Share on Facebook

A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

8 Vintage Christmas Ads from the Past 90 Years

Though St. Nick appeared in ads as early as 1840, it wasn’t until after 1863, when cartoonist Thomas Nast created the now-familiar figure in a red suit and white beard, that Santa became the holiday season’s most popular pitchman.

1 / 10
Santa Claus Desk Reading Wish List With Ornament And Christmas GiftRomolo Tavani/Shutterstock

Christmas through the years

If it seems like Christmas is more commercialized than ever, here are some old (and, in some cases, we mean old) Santa-themed ads that prove that, for better or worse, Christmas has been a major commercial holiday for as long as living people can remember. However you feel about that, you gotta admit, these vintage Christmas ads are charming. And, hey, at least Santa doesn’t smoke anymore! Some things never change, though, including the fact that kids are adorable at Christmastime. Just take a look at these precious letters to Santa from nearly 100 years ago.

2 / 10
Up on the rooftopReminisce

Up on the rooftop

This ad first appeared in Country Life in 1920. Santa had been a Murad favorite from before WWI. Check out these vintage Christmas decorations that might be worth money today.

3 / 10
A bubbly ChristmasReminisce

A bubbly Christmas

National Geographic, 1954: Coca-Cola Co.’s red-faced, jolly Santa was conceived by illustrator Haddon Sundblom.

4 / 10
Presents are a lifesaverReminisce

Presents are a life saver

Better Homes & Gardens, 1972: Santa pitches the Life Savers Sweet Story Book as a last-minute “life saver.” Take a look at these photos showing what Christmas used to look like back in the day. If the presents Santa brings aren’t enough fun for the whole family, try playing these Christmas games. 

5 / 10
A red Christmas Reminisce

A red Christmas

Family Circle, 1962: Santa endorses everyone’s favorite condiment—long before Del Monte conceded to calling it ketchup in the ’80s. He certainly matches, color-wise.

6 / 10
Sparkling bubblesReminisce

Sparkling bubbles

Family Circle, 1962: Colgate’s Soaky Santa bath suds was a popular stocking stuffer. Throw Christmas back in time by making your own decorations and garlands. 

7 / 10
Studio SantaReminisce

Studios Santa

Reader’s Digest, 1966: Santa gets glasses. While we’re on the subject of Christmas history, find out where 10 of your favorite Christmas traditions came from.

8 / 10
Santa sellsReminisce

Santa sells

Reminisce, 1950: Even Santa was used to sell cigarettes back in the ’50s. Check out more rare, vintage photos of what life was like in the ’50s.

9 / 10
Singer SantaReminisce

Singer Santa

Family Circle, 1962: Santa is looking over letters from kids asking for a new sewing machine for their mother. These adorable vintage photos of kids meeting Santa will melt your heart.

10 / 10
Reminisce CoverReminisce

Celebrate the Best Times of Your Life!

Subscribe to the print edition of Reminisce and instantly enjoy free digital access anytime, anywhere. Next, get a look at these old-timey photos showing what Christmas was like the year you were born.

Originally Published in Reminisce