Holiday baking is a tradition that stretches through time. What person doesn’t look forward to the treats the season brings? Cookies are often gifted to friends and family members, and they usually help complete the dessert offerings after the holiday meal. Sugar cookies are an ideal holiday cookie because of their versatility. They can be dressed-up however you see fit, whether iced, covered in sprinkles or enjoyed as they are dunked in hot cocoa. To make successful sugar cookies, try this triple-tested recipe courtesy of Monica Buck and Good Housekeeping.

Yields: 5 dozen cookies

• 1 cup (2 sticks) butter (no substitutions), softened

• 1/2 cup sugar

• 1 large egg

• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

• 3 cups all-purpose flour

• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• Frosting (optional)

• Coarse sugar crystals, silver dragees, holiday decors (optional decorations)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In large bowl, with mixer on low speed, beat butter and sugar until blended. Increase speed to high; beat until light and creamy. On low speed, beat in egg and vanilla. Beat in flour, baking powder and salt until blended.

2. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces; flatten each piece into a disk. Wrap each disk with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour or until dough is firm enough to roll. (Or place dough in freezer 30 minutes.)

3. On a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin, roll 1 piece of dough 1/8-inch thick. With floured 3-inch to 4-inch cookie cutters, cut dough into as many cookies as possible; wrap and refrigerate trimmings. Place cookies, 1 inch apart, on ungreased large cookie sheet.

4. Bake cookies 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough and trimmings.

5. When cookies are cool, decorate with frosting if you like; use along with sugars and candies to decorate cookies.

Set cookies aside to allow frosting to dry completely, about 1 hour. Store in tightly covered container (with waxed paper between layers if decorated) at room temperature up to 2 weeks, or in put in the freezer for up to 3 months.