After the original airing of the episode, Seth MacFarlane wrote on Twitter that the idea of killing off Brian and bringing him back was a lesson in never taking our loved ones for granted. He also thanked the fans for supporting Brian's return from the dead.
Stewie's perpetual age of one is made into a meta-joke when Lois notes that it's his first Christmas, to which Stewie asks "Again?"
The Mall Santa is able to understand Stewie while the Griffins' ability to understand him still lays in question.
The Rankin/Bass special The Year Without a Santa Claus is parodied in title as The Year Without a Santa Claus or Sex.
A version of Home Alone is shown with competent burglars.
The Asian waiters from A Christmas Story make an appearance in the Quahog Mall.
The DVD commentary for "Life of Brian" notes that some people attributed the outpouring of concern from the fans as the reason for Brian's later return. These are dismissed as being impossible due to the production schedule of the show and had been planned all along.
The same commentary notes that to protect the story of Brian's return, cast members resorted to misleading their own families.
In contrast, executive producer Danny Smith noted in the commentary for "In Harmony's Way" that he thought Brian should have stayed dead. The staff in the commentary for this episode also strongly hope for a return of Vinny, although resistance from Seth MacFarlane was noted.
Stewie's reaction to Brian's gift is to question if they are expecting. The DVD commentary confirms that this led to the creation of "Stewie Is Enceinte".
The same commentary suggests how Stewie and Vinny would properly befriend in what could be an "all-musical new episode".