WSJ Contest — Friday, December 22, 2023

Grid: untimed; Meta: 5 minutes  


Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Gift List” — Conrad’s writeup.

The Twelve Days of Christmas - By Xavier Romero-Frias

The Twelve Days of Christmas – By Xavier Romero-Frias

Feliz Navidad from Santiago Chile! I am spending the holidays here with my family. The Christmas Day weather outside is going to be a frightful 91 degrees Fahrenheit (33 degrees Celsius). We can see snow in the Andes mountains, so we’re technically enjoying a white Christmas.

This week we’re looking for a three-word title. I spotted step one immediately when I saw the clue for 1a (DEY): “Susan who played Laurie Partridge.” As in: a partridge in a pair tree. On the first day of Christmas Mike gave us a Twelve Days of Christmas-themed meta. Here are the twelve presents, in horizontal grid order:

WSJ Contest Solution – 12.24.23

WSJ Contest Solution – 12.24.23

  1. DEY: Susan who played Laurie Partridge (in a pear tree)
  2. EGGS: Future hawks or (Two turtle) doves
  3. CHICKENCOOP: Home for (Three French) hens
  4. KIWIS: New Zealand (Four calling) birds
  5. TORI: Mathematical (Five golden) rings
  6. HONKS: Sounds from (Six) geese (a-laying)
  7. ESSES: Silhouettes of (Seven) swans (a-swimming)
  8. HELP: Butlers and (Eight) maids (a-milking)
  9. ALTOS: Low-voiced (Nine) ladies (dancing)
  10. LIEGE: Feudal (Ten) lords (a-leaping)
  11. LIGHTPLANES: Some (Eleven) pipers (piping)
  12. STOOLS: Perches for (Twelve) drummers (drumming)

The mapped entries spell our contest solution DECK THE HALLS. Happy Holidays, everyone! Solvers: please share your thoughts.

Attribution for the Twelve Days of Christmas Image shown above: By Xavier Romero-Frias – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.

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11 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, December 22, 2023

  1. Eric H. says:

    I’m not sure now which answer keyed me in to “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” but I saw it pretty quickly.

    I somehow had the idea that the prompt said to look for a three-letter word, and I missed the five gold rings in my initial markup of the grid, so I thought for a bit that the answer was a three-letter word for the missing gift. But once I reread the prompt, I saw what I’d missed. All told, it took about five or 10 minutes.

    I’m particularly impressed that the gifts are in numerical order. Fun meta!

  2. John+F.+Ervin says:

    Wow! Of course I missed it as usual, but upon seeing the solve, I am also impressed.Very clever and in retrospect, getable.

  3. JC says:

    I had a feeling I had seen this before.

  4. Uncle Bob says:

    The SE corner often provides a big hint, and this was no exception with 51D.

  5. Mary K. says:

    Thank you, Conrad for your excellent summary. This was a very enjoyable meta. I was happy that it was a quick solve for this busy time of year.
    Merry Christmas to all!

  6. Simon says:

    I got it with Yule as well. Thank goodness there are 12 days of Christmas (at least in my family) because it allows me extra time to get all those gifts I need to find. And Thanks to Santa Shenk for this one.

  7. Garrett says:

    Well, I totally got this, and I could even hear the song in my head, but the title is Twelve Days of Christmas and that ain’t a three word title. !?

  8. Jeff says:

    The theme led to a rabbit hole with the 24 esses along with an ESSES clue. Fortunately, it didn’t take long to find the correct path.

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