Christmas trees in the early 19th century were adorned with, for example, cookies, fruits, nuts, and cones. Born in Germany, Santa candy containers were given as gifts but were often used as tree or table decorations after the candy was gone (source: Kovel's On Antiques And Collectibles).
Image 1 shows an 1890 German Belsnickel candy container with rabbit fur beard. He carries a brown basket on his back. Image courtesy of Grossmutters Christmas Past (http://www.christmas.li/)