Game of the Visit of Santa Claus. McLoughlin Brothers, 1901. The Strong National Museum of Play, Online Collections.
The Victorians' love affair with Santa Claus started with Clement Moore's poem, “An Account of a Visit From Saint Nicholas,” published in 1823. But it wasn't until Thomas Nast, a German immigrant and illustrator, created the iconic version of Saint Nick as a jolly, bearded fat man in a red suit that Santa really took off. In fact, the Victorians created a number of Santa-themed games.
According to Slate, these games were easy enough to play that even younger family members could participate: "In the 'Game of the Visit of Santa Claus,' for example, a game of chance, players used a spinner to race each other to the finish and collect 'gift' cards along the way."
Christmas games weren't just for Santa, either, as shown by the goose-themed race game below.
The Game of Merry Christmas Goose Chase. McLoughlin Brothers, 1901. The Strong National Museum of Play, Online Collections.
Head on over to Slate to see a few more examples of Victorian Christmas games centered around Santa.