There is just something about holiday cookies. The kids want to hang out with me in the kitchen, which is one of my all-time favorite things, and there are always plenty to share with neighbors and friends.

In the midst of whatever is happening outside, the momentary bliss of warm sugar and spice wafting throughout the house is a time we are together and fully present. This is the recurring gift I continually long for, especially as the little ones grow. Our hands are making, our mouths are tasting and our noses are smelling the intoxicating scent of cookies baking in the oven.

I wanted to share three easy-to-make cookies that are sure to delight.

The Swedish spice cookies I have been making for years on Christmas Eve and are the ones we leave for Santa. We are fairly sure he loves them because on Christmas morning there is only a sprinkle of crumbs left on the plate.

The pecan, oat and red chile thumbprints are so easy your kids could probably put together a batch of these on their own and only need help baking them. I include a bit of red chile powder for a fun hint of heat, but this could easily be left out.

And, finally, the gingerbread cutout cookies are a little more work because there is an icing involved, but they're not too hard and give everyone permission to let their inner artist come out and shine.

Swedish Spice Cookies

Makes: 30 cookies; total time: 30 minutes

1¼ cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) butter, room temperature

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup light brown sugar, packed

2 tablespoons real maple syrup

3 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Preparation: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large sheet tray with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the butter, sugars, syrup and pumpkin pie spice. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until combined. Roll into 30 balls and press each onto the sheet tray with the heel of your palm or a flat bottomed cup. Bake for 12 minutes.

Pecan, Oat & Red Chile Thumbprint Cookies

Makes: 20 cookies; total time: 30 minutes

1 cup pecan pieces

1 cup oats

1 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon red chile powder

½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, melted

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup brown sugar

Raspberry and/or apricot jam

Preparation: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two sheet trays with parchment paper. In a food processor or blender, pulse together the pecans and oats to form a textured flour and transfer this to a large mixing bowl. Stir in the all-purpose flour and red chile powder. Add the melted butter, both sugars and stir until combined. Break dough into 20 even pieces, roll each into a ball and place on the prepared sheet trays, 2 inches apart from each other. Use your thumb to make a well in the center of each ball of dough, fill with around a teaspoon of jam and bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are golden brown.

Gingerbread Cutout Cookies

Makes: 30-60 cookies, depending on size; total time: 2 hours

For the cookies:

3½ cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

5 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice blend

¾ cup butter, room temperature

½ cup molasses

2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

½ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons heavy cream

For the royal icing:

3 large egg whites

3 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preparation: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and pumpkin spice blend. In a large pot over medium heat, combine the butter, molasses, vanilla bean paste, brown sugar and heavy cream. Bring mixture to a boil. Once the sugar is dissolved, turn off heat and stir in the flour mixture until a solid dough forms. Form the dough into a round, 1 inch thick and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour. If you refrigerate for longer, make sure to pull the dough out of the fridge for around 20 minutes before rolling.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out the dough to ⅛-inch thick on a lightly floured surface and cut into whatever fun shapes you want. Transfer cookies to the prepared baking sheet and baking for 10 minutes. Let cool completely before decorating.

To make the royal icing: In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites, powdered sugar, vanilla and lemon juice together the icing has the consistency of thick buttermilk. The icing should be thick enough to hold its shape but not runny. Place the icing in a piping bag and decorate away!

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