Preston's presents are often unhelpful -- unnecessary, ridiculous or inconvenient. However, he always gives out of the goodness of his heart, so it's hard for other people to get angry with him.
Preston's debut, Episode 2616, is an extended spoof of The Music Man. Preston's clothes and his persistence in giving gifts (rather than conning people) spoof the musical's title character, Harold Hill. His name is a take on Robert Preston, the actor who originated the role on Broadway and starred in the film version.
Although Preston was no longer a regular character on Sesame Street after Season 23, the character would occasionally make cameo appearances on the show, such as in a sketch re-enacting The Tortoise and the Hare (also featuring Shelley the Turtle and Benny Rabbit), and in episode 3690. In 2017, the puppet appropriately appeared in Sesame Street's Stranger Things parody as chief of Hawkins Police Department, Jim Hopper.
The puppet (sans his blue tuft of hair) would later be re-used on Sesamstrasse in various roles, mainly as a salesmen, such as Reiner Sauberhasi, Knut Köffelström, Hase Spielhaus, Hasi Himmelglück, Armin, Henry, Hugo Räumlich, an unnamed audience member on Eine Möhre für Zwei, as well as on Die Große Sesamstrassen-Gala, and again as a rabbit named Preston on Sesamstrasse, and for a series of 40th Anniversary live puppetry workshops for children held by Julian Kleibeler and Travis Frost at venues all over Germany in 2013. The following year, he appeared in a German Wort des Tages ("Word of the Day") segment alongside David Garrett.