Christmas cookies: From simple to spectacular

Make beautiful cookies even if you don't have time to fuss

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Everything you need to make holiday treats

You don't need many tools to make our Christmas cookies―just cookie cutters, a pastry bag, a straw, a small spatula, and some ribbon. You'll find the following decorative sugars and candies at gourmet specialty markets, but you can also make substitutions: Use granulated sugar instead of sanding sugar, and swap in cinnamon Red Hots or nonpareils for the dragées.

Assorted cookie cutters. We used a piece of cardboard as a template for the ornament, but the fluted-edge round and square cutters for the wreath and cutout cookies can be found on Amazon.com. A similar mini pear cookie cutter is available from the Cookie Cutter Factory  (866/255-9194).  Pinocchio Productions sells an eight-point star cookie cutter. CopperGifts.com  (620/421-0654) has a vast selection, including many star shapes, as do Michaels craft stores (800/642-4235 for store locations).

Decorative sparkle. We used a combination of dragées (dra-zhays), edible gold, matte red decoratifs, and sanding sugar. (Silver dragées are for decoration only; avoid eating them.) Look for nonmetallic dragées and sanding sugar in gourmet supermarkets, kitchen stores, Michaels, at ChefShop.com  (877/337-2491), or on Amazon.com. Fancy Flours  (406/522-8887) sells decoratifs, sanding sugar, and dragées. Edible gold is available at Sur La Table  ($35 for 150 mg; 800/243-0852).

A pastry bag fitted with a #2 plain tip. Fill it with icing to create fine lines for making branches on the wreath cookies and adding stripes and dots to the ornament and cutout cookies. You'll find bags and tips at kitchen stores such as Sur La Table as well as at craft stores like Michaels.

Ribbon. A thin one passes easily through a hole and turns even a basic cookie into a worthy ornament.

A simple drinking straw. The perfect tool for making holes in ornament cookies.

A small offset spatula. The angled blade helps you apply frosting in an even layer. Look for the tool at kitchen stores such as Sur La Table, or buy one on Amazon.com.

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