The 12 Days of Christmas – An Engineering Approach


Ok, so we’ve run a few numbers on the Twelve Days of Christmas scenario, and frankly, we have some concerns. It’s just not financially viable…

Check this, for each of the twelve days of Christmas my true love sends one new item and a repeat of every other previous item on the list. Now while this is appreciated and all, you’ve got to consider that I’m going to end up with 12 Partridges (and accompanying Pear Trees), 22 Turtle Doves, 30 French Hens, 36 Calling Birds, 40 Gold Rings, 42 Geese-a-Laying, 42 Swans-a-Swimming, 40 Maids-a-Milking, 36 Ladies Dancing, 30 Lords-a-Leaping, 22 Pipers Piping and 12 Drummers Drumming.

Let’s just clarify here. For the Twelve Days of Christmas, my true love is sending me a total of 184 birds and 140 humans to deal with. That’s a lot of housing and upkeep costs to consider. Not to mention the costs of sending Pear Trees via FedEx. And why have I got 40 Gold Rings? They’re pretty valuable, sure, but perhaps my true love is hinting at something? And if I went and sold said gold rings without prior consent, I’d have a lot more than bad gift choices to worry about…

On top of this, unless I’m planning on setting up an orchard, a jewelers, an avian wildlife sanctuary and a performing arts college for the new music genre “Drum and Pipes” and associated dance workshop, it’s not really the most useful list of assets I could’ve got is it? Of the 140 humans, 70% of them could be listed as dancers or musicians, which may prove a risk in terms of existing skill base (no offense intended). Throw in the health and safety nightmare minefield presented by the 30 Lords-a-Leaping everywhere and we’re going to have some problems right here, and probably several court cases involving spinal injuries. The Maids-a-Milking may prove useful, but I don’t really need one per cow. In fact, surely you’d be better off making the system automated anyway in the long term? Of course, now I have them I’m going to have to pay several thousands of pounds in legal fees to lay them off. And they’ve probably already joined a union. This could result in swift strike action and severe short-term lack of Maids-a-Milking. And this is assuming I get one cow for each Maid-a-Milking.

And don’t get me started on sending 42 Swans-a-Swimming. Sure they’d look majestic swimming around on water for a while, but swans are mean b*stards at the best of times. Expect all of the hissing… in fact, this little menagerie may give my 22 Pipers Piping and 12 Drummers Drumming a run for their money in terms of noise… after about five minutes of being chased, pecked and hissed at by angry, violent f*cking swans I’d be starting to question whether my “true love” had me best interests at heart. I mean seriously. imagine opening that box from day 7 onwards… “oh god… please, not more swans”. Just get it over with and send me a box of live grenades instead.


I’ll tell you what, true love, next time just send socks. It’s much easier for all parties involved. Granted, the song might get a bit repetitive though:

“On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, 10 pairs of socks, 9 pairs of socks, 8 pairs of socks, 7 pairs of socks, 6 pairs of socks… FIVE PAIRS OF SOCKS…” etc.

Though at least I could rest easy in the knowledge that I’d have enough socks for almost 1 pair a day for a year (that’s 364 pairs of socks for anyone who’s wondering).

Obviously this is intended as a bit of fun, not only to poke fun at the song but also my own profession and our general approach to life the universe and everything (believe it or not, I actually like Christmas, shock horror). If you’ve been affected by any of the issues presented in today’s post, write to “”. Alternatively, you can reach us by snail mail: just write your comment down on a piece of paper and post it in your nearest waste disposal bin. Worry not, it will reach me, you just have to wait. Especially if you sent it second class, Royal Mail are awful at this time of year.

Or, you know, you can just comment below…