The Gifts From ‘The 12 Days Of Christmas,’ Ranked


(Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in 2017. We’re republishing it again today because, well, it’s that time of year.)

Have you ever listened to the lyrics of “The 12 Days of Christmas”? I mean, really, truly listened to them. Because I’ll tell you what: If you do that and think about them for even five seconds, you will realize they are insane. Profoundly insane. Over the course of just under two weeks, the person singing the song receives a series of useless and terrible gifts from a person they repeatedly describe as their “true love.” Six of the gifts are birds. This person receives a total of 23 birds for Christmas. Why would anyone want or need 23 birds? I honestly have no idea. And that’s assuming each gift is given once and then just repeated in the song as a reminder. Because otherwise on the twelfth day of Christmas, the person is getting seven swans for a sixth consecutive day. That is 42 swans. This whole thing is already madness without bringing in that aspect of it.

How mad is it? Boy oh boy, am I ever glad you asked. Below, please find all of the gifts from “The 12 Days of Christmas,” ranked from most to least terrible.

Short version: Your true love is a lunatic.

12. Four calling birds

Do you know someone who has a bird as a pet? Like, one, single bird? It is not great! Birds are loud and loud in a very annoying way, usually involving squawks. Squawks are bad. Have you ever been surprised by a squawking bird in someone’s house, where you don’t know they have a pet bird in an upstairs room or something and you’re just looking for the bathroom and then all of a sudden there’s a horrible screech from a darkened room and it scares you so much that finding that bathroom is no longer a pressing issue? Uh, me neither. Definitely me neither. Birds are bad. That’s my point. And this maniac just gave you FOUR OF THEM.

And even if “calling” is different than “squawking,” and we’re talking about the little chirping you hear outside your window on dewy mornings in the spring, that’s still not great. Sure, that’s cute in that particular situation, but imagine non-stop chirping in your house, in stereo, from four birds, at like 2 AM on a work night. I’m not saying you’d snap and kill all those birds, but I’m also not saying you wouldn’t. You can’t be held accountable for your actions in that kind of situation, which is exactly what you should tell the cops when they show up after your neighbors complain about you shouting while heaving dead birds out your window.

11. Eleven pipers piping

If I understand this correctly, the pipers in question here are bagpipers. Eleven bagpipers are too many bagpipers. That I know for a fact. You could make an argument that one bagpiper is too many bagpipers. That’s more subjective, though. Your line might be somewhere different than mine on this one. But wherever you fall on the “How many bagpipers is too many bagpipers?” spectrum, eleven is definitely too many.

Even if you asked for bagpipers for Christmas, which is an absurd leap of logic to take but I’m doing it anyway because now I need to see this through, there is no way you would ask for eleven of them, or expect eleven if you left the number unspecified. If someone said to me “Hey, can you get me some dudes playing the bagpipes for Christmas?,” I would, first of all, look at them with a mixture of sadness and concern until I am able to contort my face back into a normal expression through sheer willpower, and then I would say “You’re sure about this?,” and if they say yes, I would order them a maximum of three bagpipers. It wouldn’t even dawn on me to get them eleven bagpipers. I don’t even know how one finds that many. Or if you even can. There might not be eleven bagpipers within a 50 mile radius of my house.

That said, I reserve the right to move this higher if by “piper” they mean “person who works on pipes.” Winter is here and a frozen pipe will cost you a fortune if it busts. Not the most romantic gift, but you can’t be too careful.