Bonuses comes with tax baggage
O Christmas tree, how lovely are your taxable branches

Cost of 12 days of Christmas cheer comes to $34,558.65

Merry Christmas Eve! I hope you have all your presents at least in hand, if not wrapped and under the tree.

And I hope they didn't set you back as much as the gifts given by the true love in the classic "12 Days of Christmas" tune.

Chapels Country Creamery milking of cows_USDA photo by Bob Nichols via Flickr CC
The least expensive of the 12 gifts in the classic Christmas carol was the eight milking maids. Maybe that's because, like farm manager Courtney Biggs at Chapel's Country Creamery in Easton, Maryland, they use modern milking methods. (U.S. Department of Agriculture photo by Bob Nichols via Flickr CC)

The annual PNC Christmas Price Index says that all those leaping lords and milking maids and the lone partridge will cost you $34,558.65 this year.

The good news, though, is that the 2017 cost is just 0.6 percent more than in 2016, according to The PNC Financial Services Group's 34th annual holiday economic analysis. That's less than the government's Consumer Price Index, which increased 2.2 percent through September for the past 12 months.

"The U.S. economy is growing at a sustainable pace, fueled by higher consumer confidence, low unemployment, modest wage gains, and low interest rates," said Thomas P. Melcher, chief investment officer for PNC Asset Management Group. "However, The PNC Christmas Price Index rose at slow steady pace of 0.6 percent in 2017, as companies appear hesitant to pass through price increases to the consumer."

Still, that nearly $35,000 (which likely includes taxes for many of the goods and services) shelled out by true loves for the multiple Christmas gifts is this week's By the Numbers figure.

Flat prices keep overall increase low: So exactly how do the gifts tallied by PNC Financial break out by cost in 2017?

Of the 12 items measured by the index, nine remained the same price as last year. That's the main reason this year's increase was small.

The three that did see price increases, according to PNC, were:

  • Partridge in a Pear Tree: The overall price for this top-of-list item increased 4.7 percent, but not because of the partridge. The pear tree increased 5.2 percent, from $189.99 to $199.95 due to increased cost of living for workers and the limited supply of larger, more mature trees.
  • Gold Rings: The largest growth rate in this year's index was the cost of five gold rings, which jumped 10 percent due to increased demand and popularity. Prices had remained steady at $750 during the last five years.
  • Lords A-Leaping: Despite wages rising modestly and a tight job market, only the lithe lords saw an increase, as prices jumped 2 percent to $5,618.90 after two years of stagnant growth.

Overall, here are the lyrical bottom-line amounts for the song's daily Christmas gifts this year:

1st Day of Christmas' partridge in a pear tree = $219.95

2nd Day of Christmas' two turtle doves = $375.00

3rd Day of Christmas' three French hens = $181.50

4th Day of Christmas' four calling birds = $599.96

5th Day of Christmas' five gold rings = $825.00

6th Day of Christmas' six geese a-laying = $360.00

7th Day of Christmas' seven swans a-swimming = $13,125.00

8th Day of Christmas' eight maids a-milking = $58.00

9th Day of Christmas' nine ladies dancing = $7,552.84

10th Day of Christmas' ten lords a-leaping = $5,618.90

11th Day of Christmas' eleven pipers piping = $2,708.40

12th Day of Christmas' twelve drummers drumming = $2,934.10

Historic true love Christmas costs: A PNC predecessor bank in Philadelphia began estimating the cost of the 12 Christmas gifts in the song in 1984 as a holiday client letter.

This price this year is 83 percent higher than the inaugural report 33 years ago.

As part of its annual tradition, PNC also tabulates the "True Cost of Christmas," which is the total cost of all items bestowed by a truly true love who repeats all the song's verses.

That comes to 364 gifts that cost a total of $157,558. This year's true love's true cost is approximately $1,000 more than in 2016 and more than $57,000 for such extravagant gifting in 1984.

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