The True Cost of “Santa Baby”
by Kelsey Wallace
The Christmas season is upon us, which means everywhere we go for the next two weeks, we’ll be greeted by a familiar sound: a grown-ass adult using a cloying baby voice to ask Santa for a ludicrous number of gifts.
“Santa Baby,” written by Joan Javits and Philip Springer in 1953, is a Christmas novelty song about a sexy singer (usually a woman but not always) with a whopping Christmas list. One of only a handful of hit Christmas songs written by women, it was made famous by Eartha Kitt but just about everyone with the holiday spirit — from Madonna to Miss Piggy, Taylor Swift to Kylie Minogue, and Calista Flockhart to Michael Bublé (who reworked it as “Santa Buddy”) — has recorded a version. Just this year it was performed by Maria Menounos in a “Christmas party sex trap” on The Mindy Project and recorded by pop star Ariana Grande for the Nickelodeon set. Like Kay Jeweler ads and humblebraggy Christmas letters from your cousin, “Santa Baby” is an American yuletide institution.
But why does the song endure? It routinely tops “Worst Christmas Songs Ever” lists and it sexualizes one of the least-sexy relationships out there: the one between Santa Claus and the kids who write him letters. It infantilizes the person singing it — no matter who it is — and turns them into a gold-digging creep. Why also, you may ask, is an adult even allowed to ask Santa for gifts? And when the singer asks him to “hurry down the chimney,” does that mean what it sounds like it means? (Yes.)
“Santa Baby” is bizarre on many levels, not least of which is the unbelievable amount of stuff Santa is asked to deliver. Furs? Platinum? Tiffany ornaments? How much money does Ol’ St. Nick need to obtain all of these gifts and ensure some “chimney hurrying”?
We may never know what makes “Santa Baby” stick, but we can figure out what it costs. Here, in list order, is everything requested of Santa, complete with price tag:
“Slip a sable under the tree”
I went with the first sable fur coat I found on Google shopping. It is a Manzoni 24 and it retails for $77,542.33
“A ’54 convertible, too, light blue”
According to Eartha Kitt’s failed follow-up song, “This Year’s Santa Baby,” the convertible in question is a Cadillac. I was only able to find this 1954 62 series is light green, but I’m sure Santa could track it down in blue: $84,900
“I want a yacht and, really, that’s not a lot”
We can assume a yacht built in 1953, since that’s when the list was originally written. This one has its very own saloon: $2,604,710
“One little thing I really do need… The deed… to a platinum mine”
It was hard to find platinum mines for sale, so I went with the cost of building a new mine in South Africa in 2012 and converted the price to US dollars. This is the biggest ticket item on the list, but I hear platinum is a great investment: $1,157,775,912.47
“Fill my stocking with a duplex”
Songwriter Joan Javits worked for ASCAP publishing in New York, so she was likely thinking of a Manhattan duplex. I don’t live in New York, but this one looks charming: $6,750,000
Considering the cost of the other items on this list, the sky’s the limit on the amount of these “checks.” The mortgage on the duplex is estimated at $26,587/month, so let’s go with what it would cost to live there for one year (you’d still need to furnish the place, but that’s where the platinum mine comes in): $319,044
“Come and trim my Christmas tree with some decorations bought at Tiffany”
This one is tricky because trees vary in size, but the Internet says an average Christmas tree is 7.5 feet high, and this Christmas Decoration Calculator estimates 171 ornaments to decorate it properly. On average, a Tiffany Christmas ornament is $74.44, and we will need 171 of those: $12,730
“Forgot to mention one little thing… A ring”
The ring in question is most likely platinum and, judging by the collective taste here, from Tiffany. An eBay search turned up this one (pre-owned to save Santa some cash!), which is 4.42 carats: $230,000
Grand total: $1,167,854,838.80
As a point of reference, that puts “Santa Baby” at 171 on the list of countries by GDP, between the Gambia and Liberia. Seems reasonable. Merry Christmas!
Kelsey Wallace is an editor in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter if you like TV and pictures of dogs.