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Ever Wonder about the 2020 Cost of the 12 Days of Christmas?

12 Days of Christmas; Source unknown

The cost of the fanciful mix of gifts described in the classic carol, The 12 Days of Christmas, has been tracked for over a quarter of a century.

The good news is that since last year, the true cost of Christmas has come down dramatically.

The bad news? Four of the 12 items are not available in 2020.

I examine this every year … just for fun … and for the last 5 years, the total cost of the basket was approaching $40,000.

Not that there’s anything wrong with a basket of assorted swans, geese, French hens and turtle doves … I’d prefer a beef tenderloin myself … but who would have expected to spend almost $40,000 for the entire basket?

The COVID-19 Pandemic Made a Huge Difference

The PNC Christmas Price Index, courtesy of PNC


PNC Wealth Management has carefully tracked these costs for more than 25 years. Each year, they expand the offerings with gifts, activities and associated crafts. You can find all of the 2020 details here.

So, What Did All This Goodness Cost in 2020?

As you might expect, the COVID-19 pandemic we’re all living with has triggered changes throughout the economy, many of which resulted in the cancellation of most live performances, which is the source of some of the most expensive items in this bundle.

What I don’t like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day. ~ Phyllis Diller

You can see from the PNC Graph below that since 2004, the cost of the index has gone from around $24,000 to just short of $39,000 last year, a 66% increase over that period. It has barely changed over the last 5 years … until now.

In this crazy 2020 year, PNC summarized the results this way:

The goods and services in the PNC Christmas Price Index® are far more whimsical, of course. And most years, the price changes closely mirror those in the U.S. Consumer Price Index. This year, the approach to PNC’s CPI takes into account the sociopolitical environment brought on by the pandemic by using the Index to provide an analysis of current market conditions, while including the impacts of COVID-19 as highlighted by the data.

Four of the Most Expensive Items are Missing This Year

Sadly, the last 4 items aren’t available this year since the pandemic limited most live performances.

As a result, the cost of the total basket is only $16,168.14, a drop of almost 59%.

Although PNC didn’t present this calculation, my mathematical inclinations led me to calculate the comparative cost of only the items that were available.

The cost increase is only modest for the 8 available items, coming in at only 3%. For the record, the largest increase was for Two Turtle Doves, climbing 50% to $450.

Historically, the most expensive item by far has been Seven-Swans-A-Swimming, last year costing over $13,000. This year? Not available … and neither are the Nine Ladies Dancing, Ten Lords-a-Leaping or Eleven Pipers Piping. (Things you always wanted for Christmas, right?

Last year, Ten Lords-A-Leaping would only set you back $10,000, a few grand more than Nine Ladies Dancing. Cheaper to just get Eight Maids-A-Milking for a measly $58. (At that price, make it a dozen!)

Are People More Expensive? Alas, not.

The biggest item among the eight that are available is for Seven Swans-a-Swimming. Their cost of $13,125 is unchanged over last year, but they represent over 80% of the entire package, which is why the overall cost has barely changed.

What is the Total Cost?

If you count each repetition in the song for each gift, it would be 364 presents and this year it would cost $105,561.80, down 38% over last year, again largely because of the four missing items.

I’ll keep checking my mailbox if you’re sending this package my way. It’s cheaper than it’s ever been, or likely will be, so don’t miss this special opportunity.

Happy Holidays!

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