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Most people are familiar with the old holiday classic “The 12 Days of Christmas,” but the actual cost of buying all the many gifts listed in the song is growing more expensive every year, and has exploded over the last three decades or so.

From a partridge in a pear tree to 12 drummers drumming, the cost of actually buying all of the gifts listed in that old holiday standard is quite high, rising 4.8 percent to $25,431.18, according to the PNC Christmas Price Index Gift Hunt 2012. Since 2007 alone, the total cost of acquiring all these gifts for one’s true love has risen nearly $6,000.

When it comes to the most expensive single Day of Christmas, it turns out the seventh is out in front, the report said. The cost for seven swans a-swimming is up 11.1 percent this year, and now stands at $7,000. That narrowly edged out the gift that comes just two days later, as nine ladies dancing held more or less steady, rising one cent to $6,294.03 from the totals seen in both 2010 and 2011.

Meanwhile, the least expensive of the Christmas gifts continues to be eight maids a-milking, which has held steady at just $58 since 2009, the report said. Two turtle doves and three French hens were also relatively cheap, with prices of $125 and $165, respectively. Interestingly, the partridge in a pear tree presented on the first day cost $204.99, up 10.8 percent from last year, though it’s unclear whether the bird or the plant makes up the larger portion of this price.

Perhaps counter intuitively, the Fifth Day of Christmas’s five golden rings were somewhat inexpensive, especially compared with hiring musicians and dancers, the report said. In all, the jewelry cost $750, but that was up 16.3 percent from last year as a result of rising gold prices. In fact, seven of the 12 gifts had higher prices this year than last year.

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As these growing costs show, consumers need to be vigilant this holiday season when trying to shop for all their loved ones. Looking for the best deals, making a shopping list, creating a budget, and avoiding impulse purchases can all serve to help shoppers spend only within their means.

Image: RBerteig, via Flickr

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