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The escalating costs of a true love's lyrical Christmas gifts

Merry Christmas!

I hope you got everything you wanted this year.

For most of us of a certain age, the items under our trees are not the most important gifts of the holiday season. But it's still fun to have a package or two to open.

Christmas tree 2012-1a

And it's also fun, and financially interesting, to look at what it would cost for a true love to give all the gifts enumerated in the traditional "Twelve Days of Christmas" song.

Christmas' increasing costs: This is the 29th year that PNC Wealth Management analysts have crunched numbers to find out how much all those birds and performers, along with some jewelry, a group of dairy employees and a tree, would set us back.

The bottom line in 2012: This holiday season is the most expensive year ever.

True loves who give the complete gift, that is all the items given by repeating all of the traditional song's verses, will pay a whopping $107,300.24.

That's 6.1 percent more than the $101,119.84 last year.

Here's the breakdown by each of the verses' items.

12 days day 1 partridgeOne partridge, costs $15, the same as in 2011. The pear tree, however, is $20 more in 2012, going from $169.99 to $189.99.

12 days day 2 turtle dovesTwo turtle doves also held the line, remaining at the 2011 price of $125 for the pair.

12 days day 3 french hensThree French hens, however, were more expensive, increasing in 2012 by 10 percent from $150 to $165 for the fancy fowl.

12 days day 4 calling birdsFour calling birds are pricey, but no more than they were last year. They are still $519.96 for the quartet.

12 days day 5 golden ringsFive gold rings did increase by more than 16 percent this year, but still seem to be a bargain given the way gold prices have escalated. The cost in 2012 for enough golden bands to fit one hand's four fingers and thumb is $750.

12 days day 6 geese a-layingSix geese-a-laying's price took the biggest jump, 29.6 percent. In 2011 the productive birds cost $162. In 2012 the price is $210.

12 days day 7 swans a-swimmingSeven swans-a-swimming will really set a true love gift giver back. The elegant swimmers, which PNC notes tend to be the most volatile items in the annual Christmas Price Index (CPI), cost $6,300 in 2011; in 2012 the price is $7,000.

12 days day 8 maids a-milkingEight maids-a-milking can be hired in 2012 at the same wage as in 2011 and mere pittance at that. As the only unskilled laborers in the PNC CPI, the women receive the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, coming to $58 for all eight for 60 minutes of work.

12 days day 9 ladies dancingNine ladies dancing salaries held steady, too. They were paid in both 2011 and this year $6,294.03 as a group.

12 days day 10 lords a-leapingTen lords-a-leaping also are the same price in 2012 as in 2011: $4,766.70 for the group of athletic gentlemen.

12 days day 11 pipers pipingEleven pipers piping did get a 5.5 percent raise, going from $2,427.60 in 2011 to $2,562 in 2012.

12 days day 12 drummers drummingTwelve drummers drumming round out the annual gift collection. The dozen drummers also got 5.5 percent more this year, going from $2,629.90 in 2011 to $2,775.50 in 2012.

"The rise of the PNC CPI is larger than expected considering the modest economic growth we've had over the past 12 months," said Jim Dunigan, managing executive of investments for PNC Wealth Management.

One reason for the hikes, especially for the birds, was the drought, said Dunigan, which caused the price of the ornithological gifts feed to be more expensive.

Even more online: And if you prefer to shop for your true love's gifts via the Web, get ready to pay even more.

The cost of Christmas in song by Internet purchases will set a buyer back $177,957.93. That's 2.1 percent more than last year's $174,382.93 cost.

"In general, Internet prices are higher than their non-Internet counterparts because of premium shipping costs for birds and the convenience factor of shopping online," according to Dunigan.

I hope you and your true love got exactly what each of you wanted, and at good prices, this holiday season, be it pet birds or other creatures, tickets to a ballet or a rock concert, some nice jewelry or the love of your family and friends.

Merry Christmas!

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