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While Santa has slave labour the elves to make the toys, the toys have to be made from source materials, most of which may not be available on the North Pole.

So how does Santa actually afford the raw materials required to make the toys?

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  • $\begingroup$ Maybe it is Santa's best kept secret? Santa does have a lot of secrets $\endgroup$ Dec 27, 2015 at 12:42
  • $\begingroup$ May I know what year because nowadays people engage contracts manufacturers so the useless elves could be retrained as a tool of diplomacy on a 10 year loan at the local zoo $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Dec 26, 2023 at 7:21
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    $\begingroup$ I'm deeply sorry @Quill, apparently the rule is now to close questions as story based when "it doesn't result in a "rule" that is consistently true in all story circumstances" (ref. : 1), or when it comes to "overcoming writer's block", which your question lacks both (do you want your supposedly magic santa to have the materials? Do you want to give him the opportunities, contacts and resources?). So I have to close it even if I strongly disagree with it. $\endgroup$ Dec 26, 2023 at 8:49
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not going to VTC because Christmas, but this question asks for a rational explanation to a magical effect. You could answer "focused white holes" or "nanoassembly" or "Santa is at the top of every cartel in the world" and have all of them equally valid. Thus, opinion based. However, I may be a curmudgeon, but I'm not Scrooge. :) $\endgroup$ Dec 26, 2023 at 18:48

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Santa is hundreds of years old (at least), is our world's first and therefore greatest expert on the delivery of items to people's houses, and he only works at his official gig for one day per year.

In his free time, he has parleyed that time and expertise, creating several commercial ventures which he secretly owns majority stakes in. Those ventures include... Fedex, UPS, and DHL.

Santa is a secret Billionaire!

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While Santa and the elves are overtly out and about during December and especially on Christmas, Santa's elves are collecting materials all the time.

That sock you lost to the dryer that you can't find ... the Lego that disappeared under the couch never to be seen again ... the quarters lost in the couch ... all those balloons released into the air.

Well, you get the idea. All those little lost things end up in the North Pole where they are repurposed into the toys that you know. It's shaving off a little bit form everywhere in the world where it would not be missed.

For the wood and other things in nature, well us humans aren't everywhere at every time. A stealthy foray into the untamed wilds of the world to forage for wood and sinews leads to a bounty of nature and the occasional stew for dinner. There's millions of acres of unobserved woods out there and a little bit from everywhere can also net quite a bounty.

Then there's the money. There's money in being Santa -- Licensing rights, guest appearances, trademarks, reindeer breeding. All of it capable of bringing in a lot of income, either actively and passively. Remember those Santa ads by Coca-Cola? Santa make bank on them let me tell you. Plus, it revitalized the Santa Brand for a while new century.

For those things Santa can't make, he buys with the aforementioned money from his brand. He dodges international shipping fees by having places in each country where those goods are dropped off before the elves move it to The Workshop. How they get materials from point A to the North Pole is a secret that couriers would love to get their hands on. But Santa isn't telling and the elves have evaded capture as of yet.

As for the depots: To name two locations based on knowledge/research

  • His Canada depot is near Montreal, QC
  • His US depot is in Anchorage, AK
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We only know about the elves, but maybe Santa rules also on other fantasy races

We know that the elves do all the manufacturing job, but they are not the only Santa's little helpers.
Unbeknownst to many, Santa can also rely on the help of the dwarves, who live underground (far deeper than human mines) and extract all of the metals and rare minerals that are needed to make the toys. They also run underground facilities to process and refine raw materials, so that elves are already provided with aluminium, plastics and rare earths.

Obviously we know that the North Pole is a floating ice platform, so it is not directly connected to the North Pole toy factories, but the shipping is not a problem. Santa can use his sled during the rest of the year to collect the materials from the mines, and about the logistic, only 4 words are necessary: dwarf on the wharf.

The only main material that dwarves cannot provide is wood (to make collectible card games, since I suspect that nowadays there are very few letters asking for wooden toys...). In this case, the shamanic powers of the elves allow to grow trees in a matter of days, so that even this material is not a problem

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Licensing fees

You don't think all those Santa images are public domain? They're his likeness.

Santa Claus licenses his image and then uses the money.

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  • $\begingroup$ That a team of expensive lawyers who make a black mambas look 'warm and cuddly'. $\endgroup$
    – Mon
    Jan 2 at 1:57
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He doesn't bring them to the North Pole

It used to be that Santa and the elves themselves made toys for children, having Finland as industrial center. However, ever since the industrial revolution, he figured it's much cheaper to outsource the production to other countries - in terms of production chains, as well as labour costs. Which is why in the past few decades so many toys had "made in Taiwan" written on them, and nowadays it's mostly "made in China".

The North pole is still his headquarter for tax reasons, and some elves still have white-collar jobs there. But don't expect to find any factories still operating in the Arctic.

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Illegally obtained

Santa Claus delivers all presents in a single night all over the world¹. He flies in his sled, going from adres to adres to deliver the presents. The rich get more than the poor.

From this we can glean an important gem of information. There is not a single flight plan of Santa found in the world. It is very unlikely that every government in the world would keep these movements a secret, nor would allow him to move through their airspace. Occams razor than dictates the simplest of reasons why. He doesn't file any flight plan anywhere in the world, flying illegally in the airspace of each and every country he moves through.

That bids the question, why stop there? Private transactions might be more difficult to track than flight records/plans, but at the quantities that Santa needs resources it'll be next to impossible to hide it.

That means he has a single big way of gathering the resources/finished toys.

1He steals them. There's items missing here and there all over the world. With the ability to fly anywhere over the world and access any house or even military bases all over the world, he seems to be unstoppable. It rarely matters if its too small to notice or a big batch, as he's never actually been filmed or photographed. That makes linking him to any crime impossible.

¹sort of

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Probability swapping

In another part of the quantum multiverse, there is a world where nanomachines have gone insane and perpetually attempt to convert the entire planet into toys. Santa is a dimension hopping do-gooder and, once per year, transfers a set of the excess gifts from the other world directly into the homes of worthy children in ours.

Sometimes, due to the probabilistic instability caused by the chaos naughty children, the toys don't quite make it, but some of the nanobots do! Fortunately, the nanobots can't work without broadcast power from the Master Controller, so they just congeal into what is indistinguishable to us from a lump of coal.

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