By 1856 that the legislature realized that the holiday could not be stopped, gave in and made Christmas a legal holiday.

Illustrator Thomas Nast further elaborated the image of Santa Claus in the 1860s. He depicted a rotund Santa for Christmas issues of Harper's magazine that began to appear on January 3, 1863 with Santa delivering Christmas gifts to soldiers fighting in the Civil War. The illustration was called "Santa Claus in Camp". Over the years Nast added such details as Santa's workshop at the North Pole and Santa's list of the good and bad children of the world.

Early Christmas card designer Louis Prang developed his first card, a simple flower design with "Merry Christmas", in 1875. He began to include a red suited Santa in 1885, the card presented here was one he designed in 1886.

Nast drew his version of Santa Claus for 30 years and people envisioned Santa as leprechaun-like, or as a unique mixture of a gnome and a bishop. This depiction would last for almost 50 years, and then came the commercialization of the legend.