How Much did our True Love Spend on the 12 Days of Christmas?

How Much did our True Love Spend on the 12 Days of Christmas? image

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…


Of course, we all know the song. Partridge in a pear tree, French hens, lords a-leaping, maids a-milking and so on.

But how much did the true love spend on it all? It sounds like a lot: so in the spirit of Christmas – and in the confident expectation that he’d fully funded his ISA for the tax year before he went to such expense – we thought we’d try to estimate it. 

What really pushes the cost up, of course, is repeating all the gifts. To say nothing of transport costs – did he need to hire a minibus for the 11 pipers piping? And then there’s public liability insurance: lords a-leaping, swans a-swimming… The possibilities for injury and damage don’t bear thinking about. 

But it all starts off relatively cheaply. An oven-ready partridge can certainly be bought for less than a fiver, and most garden centres will sell you a pear tree for around £30. Turtle doves and French hens are more expensive than the partridge, but our true love should still only be spending around £30 a day. 

Four calling birds - on the assumption that our true love went for songbirds, four common starlings might be had relatively cheaply. If he went for hand-carved songbirds, he could be looking at anything up to £200 or £300. 

It starts to get expensive, of course, with the five gold rings. Depending on the quality of the gold we’re now moving into thousands, not hundreds. Let’s say £1,500. 

As for six geese a-laying, if we assume that the geese are ‘oven-ready for your Christmas’ then anywhere from £50 to £125 each, depending on the size of your family. Free range goose eggs are around £10 for half a dozen. 

We now come to seven swans a-swimming. As most people know, all unclaimed swans in the UK are the property of Her Majesty. Perhaps a painting might be a safer bet than stealing seven of the Queen’s swans. Let’s say £500. 

Maids a-milking and ladies dancing. If our true love were to hire actors to do the job he’d be looking at around £100 to £150 per day if he paid the lowest rate on the Equity scale. Electronic milking machines and nine ladies from Strictly would send the cost skyrocketing. He’s spent quite enough: let’s say £1,200 a day for the maids and £1,500 for the ladies dancing. 

The daily attendance rate in the House of Lords is £305, so on the assumption he could find ten of their Lordships prepared to leap about: £3,050. More expensive than the pipers, where the day rate seems to be around £200 per piper, giving him a total of £2,200. Finally, a professional drummer can be had for almost exactly the same fee as a member of the House of Lords – so £3,600 for 12 of them. 

Some of the ‘twelve days’ we’ve listed have options. How big a goose does he buy? Real milkmaids or machines? But even if our true love goes for the cheapest option, simply buying all twelve ‘days’ will leave him with very little change from £15,000. Repeating all the items as per the song will mean that his cost of Christmas is anywhere between £50,000 and £60,000. 

As we suggested above, this is a man who needs to make sure his financial planning is up to date…

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