The Twelve Days of Christmas

This set of resources is all about the song ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’. Work out your own Christmas Price Index (the cost of all the gifts in the song) as calculated by the PNC every year, create a formula for how many gifts are received in the song by the nth day and even make an extra festive Christmas Price Index chart.

Equipment needed

Some activities involve students having access to the internet, and a computer to work on an excel spreadsheet. Making a festive chart will involve sparkly pipe cleaners, black card, metallic pens and glue/scissors.

Curriculum Topics Covered

‘How many gifts in the song’ activities: 

  • Key Stage 3 and above: Summing consecutive integers, triangular numbers, substitution. 
  • Key Stage 5: Using the formula for the sum of an arithmetic sequence, proof by induction, sum notation.

Christmas Price Index activities:

  • Researching prices of goods using the internet
  • Using formulae in a spreadsheet, percentage change, creating and analysing charts on Excel.

Materials to help prompt discussion about Consumer Price Index.

More information

In the zip folder are 3 subfolders. Below is a list of contents for each of the folders and more details about the different activities. 

Teacher Pack  The teacher Pack contains:

  • Teachers Notes and Solutions document 
  • Twelve Days of Christmas Lyric sheet
  • Christmas Price Index – Solutions for Historical Data activity 
  • Pipe Cleaner Festive XPI Chart – a photo of a chart made of pipe cleaners that uses historical Christmas Price Index (XPI) data.

Activity Resources

In this folder we’ve included activities themed around the question ‘how many presents are given in the song’ that allow younger students to explore topics such as triangular numbers, and give Key Stage 5 an opportunity to use their proof skills.

Worksheets included:

  • The Twelve Days of Christmas (aimed at Key Stage 3)
  • The True Twelve Days of Christmas (aimed at Key Stage 3) 
  • A Formula for Christmas (aimed at Key Stage 5) 

Solutions are in ‘Teacher Notes and Solutions’ in the Teacher Pack.

We have also included activities themed around the Christmas Price Index (XPI). Since 1984, US bank PNC Wealth Management has calculated the XPI, which is the cost of buying all the items mentioned in the song ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’. Activities see students estimating this year’s XPI by researching the price of goods, and involve them using a spreadsheet and their knowledge of percentage change to work with historical XPI data. Using the historical data students can go on to make a chart of the XPI since 1984. They could even make a festive version of this chart like ours (see Teacher Pack)! 

Worksheets and spreadsheets:

  • Estimate Christmas Price Index (aimed at upper Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 5)
  • Estimate True Cost of Christmas (aimed at upper Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 5)
  • Spreadsheet Activities (tabs 1 and 2) – this is the Excel spreadsheet version of the two worksheets above. 
  • Spreadsheet Activities (tab 3) – this is the exercise where students use percentage change and spreadsheet skills to work with Historical XPI data. 

Consumer Price Index Information The Christmas Price Index uses the same methodology as the Consumer Price Index so we have included some materials about this. The Consumer Price Index is a tool used to measure inflation by considering the price of a representative ‘basket’ of household goods and services. 

We’ve included a copy of the 2018 list of items included in the ‘basket’, and for future years this list can be obtained from the ONS website by visiting and locating the latest version. 

We’ve also included a document that just lists the broad categories of items.