The poem contains the following tropes:
- Adaptation Distillation: The poem crystallizes a number of ideas about St. Nicholas first found in Washington Irving's Knickerbocker History of New York.
- Big Fun: St. Nicholas has "a broad face, and a little round belly / That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly."
- Christmas Elves: St Nick himself is described as an 'elf' here, making this debatably the Ur-Example.
- Hollywood Darkness: Played with. "The moon on the crest of the newfallen snow / Gave a lustre of midday to objects below."
- Santa Claus: You were expecting maybe the Easter Bunny?
- Smoking Is Cool: "The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth / And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath." Of course, modern depictions of Santa don't usually smoke.
- Trope Codifier: As stated above, this little poem etched in stone a lot of the core image we have of Santa Claus.