A gift list most fowl

18:51, Dec 07 2014

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.

A 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.

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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. 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 romcom or All Blacks rugby test match. 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. 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 at $1000 a pop. Another problem is the availability of water for them to swim in. This gift is best for someone with an evil lair surrounded by a moat who has a shortage of crocodiles.

8 MAIDS A MILKING

Overall: 1/10

Practicality: 0/10

Price: $110 per hour (cow excluded)

There is a glaringly obvious problem here, the absence of anything to milk. You've basically been given eight minimum wage workers who presumably only milk cows, or maybe the odd goat. You need several cows to get full value. Best 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", it will still be a rather pricey buy. A gift for the creepy uncle?

10 LORDS A LEAPING

Overall: 4/10

Practicality: 2/10

Price: $6347

A relatively dear commodity since it is presumably just a bunch of men prancing around. Without the aid of alcohol or drugs the only men who generally prance are ballet dancers, or English cricketers facing an Australian fast bowler. Hiring them will be expensive. 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 (below) they will provide a more peaceful tune to your festivities. Realistically only for geriatrics.

12 DRUMMERS DRUMMING

Overall: 3/10

Practicality: 1/10

Price: (Variable) $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 them ripping holes in your eardrums. You might be lucky and get the likes of Charlie Watts or Keith Moon but there is a strong prospect of them destroying your home so buyer beware. Ideal for a bogan mate.

- Prices by American financial group PNC, which has compiled a Christmas price index for 30 years, but converted to NZ dollars.

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