I am no cookie decorator, but I can provide you with a perfectly lovely cookie canvas for your festive work of art. Here is a tried and true recipe that will not fail you as well as some tips on how to get the perfect shapes with your cutter.
Sugar Cookie Dough
2 cups of white sugar
2 sticks of unsalted butter
2 whole eggs
2tsp of vanilla extract
1 tsp of butter flavoring
1 tsp of almond flavoring
4 cups of flour+ 1/4 cup on the side
1 tsp of baking powder
1/4 tsp of cream of tarter
1 tsp of kosher salt
Cream butter and sugar in a stand or hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Add extracts and continue to whip until very fluffy. in a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, cream of tarter and salt. Slowly add the flour as the mixer is going and mix until just combined and no flour is visible. Pour dough onto plastic wrap and chill in the fridge at least 1 hour and up to 3 days. Dough can also be kept frozen up to a month.
Handeling the Dough
Once you’ve chilled your dough, cut off a half section with a bench scraper and wrap the other half to store in the fridge. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Very lightly flour your work surface and your rolling pin before you start. Sprinkle a small amount of flour on all sides of the dough ball and begin to roll. Tip: Roll dough until just flat and to about 1/4 inch thickness, no thinner. You’ll only roll it about 4 times until it’s even. If you roll it any thinner, the cookies won’t cut as well and they will stick to your work surface. Thinner cookies will bake crispier and won’t be as soft.
Take your cookie cutter and very lightly flour the edges. Make your cut into the dough with your cutter and pull it straight out without wiggling the sides. Take a very thin metal spatula and dust a small amount of flour to the edge. Slide it under the cut dough (do this fast, like a pizza crust on a peel) to transfer the cut cookie shape easily onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Shape the scraps into a ball to roll out again, but make sure to chill it again before you roll it out . Sugar cookie dough has so much butter in it that the dough will melt with the warmth of your hands and won't be workable, so a quick chill before you roll it out again is best. Note: if you are cutting a very large shape, it is best to move the rolled out dough onto the baking sheet before you cut out your shape. It's nearly impossible to transfer a large shape onto a baking sheet without damaging it.
Bake cookies for about 10 minutes but no more than 12 minutes, depending on thickness. I like mine baked through but with no browning visible, and I find the sweet spot for this is about 11 minutes exactly.
Let the cookies cool completely on a cooling rack before decorating. Store in an airtight container to keep them soft.