I don't have an Aunt Ethel. I don't know an Aunt Ethel. But that's the name on the sugar cookie recipe our family digs out every year. It's a hand-written index card that's been copied several times over. It was passed down from my Aunt Patty, who is real, but may also have never known the original author. It doesn't matter. Every December, we joke that Aunt Ethel is a dear member of our family.

So several years ago, when I was invited to my pal Barbie's annual cookie exchange, I brought Aunt Ethel's Sugar Cookies. The rules were simple and straightforward: Bring four dozen festive homemade cookies (nothing store bought!), mingle with friends over wine and nibbles, and before you head home, circle the cookie room and pack up two of each variety. The gatherings were great fun. The bonus was a platter filled with dozens of beautiful homemade cookies. It became tradition.

In the spirit of the holidays, welcome to our virtual cookie exchange. We're sharing a handful of cookie recipes from some our favorite bakers. Whether you're baking for yourself or for your family and friends, enjoy! And we'd love to see photos of the cookies you're baking this year. Share them on Instagram, tag us (we're @splendidtable), and we'll post yours below.





Jennifer Russell
Jennifer Russell is a founding producer at The Splendid Table. Before coming to radio, she made historical and arts and cultural programming for public television. She claims to have come out of the womb a food lover -- when other girls played house, she played restaurateur. Follow her comings and goings on Twitter: @jenejentweets.