Where to Find Your 12 Days of Christmas in Massachusetts


To buy all the items from the “12 days of Christmas’’ song would cost you $27,673 this year, according to a Christmas Price Index.

That is quite a gift giving budget. In all seriousness, who actually wants those gifts under their tree? You’d have 23 birds in your house. That’s not ideal.

Though this menagerie may not be exactly what composer Fredric Austin had in mind, a safer bet would be to capture the spirit of the 12 days of Christmas in Boston style—without all the mess. Here are 12 replacement items and events you can find in Massachusetts. You’ll maintain the Christmas spirit of the song, save a lot of money, and keep those birds out of your life.


12 Drummers Drumming

According to a price quote from the online booking platform GigSalad, booking one drummer to perform for one hour on Christmas Day around noon costs about $200. Or you could buy your tickets now for the 75th Anniversary Gala of the Boston Crusaders Drum & Bugle Corps. Everyone attending the gala will enjoy a banquet dinner followed by the return of live drum corps to Gillette Stadium for the first time in a decade on July 2. Tickets are $125 per person.

New England has plenty of bagpipers. This is the Catamount Pipe Band from Montpelier, Vt. playing in Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. —Steven Senne/AP

11 Pipers Piping

For your own private events, you can hire this “Mass Bagpiper,’’ who has played at everything from weddings to funerals to bachelor parties to clambakes, and even political campaign marches.

Olivia Newton-John and the Chippendales ceremoniously light the world’s tallest observation wheel, the High Roller, pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. —Steve Spatafore/AP

10 Lords A-Leaping

The male dance troupe Chippendales — known for its stripteases and characteristic bow-tie and bare bodies uniform — will be stopping by Brighton Music Hall on January 24 for two evening shows. Tickets are between $35 and $75, depending on how up close and personal you’re aiming for. Are they actual lords? If this event appeals to you, who cares?

If a striptease isn’t on your wishlist for this holiday season, the book “Ten Lords A Leaping: A Father Christmas Mystery’’ is available on Amazon for under $20.

Ballerinas perform during Boston Ballet’s dress rehearsal for “The Nutcracker” at the Boston Opera House.Jessica Rinaldi/Boston Globe


9 Ladies Dancing

You could hire a dance troupe, or you could check out the Boston Ballet’s classic Nutcracker production, running from November 28 through December 31. Tickets range from $50 to $150 on Stubhub. If raunchy and racy is more your speed, but you don’t want to compromise on holiday-themed fun, check out the less family-friendly Slutcracker at the Somerville Theater for $27, complete with whips and strippers. Ooh la la.

About 32 percent of Massachusetts farms boast female principal operators. —iStockphoto.com

8 Maids A-Milking

According to data from the USDA’s most recent agricultural census, 2,507 farms in Massachusetts boast female principle operators, about 32 percent of all farms. A milking “maid’’ shouldn’t be hard to come by, but probably don’t label these hard-working women “maids.’’

You could also visit the Franklin Park Zoo’s Randall Cattle, or the many yaks at the Stone Zoo. According to Zoo officials, winter is actually a great time to visit because the zoo is much quieter: you’ll have views of the animals all to yourself. If you need a place to warm up, the Tropical Forest is kept at a balmy 72 degrees all year. Adult admission is $17.95.

The Boston Public Garden Swan Boats were wearing sashes in honor of Women’s Equality Day in August 2014.Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe

7 Swans A-Swimming

Boston is known for their “swans a swimming’’ with it’s Swan Boat rides! It’s a romantic mini cruise for people on a budget. Fare is $3 per person. The only downfall is you’ll have to wait until April for their 2015 season to begin! And real live swans Romeo and Juliet still reside at the Franklin Park Zooover the winter, though they are not on exhibit for the season.


So if you want to see some “polar bears’’ swimming instead, head to L Street Bathhouse at Curley Community Center in South Boston on Wednesday, January 1st to see the L Street Brownies plunge into the icy waters of Dorchester Bay. They may not be as graceful as swans, but they are spirited and raising money for several charities.

A student at the Kennedy School of Government photographed geese walking along the Charles River in Cambridge.Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe

6 Geese A-Laying

Go to any of Boston’s parks and commons, and you’ll probably see far more than six geese, and step in far more than six geese’s worth of poop. Or take a walk (or Hubway, available at select locations in Cambridge and Boston) along the Charles River, where the geese haven’t much migrated for the winter. The best part of your winter walk is that it’s free!

Onlookers at the SoWa Vintage Market

5 Golden Rings

Jewelry and crafts can also be found at the 11th annual Sowa Holiday Markets on the weekend of December 13 and 14 at the historic main building of the Benjamin Franklin Institute in Boston’s South End. Admission is $5.

chocolate yeasted. #homework.

A photo posted by Blackbird Doughnuts (@blackbirddoughnuts) on

4 Calling (Colly) Birds

Calling birds are actually the americanized version to our beloved Christmas carol. A colly bird, in the song’s original lyrics, is actually a blackbird. Instead of giving four blackbirds this holiday season, maybe opt for four donuts from Blackbird Donuts opening this January on Tremont Street in Boston. The shop will be owned by local favorite restaurant, The Gallows. They’ve already created an instragram account for their new shop, posting drool-worthy pictures of donut creations in the pipeline.

3 French Hens

The striking Faverolles Hen is now bred for show. Meet the French hens yourself at the Boston Hill Farm Petting Zoo. While you’re there treat yourself to a freshly baked pastry or cider donut. Richardson’s ice cream is also sold at the store! Admission into the farm is free.

2 Turtle Doves

The Boston Doves was beantown’s baseball team during the first decade of the 20th century, when the team’s nickname was in constant flux (before settling on “The Braves’’ in 1912). Learn more about the history of the Doves and all of Boston’s sporting teams by paying a visit to the Sports Museum inside TD Garden. Admission is $12 for adults, $6 for students and seniors.

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

The Trustees of Reservations in New Bedford will cherish the first day of Christmas by lighting the pear tree located along side the historic Hathaway home at the Allen C. Haskell Public Gardens on December 19 at 5p.m.. This year’s celebration will honor of the late Allen C. Haskell. After the lighting, warm up with some hot chocolate and enjoy the beautiful grounds.

Participating in this Boston version of the 12 Days of Christmas will cost you under $600—defintely more affordable and enjoyable then the original tune’s gifts. Tell your true love they can skip the birds this year.

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