Twelve days of not so on-song gifts

00:31, Dec 17 2013
Christmas tree
SURPRISE: How would you feel if there was a bird under your tree?

The Twelve Days of Christmas is a carol about a true love sending someone an assortment of gifts (mainly birds). But how practical are those gifts and what are some of the pitfalls the recipient may face? Liam Hyslop examines the lyrics, and his wallet.

Partridge in a Pear Tree

Overall: 4/10

Practicality: 8/10

Price: $242

Most of the things in this list will actually do something interesting, but this one is just boring. Pears are apples' poor cousins, with an underwhelming flavour and droopy look. The partridge is a game bird so if, by chance, it's still alive when you get it, it's likely to take flight at its first sight of humans. So really, you're just gifting a pear tree and maybe that's better than nothing. Maybe. A treasure for the agriculturalist in your life.


2 Turtle Doves

Overall: 2/10

Practicality: 1/10

Price: $151

The cheapest of all the fowl on this list, but probably the most useless. Most of the other birds will lay a few eggs or act as a guard dog and with the partridge you do get a pear tree thrown in, but the turtle doves really serve no purpose. They are reasonably nice to look at, but what else can you do with them? One for the hopeless romantic. Emphasis on hopeless.   

3 French Hens

Overall: 5/10

Practicality: 5/10

Price: $200

Not a terrible gift, this one. Being French hens they may exude a level of arrogance you wouldn't expect from your standard Kiwi hen. Also, don't let them breed otherwise you might end up like this little fella who ended up being hounded by a brood of hens. Old McDonald would like this gift.

4 Calling Birds

Overall: 1/10

Practicality: 2/10

Price: $727

There are few things more annoying in this world than a constantly calling bird. The novelty of their cuteness will quickly wear off as they squawk their way through your favourite rom-com or All Blacks rugby test match. It can get to ear piercing levels like this bird and will be sure to test your patience. Only for the crazy bird person.

5 Golden Rings

Overall: 10/10

Practicality: 10/10

Price: $1000

As Beyonce sang if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it, so why not make her really happy and give her five? This is probably the only gift in the song which the true love actually kept (or sold). What says Christmas more than a golden ring? Why not make it really special by giving one for each digit on the recipient's favoured hand? A truly faultless gift for almost anyone.

6 Geese a Laying

Overall: 8/10

Practicality: 6/10

Price: $254

This is the gift that keeps on giving, especially if you get the goose that lays the golden egg. A much cheaper alternative to the swans a swimming, and they actually have a function. Good burglar alarms too, their honking once having saved Rome from being sacked by the Gauls. They do pose the same problem as the swans, however, as this businessman found out. A good gift for those capable of housing geese.

7 Swans a Swimming

Overall: 2/10

Practicality: 2/10

Price: $7000

Swans are mean. You will not want seven of them. Especially not at $1000 a pop. Just look what happened to this woman on her wedding day. Another problem is the availability of water for them to swim in. This gift is best given to someone with an evil lair surrounded by a moat who has a shortage of guard dogs and crocodiles.

8 Maids a Milking

Overall: 1/10

Practicality: 0/10

Price: $110 per hour (cow excluded)

There is a glaringly obvious problem with this gift, the absence of anything to milk. You've basically been given eight minimum wage workers who will presumably only milk cows, or maybe the occasional goat. You will need several cows to get full value. The perfect gift for your rural cousin.

9 Ladies Dancing

Overall: 4/10

Practicality: 3/10

Price: $9142

You can probably head down to your local cougar hangout and find nine lovely ladies cutting some awkward shapes for free, but if you want the professional "ladies dancing" experience you will need to pay. Take whatever inference you like from the word "professional" but no matter what kind of professional you opt for, it will still be a rather pricey buy. A gift for the creepy uncle to keep him occupied... perhaps.

10 Lords a Leaping

Overall: 4/10

Practicality: 2/10

Price: $6347

A relatively expensive commodity since it is presumably just a bunch of men prancing around a lot. Hopefully you don't get these two charmers but without the assistance of alcohol or drugs the only men who generally prance about are ballet dancers, or English cricketers facing an Australian fast bowler. Hiring them will prove an expensive endeavour. One for the cultured relative.

11 Pipers Piping

Overall: 5/10

Practicality: 3/10

Price: $3190

Probably a gift for the more distinguished relative. Unlike the drummers (coming up soon) they will provide a more peaceful tune to your holiday festivities but pipers have rarely been prominent in modern society with the exception of Ron Burgundy's epic pan flute solo and even that wasn't really piping. Realistically just a gift for geriatrics.

12 Drummers Drumming

Overall: 3/10

Practicality: 1/10

Price: (Variable depending on level of drummer) $3453

Anyone who has bought their child a drum kit for Christmas knows how annoying one drummer is, so imagine the chaos of 12 of the them ripping holes in your ear drums. You might be lucky and get the likes of Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts or Keith Moon from The Who playing a set but once they finish there is a strong prospect of them destroying your living room so buyer beware. Maybe a gift for a bogan friend.

Prices provided by American financial group PNC, who have complied a Christmas price index for 30 years, but converted to New Zealand dollars.