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If the thought of digging out your great aunt's shortbread recipe – the one you whip for days and top with little bits of red and green glacé cherries – is sapping you of holiday spirit, fear not. Julie Van Rosendaal presents a few new standbys that can be glammed up any number of ways

All-butter Shortbread

Good shortbread is the quintessential holiday cookie and makes a buttery blank canvas to add all kinds of flavours and additions. No matter what you do to the dough, there are just as many ways to shape it: Press it into a square pan, bake and cut into squares or bars (or a round pan for wedges), roll and cut shapes, or roll the dough into balls and flatten with a cookie stamp, meat mallet or the bottom of a glass before baking.

Sugar or Linzer Cookies

Regardless of how you dress it up, sugar cookie dough can be rolled and cut into shapes, sandwiched with raspberry or apricot jam (or even Nutella), or shaped into a log, wrapped in parchment and refrigerated or frozen to slice and bake in cookie emergencies.

Cocoa-swirled Meringues

Big, crunchy meringues with soft middles make stunning holiday sweets – you can make them large or small, and swirling with a spoon or spatula negates the need for decorating. A bit of vinegar beaten in at the end gives them a more marshmallowy interior, but isn't necessary.

Ginger Molasses Crinkles

Some form of gingerbread is a holiday necessity – these thin, chewy cookies are rolled in sugar before baking to give them a crackly edge.

Chocolate Chunk Drop Cookies

Cookies made with dough you drop by the spoonful onto a baking sheet are among the simplest to make – chocolate chunk are the most familiar, but you could add just about anything to that soft, buttery brown sugar dough.

More Globe holiday baking guides: