Easy cookie decorating ideas from Sunset Magazine. (Thomas J. Story / Sunset Publishing)

Bakers, start your ovens. The holiday baking season is nearly here. More than ever this year, I’m looking for easy Christmas cookie recipes and decorating ideas that I can turn into Christmas gifts without too much effort. If that sounds like you, check out these 5 easy Christmas cookie gift ideas from Sunset’s archives.

1. Decorate cookies with nut halves

Show the cookie flavor—here walnut Mexican Wedding Cakes—with a nut pressed into the dough before baking.

2. Add a squiggle of jam to cheesecake bar cookies

Brighten Cheesecake Bars with seedless raspberry jam piped through a pastry bag.

3. Emboss sugar cookies with kitchen tools

No frosting required! Add texture to sugar cookies using cooking tools (clockwise from top): meat tenderizer, triangular can opener (use convex side), cannelé mold, diamond-shape cookie cutter, 5-hole zester.

Cookie letter greeting. (Thomas J. Story / Sunset Publishing)

4. Spell out a cookie greeting

Diane Gsell, a California food stylist, packages individual letter cookies in cellophane bags and suspends them from a string with colorful binder clips. Hand them out as party favors at your next holiday gathering. Cut Favorite Sugar Cookie Dough about 1/4 inch thick and bake until firm, then decorate.

Peppermint Layer Cookies. (Annabelle Breakey / Sunset Publishing)

5. Package colorful layered cookies in a simple silver tin

Peppermint Layer Cookies take a little more time to make than some cookies, but are worth it. Show them off in a simple, classy silver tin.

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