Cream together: 1 cup softened butter or margarine (I used butter)
1 1/2 cup confectionary sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp vanilla
Add (then beat well): 2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
Divide dough in half and refrigerate until cool. (This is my dough fresh out of the fridge):One half at a time, roll out on a well floured surface to no less than 1/8" thick (I don't measure-I have no clue how thick mine was!). Use more flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Cutout with cookie cutters. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 400 degrees for 6-8mins. Cookies should be very light when done. Cool on rack. Frost/decorate as desired.
Fresh out of the oven:
(Notes: Usually when I do this I chill the dough overnight. This time, I chilled it almost a week-my first half of the dough was really hard to work with-I had to let it get to room temp for quite some time and it had dried out a little bit. It still worked out ok though. The second half of the dough, I tried wetting my hand with water and kneading that into the dough and it seemed to help get rid of the dryness. My other note-I only baked mine for 5min. My bottom rack cookies were done. The top rack baked between 5-6mins.)
As for frosting, my Mom likes to make her own (2 cups confectionary sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, milk/light cream added until desired consistency). I'm not a big fan of this frosting-it's kind of like a thicker glaze. I prefer using good ol' jar frosting-I used Pillsbury Vanilla frosting and just added food coloring to it. And I don't spend forever decorating-as you can see from the pics. Frosting and sprinkles and I'm happy with that-I don't get into all the detailed artsy work since I'm not very artsy! I do have to say, I was just proud that I actually had the trees green, the stars yellow, and the stockings red! Usually I'm not that anal about the colors-anything is fair game!
I'm not sure what the yield is for this recipe, but this batch made me 70 cookies, so almost 6 dozen. I'm sure it depends how fat you make them and how big your cutters are. This can all be done in one day of course-mine was a 3 day project-made dough last Sunday, baked Friday, frosted/decorated Saturday. I let them sit out a few hours to let the frosting harden a bit before packing them away. I usually store mine in a clothing box (good use of leftover empty clothing boxes from last year's xmas!) with saran wrap/waxed paper in between the layers and they do last a long time-several weeks and they still taste good!