Cost of gold boosts '12 Days of Christmas' shopping: poll

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Buying all the presents in "The 12 Days of Christmas" carol would cost nearly 400 dollars more than last year, with the prices of gold rings and French hens up sharply, a survey showed Monday.

The Christmas Price Index, a tally of how much it would cost to buy everything from the partridge in a pear tree to the 12 drummers drumming, was up just 1.8 percent or 385.46 dollars from last year, a survey compiled by PNC Financial Services showed.

The total price tag would be 21,465.56 dollars this year, it said.

The two items in the Christmas classic that saw the sharpest price rises were five gold rings - which would cost just under 500 dollars this year, up from 350 dollars in 2008 - and three French hens, which have gone up in price by 50 percent, to 45 dollars.

Overall, though, bird prices were down, and that had a big impact on the index because birds make up half of the gifts in 'The 12 Days of Christmas'.

Seven swans-a-swimming fell by 6.3 percent, from 5,600 dollars last year to 5,250 dollars in 2009.

The partridge in a pear tree package - for the bird and the tree - fell by 27.3 percent year-on-year: the partridge went for 10 dollars this year, a savings of 50 percent compared to 2008, while pear trees cost around 150 dollars this year, a quarter less than in 2008.

Six geese-a-laying would cost a true love 37.5 percent less this year than last, while four calling birds held steady year-on-year, costing in the ballpark of 600 dollars.

The only birds other than the French hens to increase in price were the two turtle doves, which rose 1.8 percent to nearly 56 dollars.

On the human side of the index, the cost of hiring women - whether the unskilled eight maids-a-milking, whose pay-rate was determined using the US federal minimum wage, or highly trained nine ladies dancing, who for the purposes of the index were from the Pennsylvania Ballet Company, went up.

Hiring the other performers on the index - who with the exception of 10 lords-a-leaping could be male or female - stayed the same.

The maids-a-milking would cost 58 dollars to hire this year, or around 11 percent more than in 2008, while the ladies dancing cost 5,473 dollars this year, up from 4,759 dollars in 2008.

Twelve drummers drumming, 11 pipers piping and 10 lords-a-leaping saw no change in their take-home pay, earning 2,475 dollars, 2,285 dollars and 4,414 dollars respectively.