Do you have $78,100 on hand? That's what it would cost this year to purchase the "12 days of Christmas" gifts mentioned in the popular carol. Buying just one of each item listed would still cost a pretty penny: $19,507. (OK, a lot of pretty pennies.)

That's according to PNC Wealth Management, which released this data in its annual PNC Christmas Price Index. Humorous as it might be, the list makes an excellent example of rising costs. PNC's index has risen 3.1% this year, no doubt reflecting increasingly rough-looking macroeconomic conditions. This might be a good time to ask the tough questions: "Does my true love really need seven swans a-swimming?" ($4,200!)

Five gold rings will set you back $395, versus $325 last year; that's no surprise, since gold's been rising amid the market's bearishness. And anybody's who's noticed how the rising costs of dairy and pay raises for workers have affected Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) probably isn't shocked that eight maids a-milking command 15% more than last year.

The partridge still goes for $15, but the pear tree it's perched in is 15% more, at $130. (Call the pear tree an investment, since if you plant it, it will be there for many partridges -- and Christmases, and pears -- to come.) On the other hand, I wonder whether PetSmart (NASDAQ:PETM) has seen a run on calling birds since last year -- four canaries are now 25% more dear, at $600.  

This Christmas Price Index may get us in the spirit, but I'm not sure that $78,000 worth of swans-a-swimming and such would really make anybody's day -- especially if you charged it all to high-interest credit cards. Most people would probably be happy with a bauble from Tiffany (NYSE:TIF), or maybe a flat-screen TV from Best Buy (NYSE:BBY). And of course, heartfelt but modestly priced gifts can really mean a lot to people, too. There's never harm in doing price comparisons at Blue Nile (NASDAQ:NILE) or Target (NYSE:TGT). Just be prepared to get funny looks if you ask where they keep the turtledoves.

For some people, 'tis the season to blow the budget. But this year, the holidays are probably a better time to think about getting your financial house in order in 2008. That's what Motley Fool Green Light is all about -- living below your means and achieving financial peace of mind. Our November issue alone contains tips that could save you $2,250.

Now, I'm not convinced that Green Light co-editors Robert Brokamp and Dayana Yochim would condone splurging on those $2,213 worth of pipers piping. But if you've already paid those pipers, they've probably got a few tips for whittling down the resulting debt as fast as possible.

Further festive Foolishness: