Letters to Santa: Here’s what cute little kids in the 1930s asked Santa Claus to bring them for Christmas

What kids in the 1930s wanted for Christmas - Toys and games

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The tradition of writing letters to Santa has been around since the late 1800s, with young kids eagerly penning their Christmas wishes and sending them off to the North Pole in hopes of receiving a response from the jolly old man himself.

Over the years that followed, writing letters to Santa became more widespread, with children often sending their letters through the mail or dropping them off at department store Santas. Many parents would encourage their children to write down their Christmas wishes and explain why they had been good during the year — all in the hopes of receiving a response from Santa.

As the tradition of sending letters to Santa Claus grew in popularity, organizations such as the United States Postal Service began offering special services for letters to the man himself, including a personalized response from the North Pole and a special postmark.

This helped to further solidify the tradition of writing letters to Santa as a beloved part of the holiday season in the US. In fact, in 1989, the Clauses even got his own zip code!

Below, we found some sweet vintage letters to Santa that were published in the 1930s, as well as a collection of the toys children may have been asking for back in those days.

Vintage department store Christmas toys (1938)

Children’s letters to Santa from 1932

From the Santa Maria Daily Times (California) December 9, 1932

Dear Santa Claus: Please bring me a cowboy suit, baseball, a little automobile that I can drive and a telephone. I am a good boy. Hope you are having a good time with all the little boys and girls. Dickie Weldon

Dear Santa Claus: I want a doll dress and some doll shoes and a tiny football. Betty Anne Boothe

Dear Santa Claus: Please don’t forget and stop on Christmas Eve. I will leave our front door open. Santa, will you please bring me a train and a small flashlight and candy. Love and best wishes from a little friend. Leland Teixeira

Dear Santa: Will you please bring me a cowboy suit and some marbles. Please don’t forget my sisters and brothers. Goodbye Santa until next Christmas. Merry Christmas old dear. Your little friend. Melvin Teixeira

Dear Santa Claus: Please bring me and my brother a tool chest and I want a knife. Love from Duane Chapman

Dear Santa: Please send me a wagon, train and a bicycle for Christmas. L Brumana

Dear Santa Claus: Please bring me a pencil box and a sweater. Lots of love. Pauline Nielsen


Old-fashioned Christmas toy ideas from 1935

Old-fashioned Christmas toy ideas from 1935


What kids asked for in their letters to Santa back in 1936

From The Marshall News Messenger (Marshall, Texas) December 19, 1936

Dear Santa Claus: I am a little girl three years old. I have been a very good little girl for Christmas and I want you to bring me a doll, a Shirley Temple sweater and a big rubber dog that can bark. Please don’t forget my little cousin, Joy Marie. Bring her something nice, too. Your little girl, Effie G. Brewster.

Dear Santa Claus: I am a little boy three years old. Santa, I’ve been a very good boy this year. Will you please bring me a little red wagon, some carpenter tools, a little train and a drum, and Santa, don’t forget my pal, Bob. Bring him some bullets for our gun. And don’t forget to bring me some fruits, nuts and candy and fireworks. Your little boy, Ted Irvine, Jr.

MORE: How St Nicholas came to be the patron saint of children… and then Santa Claus (1891)

Dear Santa Claus: I am a little boy 2 years old. For Christmas I want you to bring me a little toy wagon, a sweater, cap and lots of fruit, nuts and candies. Please don’t forget my little playmate, Thelma Wilson. Bring her something nice, too. I am your little boy, Charles Ray Washington.

Dear Santa Claus: I am a little girl 3 years old. For Christmas please bring me a little toy rubber dog, a big doll that can say mama and a Shirley Temple sweater. Don’t forget my little playmate, Effie G. Bring her something nice, too. I am your little girl, Joy Marie Washington.

What kids might ask for in their letters to Santa: Antique toys for kids from 1933
Some of the toys kids might have asked for in their letters to Santa back in the 1930s

Dear Santa Claus: I am a little girl eight years old. I am in the third grade. I go to Mt. Pleasant school. Please bring me a wagon car and a harp. And some apples, candy, nuts and a watch., Please don’t forget my little brother and sister, Sam, Jr., and Bernice. I am Katherine Bishop.

Dear Santa Claus: I am a little girl 10 years old. I go to school every day. I am in the fifth grade. Please bring me a doll, apples, candy and some nuts and don’t forget mother and father. I am Mary Lee Bishop.

ALSO SEE: These 25 vintage tricycles were a pretty thrilling mode of transportation for generations of toddlers

Dear Santa Claus: I am a little girl five years old and I have been pretty good this year. For Christmas I want you to bring me a doll, a set of dishes, a pair of shoes, a sweater and a skirt. Bring my mother and daddy something nice and do not forget the unfortunate girls and boys.

I want you to bring my little rabbit a bunch of carrots and bring me some fruits, nuts and candy. Your little girl, Odie Mae Jones. P.S. Bring my big sister something nice, too, and also my teacher, Miss Bonne.

Dear Santa: I’ve tried to be very so will you bring me a big fire truck that has real lights and bell on it, a big dolly that goes to sleep, lots of doll clothes, a bath robe, lots of fireworks and please don’t forget to go to see all the poor little boys and girls. Your Little Girl, Jo Ann Bartschmid. P. S. Please don’t forget my cousin, Helena, and all my aunts, and uncles.

Dear Santa Claus: Please bring me the things I need to play with and to wear. Please bring me some candy, fruit, nuts. I love you very much.- Donald McMahon. P.S. I want a football suit and a football and a gun and scabbard. I love you very much.

Vintage Daisy air rifles for kids from 1935
Vintage Daisy air rifles for kids from 1935

What kids in the 1930s wanted for Christmas - Dear Santa Claus... letters to Santa

Letters to Santa from 1930

The Times (Streator, Illinois) Wednesday, December 24, 1930

Dear Santa Claus: I have been a good boy and I want you to bring me a tractor and some building blocks. My little brother Virgil wants a little red truck and a telephone, so be sure and stop at our house. I will leave a glass of milk on the table for you. Your little friend, Hobby Verdun, Odell, Ill.

Dear Santa Claus: I am a little girl six years. I don’t care If you don’t bring me any toys this year, so many little boys and girls will not get anything. Please bring me a few pieces of candy and some nuts and an orange to put in my stocking. Your little friend, Norma Mac Hill

Dear Santa: I am a little girl six years old and live southeast of Streator. For Christmas, I would like to have a doll, buggy and a blackboard. My sister Gertrude, who is eight years old, wants a doll buggy, doll blanket and a game. We also want candy, nuts and fruit. Wishing you a merry Christmas. Edith Tabb Sullivan

Dear Santa Claus: My age is 6 years old. For Christmas, I want a doll and doll buggy, dishes, chairs and table. My sister who is 4 wants the same as I do. My brother who is 2 wants a train, rocking horse, an airplane and blocks. Don’t forget the poor children. Your friends, Catherine, Bernice and Frank Jones

Baby toys and dolls from the 1930s

Dear Santa Claus: I would like to have a train and truck and a gun. Your little friend, Bobby Strauck

Dear Santa Claus: I am writing to you to let you know what I want for Christmas. I want a pair of little red top boots and a bee bee gun to shoot rabbits with, and a train. I’ll leave a lunch on the table for you. Please don’t forget me. Your little friend, Johnny Werner

Lionel Train sets from 1931
Lionel Train sets from 1931 – See more Lionel railroad sets here!

Dear Santa: I have a little cousin. His name Is Lawrence Pastrik. He is a year and a half old. So I am writing the letter for him. Please bring him a little red wagon, a Christmas tree. Come in the front door. But when you come be sure to stay for this is the first time he will see you. With love, Ralph Petro

Dear Santa Claus: I am a little boy 7 years old and I am in the second grade. Please Santa bring me a drum, harmonica, a little car that winds up, and some story books and some new clothes.

My sister Helen wants a baby doll, dishes, broom, doll clothes, story books and some new clothes. My baby brother Donnie wants a boy doll and a kiddy car.

We also want some candy, nuts and oranges. And don’t forget my cousins in Chicago, Jean and Maxine Davidson. We will leave a lunch for you. From your pal, Billy Martin, Jr.

ALSO SEE: Photos with Santa from decades ago don’t really look all that different

Antique doll from the 1930s


Christmas gifts for children: New toys – Characters in comics & movies prominent (1936)

From the Des Moines Tribune (Iowa) December 01, 1936

What to buy the children for Christmas? This story deals with possibilities for children’s gifts — to supplement Santa Claus‘ supply of course.

Oh, to be a child again! And Christmas 20 shopping days ahead! Stores are filled with gifts for children with prices ranging from 10 cents to $10 — and up.

