Records and documents exist that confirm the Santa tradition had been done by Claus family men long before Stephen, but no records exist to clarify their names and identities, where the tradition came from, or even when the Claus family began following the role of Santa. Still, some elf historians consider Stephen the first true Santa since all prior Santas merely delivered plates of cakes and cookies to nearby homes. They were essentially gift basket people.
Stephen followed the philosophy that each Christmas should be greater than the last, which eventually led to him delivering customized gifts to people based on their behavior (which was much easier to do back then since only one town was visited by Santa). In his time as Santa, Stephen began almost every tradition commonly associated with Santa and began a legacy that would continue with his immediate predecessors.
Not everything was the same though. Even after changing his system, Stephen still used sweets and snacks as his default gift (half the gift was also the plates they came in since pottery was a pretty handy skill back then as well), and he’d leave gifts by windowsills despite no longer having to worry about pies and such. He also ran into doors with familiar wood patterns. I don’t know what wood that is, but they almost always have a name.