ends at $197,071.09

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Alan Wooten

(The Center Square) – The tune is oh so familiar.

Not just the “and a partridge in a pear tree.” We’re talking “more than last year.”

Financial services firm PNC has for 39 years compiled the consumer costs for those who would wish to make corresponding purchases for their true love replicating “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

The fun, uplifting English Christmas carol is a staple of the holiday season. Though the gifts mentioned in the song aren’t normally what we look for when shopping local or at online retailers like Amazon, they’re a whimsical variety and certainly not immune to inflation – which in America has risen to a 40-year high.

Singing through, adding respective verses each time, it’s a $197,071.09 buy this year. Or, just for the 12 items individually one time through – PNC calls it the core index, excluding swans – write the check for $32,398.34. With the swans, $45,523.27.


The true cost is up 9.8 percent and the core cost is up 15.4 percent sans the swans.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • A partridge in a pear tree: $280.18. That’s up 25.8 percent. Song has 12 verses. Have mercy!
  • Two turtle doves: $600. Going up 33.3 percent, it’s mainly because of the rising cost of feed, PNC tells us.
  • Three French hens: $318.75. Up 25 percent, and again, rising cost of feed.
  • Four calling birds: $599.96. No change! Well, there’s some good news. Keep singing!
  • Five golden rings: $1,245. At 39.1 percent up, it’s the largest increase in the index. Commodity prices have risen, PNC says.
  • Six geese-a-laying: $720. PNC says the birds “are laying down another large tab in 2022,” and it’s hard to disagree with a 9.1 percent increase.
  • Seven swans-a-swimming: $13,124.93. Thankfully, no higher this year. But what else can we spend $13,000 on? Just sayin’!
  • Eight maids-a-milking: $58. Ah, the consistency we’ve needed. Or not? Only reason it hasn’t increased since 2009 is federal minimum wage has not increased since then. We’ll call it a bargain, and we all need that this time of year.
  • Nine ladies dancing: $8,308.12. Going up 10 percent. Helping set the overall standard for sure. They must have great footwork, though.
  • Ten lords-a-leaping: $13,980. With a 24.2 percent jump, this gift’s silver lining is it comes late in the song. It’s the most expensive in the index.
  • Eleven pipers piping: $3,021.40. Only up 2.6 percent, and only twice through in the song – so a definite bargain shopper’s delight.
  • Twelve drummers drumming: $3,266.93. Tight labor market, PNC and all other media sources tell us, so the 2.6 percent rise is another bargain. Maybe too big for the stocking stuffer selections, but certainly bang for the buck under the tree.

PNC assures this is like the U.S. Consumer Price Index. That’s the measure of housing, food, clothing, transportation prices, and other things average Americans purchase.

The first year of the index, in 1984, the cost was $20,069.58. PNC calculated the increase as 1.5 percent. Only three times has the percentage decreased, the last in 2002 and by a whopping 10.7 percent.