Christmas Butter Cookies Recipe with Karen V

Every year for Christmas, my mom's girlfriend Karen V bakes a bountiful supply of Christmas cookies. Conversely, I am known for poor planning and burning things. So, we visited with Karen this past weekend to eat and talk and laugh and "help" make some yummy butter cookies.  

Even though this December has been sunny and in the 60s, we tried to conjure some Christmas spirit with carols and pizza. It was so fun! And it took all day. Christmas cookies are hard. Luckily, there was a revolving door of generous visitors and colorful helpers, though none as colorful as Karen herself. 

We started the day with egg sandwiches because some of us may have been over-served the night before. And, true to form, everything about this event was a (moveable) mess: 

  • we started late
  • we couldn't find the demitasse spoon
  • Karen was embarrassed by her cookie sheet
  • we had to run out for more confectioner's sugar
  • we forgot the orange juice
  • the frosting didn't come out well enough to actually use
  • Giuseppe the cat got sick :(

All the photos are by Caroline or Caitlin or Joe, depending, but mostly Caroline, I think.

Cast of Characters:


Starring Karen V, our Master of Ceremonies


With my sister Caroline, Moveable Mess stylist & photographer (for this post, anyway)


And friend Mary Catherine, our resident social media expert


Our main man, Joe - tech support, cameraman, foley artist, and editor


Yours truly! Organizer, go-fer, and typist


Little Suse - Glamour Puss


Introducing Giuseppe (Joey) the kitten - mischief maker

With Special Guest Appearances by:


Babs! Gift-giver and sight for sore eyes :)

Christmas Butter Cookie Dough

We did a double recipe, which is reflected in the ingredients below. It can be simply halved to yield a more manageable amount of dough. But for Karen's purposes, a double recipe reigns - we had about a third of the dough leftover for her future use.


  • 4 sticks of butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 5 cups flour + more for consistency
  • 3-4 tbsp orange juice (optional)

First, combine the butter, egg, and vanilla in a large bowl.

Next, add the sugar and cream together. With a fork, for some reason. Scrape & scoop the butter until it's incorporated with the sugar & wet ingredients.

Then add the remaining dry ingredients: flour & baking powder. 

Then start pawing at it.

And paw and pinch and pummel until it's the desired consistency. Add a bit of flour or water if it is or too wet or dry.


Finally, shape into a log, wrap, and chill for a few hours!

In the meantime...

  • Be visited by friends who come bearing plaid holiday gifts!
  • Photograph Karen's adorable ornaments that she made last year!
  • Get photobombed by Mary!
  • Cuddle the kitty in the middle of dressing for a black tie event!

Make Cookies!

When the dough is chilled, cut off a manageable piece. Freeze or refrigerate the remaining dough & repeat.

For Thumbprints

Begin by rolling the dough into small balls and placing them on a cookie sheet (or on a brand-new plaid glass cutting board).

Then, as the name suggests, press your thumb into the center to create an indent in the dough. Fill each indent with a dollop of jam or jelly.  

When they're all jammed up, pop them into a 350 degree oven until the edges are golden brown (about 15 minutes).

After they've cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar & serve!

For Cutout Cookies

Begin by rolling out the cut piece of dough to about 1/8 inch thick.

Cut 'em out! Karen has a delightful collection of cookie cutters including some that were her grandmothers in the 1940s. 

Decorate as you please! 

We ended up doing colored sugar and cinnamon imperials before baking because the frosting we tried to make didn't come out quite right. 

Bake in a 350 degree oven until edges are golden brown. 

Thank you Karen! We had a great time!

What are you baking for the holidays?