12 Days of Christmas: Frugal Makeover Edition

For 2013, the total cost to buy your True Love all the items listed in the 12 Days of Christmas would run you a whopping $114,651 (source: Huffington Post). When I heard this figure the other day, I accepted that as a challenge to redo the 12 Days… on a budget. With that, here’s the new, improved, and 99% discounted version for my frugal-loving pals.

1st Day of Christmas: Partridge in a Pear Tree

2013 Cost: $199.99


How about instead of one partridge – you get an entire Partridge Family CD – for the low price of $7.29 on Amazon? As far as the pear tree goes, you can buy a pear rootstock at Raintree Nursery right now for just $3.50 (or as low as $1.85 each if you bought 25+).  Sure it may not be a lush pear tree full of fruit, but how would you seriously gift that to your True Love anyways?

New Cost: $10.79
Savings: $189.20!

2nd Day of Christmas: Two Turtle Doves

2013 Cost: $125.00

Think twice before gifting live birds for Christmas! I mean, all you’ve really done is given your True Love a responsibility to feed, care for, and shelter a new pet. If Turtle Doves are anything like pigeons, they’ll be pooping everywhere, too. Plus, $125 is lot of money, especially if you’ve already plunked down $200 for another bird and a tree.

I found a real deal for you for Two Turtle Doves… it’s this exciting Kindle book called (wait for it…) Two Turtle Doves. And it’s only $0.99!


New Cost: $0.99
Savings: $124.01!

3rd Day of Christmas: 3 French Hens

2013 Cost: $125.00

Seriously? More birds? Anyhow, I’m pretty sure the last thing any reasonable person wants to do is plunk down 125 smackers on three birds for a Christmas gift.


Well the good news is I found these adorable plush French Hens from the Audubon Society for just $6.99 each on Amazon ($20.97 for the set of three). They even make an authentic french hen sound when pressed, so I doubt your True Love will be none the wiser.

New Cost: $20.97
Savings: $104.03!

4th Day of Christmas: 4 Calling Birds

2013 Cost: $599.96


How about instead of 4 calling birds for $599.96 you buy 4 bird calls for $24.40 on Amazon ($6.10 each)?

My Cost: $24.40
Savings: $575.36

5th Day of Christmas: 5 Golden Rings

2013 Cost: $750.00


Let’s face it: solid gold is expensive. One easy workaround is to simply buy 5 gold-plated rings. A quick search on Amazon produced this frugal option – a girl’s gold-plated crystal rose ring for the low price of $5.28. You could  buy 142 of these rings versus 5 of the fancy pants ones. Think about it.

My Cost: $26.40
Savings: $723.60!

6th Day of Christmas: 6 Geese a-Laying

2013 Cost: $210.00


At this point, maybe you should just buy your True Love a farm to put all these birds! Instead of real live actual geese that will lay eggs all over your living room, how about this charming garden banner for the low price of $9.99 on Amazon? As a bonus, all 6 geese are displayed on the banner which means you’ll only need to buy one. Score!

My Cost: $9.99
Savings: $700.01!

7th Day of Christmas: 7 Swans a-Swimming 

2013 Cost: $7,000.00

Thank goodness this is the last of the days of Christmas where the gift involves fowl! And it’s a good thing – those 7 swans will run you a whopping $1k a pop!


I think your True Love and 6 of his/her closest friends will have a much more enjoyable time on these inflatable swans. They are $36.59 each right now on Amazon.

My Cost: $256.13
Savings: $6,743.87!

8th Day of Christmas: 8 Maids a-Milking

2013 Cost: $58.00

I’m beginning to wonder how some of these figures were calculated. Really, $58 sounds like a steal for 8 maids a-milking to me whereas the swans sound wayyyy overpriced. But of course, I knew I could top $58. I asked my husband for help on this one and he reminded me of this fun candy:


I found 1 lb bag of Milk-Maid Candy for $9.99 on Amazon (as an add-on item), but I suspect you could find it cheaper elsewhere. Maybe WinCo carries it in the bulk bins? I’m unsure how many candies are included in a 1 lb package, but I’d venture to say there are at least 8 pieces.

My Cost: $9.99
Savings: $48.01!

9th Day of Christmas: 9 Ladies Dancing 

2013 Cost: $7,552.84

At $7,552.84, that’ll run you $839.20 per lady dancing. I’m curious what kind of ladies are doing the dancing, and for how long. I’ve got to believe you could go to your local shopping mall or grocery store and easily convince 9 random ladies to do Gangnam Style for you for even a small fraction of $839.20. Heck, I’d do it for $25. (Note to everyone reading this if you find me in your local shopping mall or grocery store.)


Perhaps more enjoyable (and coordinated) than random ladies in a shopping mall dancing to Gangnam Style would be to see the classic Nutcracker Ballet performed by Pacific Northwest Ballet at McCaw Hall. Believe it or not, you can buy discounted tickets right now on Goldstar for nearly 40% off! Tickets start at $25, so as low as $50 for you and your True Love to have a special night out.

My Cost: as low as $50
Savings: $7,502.84!

10th Day of Christmas: 10 Lords a-Leaping

2013 Cost: $5,243.37


I’m guessing it’s going to be pretty hard to find actual Lords that are available to stop by your True Love’s house and leap around. (Do we even have Lords in America?)

Instead – how about this charming Blackberry Phone cover for $8.45 on Amazon?

My Cost: $8.45
Savings: $5,234.92!

11th Day of Christmas: 11 Pipers Piping

2013 Cost: $7,552.84

I find it funny that the cost for 11 Pipers Piping is the exact same cost of 9 Ladies Dancing. What are the chances of that? Now my daughter just so happens to be named Piper and she loooveeesss tootin’ away on her recorder. Recorders are very inexpensive to buy and are guaranteed to provide maximum musical enjoyment for your True Love.


I found this cute pink recorder for $4.99 on Amazon. All you need to do is purchase 11 and find 11 cute little girls named Piper willing to play them. (I’m sure my Piper will oblige.) Of course, if you can’t find 11 girls named Piper, chances are any 11 random kids will work just fine for this not-to-be-forgotten Christmas gift.

My Cost: $54.89
Savings: $7,497.95!

12th Day of Christmas: 12 Drummers Drumming 

2013 Cost: $2,854.80

The 12th Day of Christmas ends with a bang – but it doesn’t have to end by going $2,854.80 in the red.

drummerThis cat drum toy is $4.44 on Amazon (and hey, it even ships free!). Yeah, I recognize that it doesn’t entirely look like a cat, but it’s definitely got a drum, and that’s the main point of the 12th Day of Christmas.

My Cost: $53.28
Savings: $2,801.52!

Ready for the final tally? Drumoll, 12 strange cat drumming toys please….

Before Cost: $114,651 
My Cost: $526.87
Total Savings: $114,124.13 – a total savings rate of 99.5%!

So there you have it. You don’t have to take out a second mortgage to make the 12 Days of Christmas possible for your True Love this year. You’re welcome.


  1. KP says

    I was just telling my husband that the twelve days of christmas sounds more like something someone did to their worst enemy, between the twelve drummers drumming, eleven pipers piping and the assorted birds pooping everywhere :s

  2. Dawnie Campbell says

    Oh, Angela this is awesome. We should all do some research and see how low we can get that total number!!! I know a 12 year old named Pyper. She would have to join in via Skype, but that’s two Pypers, we would only need 9 more.

  3. Dawnie Campbell says

    Yes, Winco DOES have the Milk Maids. If you got 8 of them in bulk it would probably set you back about 40 cents!

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