1930s girl playing with a pretend ironing board

Dolls & games

First of all, those characters whom children have come to know in comics, motion pictures and current news are getting heavy play.

You’ll find Henry, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, the Dionne quintuplets, Shirley Temple, Popeye and Dick Tracy.

In dolls, games, sewing kits, and mechanical toys, the characters cavort on Des Moines counters. There are myriad toys for combining education with play. For instance, kits for glass-blowing, metal casting, micro-chemistry, fingerprinting, mechanical construction in metal and in wood.

There are “logs” for building cabins like Lincoln’s; there are miniature telegraphy sets and mineralogy sets — and most of them probably will keep parents interested as much as children.

The tin soldier retains his high place, despite actions of peace groups to eliminate him from child acquaintance. Cardboard, wood and rags augment the tin in the construction of colorful soldiers.

Old-fashioned Christmas toys for kids from 1938
Old-fashioned Christmas toys for kids from 1938 – Toys shown: The Yearling Fawn, Evelyn Reed. Candle Santa Claus, Gerard. White Rabbit, Party Mart. Susie-Q dolls, picnic basket, small music boxes, bear in kilts, boat, F. A. O. Schwarz. Barrel organ, springy white cotton and red felt Santos, Wanamaker. Work books, Elizabeth Pusey. Stamp album and Naturecraft outfits, Abercrombie and Fitch.

Locomotives

For 20 cents, a little set of wooden pieces can be assembled into a locomotive of 1831 or 1937. Boy stuff! But 20 cents also buys tiny sewing sets, kitchen utensils, or quintuplet dolls, blond or brunet.

Comes the medical instinct — With a “country doctor” kit of stethoscope and harmless pink pills, with cheap or expensive sets.

Is the child interested in music? Don’t worry. Miles ahead of the old tin horn and toy drum come, for instance, Bob Burns’ bazookas. xylophones, grand pianos. and saxophones.

In a dime store a group of adults — no room for children — clung about a stem-wind mechanical crawling baby — and a very cute crawling baby it was. Costs a quarter.

Wheeled toys - Bicycles and tricycles from the 1930s

There are unpainted miniature furniture sets with a box of colors to “paint your own furniture.”

Progress! For less than $4 there’s a sound picture production set — a “movie” thrown on a tiny screen with speaking cartoon characters in action.

Toys in miniature

The busy little homebodies will have toy washing machines and ironers. In fact, almost anything an adult has these days is provided in miniature for children.

A bowling set, kind to mothers, has a device so the pins do not scatter. The ball is rubber, the size of a grapefruit. Marble and pin machine games which the city police have been picking up in Des Moines stores these days are offered in miniature for children.

Kids in the 1930s playing on toy telephones

“Whiteboards”

The familiar old blackboard is still offered — but there’s also a “whiteboard” which takes colored crayons and spurs the artistic tendencies. It’s new this year.

Streamline trains (all lines represented) and old-style locomotives with additional types of cars whisk around tracks and differ in price range from little to plenty.

The larger toys — red wagons, tricycles, and bears to straddle and ride are numerous — as are the practical business of small usable furniture, desks and tables.

MORE: See these vintage American Flyer railroads: Classic train toys kids loved

Dolls that drink

Dolls? Oh, yes, thousands upon thousands! Dolls with real yarn or painted hair. Dolls with fixed or movable eyes. Dolls that cry and, believe it or not, dolls that drink — from a bottle.

There are practical gifts galore. Mittens in many colors — and warm ones. Tricky caps knitted caps, and uniform caps. Snappy sweaters and snow suits — anything from teething rings to a wide variety of children’s books — books with a wider range of subject matter than in any previous year.

Oh, to be a child again — with Christmas almost in sight.


Old-fashioned games for kids from 1938

These three games are guaranteed to raise young temperatures to the boiling point. They are: Peg Chow, or Chinese checkers, Sky Scraper, and That’s Me. They are made by Parker Brothers. From F. A. O. Schwarz.

SEE MORE: Popular vintage board games from the 30s & 40s

Old-fashioned games for kids from 1938


Buck Rogers 25th Century toys (Dec 1934)

Buck Rogers 25th Century toys - Boys' Life Dec 1934

NOW SEE THIS: 100 vintage Christmas scenes so sweet and old-fashioned, you’ll wish you had a time machine

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Comments on this story

One Response

  1. What a great article! I loved reading the sweet letters from children and what they wanted Santa to bring. I remember my parents (children in the 30’s) talk about receiving oranges and nuts for Christmas.

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