A holiday party isn’t complete until there is a tray of Christmas cookies, is it? You probably already have some standard recipes that you use for chocolate chip cookies or oatmeal raisin cookies to start your cookie tray. If you want to add some festive variety to your tray, we’ve got Christmas cookie recipes you’ll love.

Go for all-natural or organic ingredients in these cookies whenever you can, especially if you’re using any food coloring. Use natural food coloring for any frosting and buy colored sprinkles and sugars for your cookies that have been made with natural food coloring.

Sugar Cookies. Children love to make sugar cookies with cookie cutters and decorate them with sprinkles and frosting. These are classic cookie-cutter cookies, and the variety of shapes for Christmas is endless. Christmas trees, stars, reindeer, gift boxes, candy canes, snowmen, gingerbread men … they are all so fun to decorate. Try this recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything. She tried several different sugar cookie recipes until she found the ultimate one. It makes a cookie that is “really moist and soft but still holds its shape so that it's easy to frost.”

Gingerbread Cookies. Eating Well has a recipe for these spicy holiday classics that replaces a portion of the butter with canola oil. The flavor still remains, but the amount of saturated fat in the cookies is decreased a bit. You’ll need a gingerbread man cookie cutter for these cookies. This recipe makes about 80 two– to three-inch cookies (less if you’ve got a large cookie cutter) and will keep in an airtight container for five days or freeze for up to one month.

Rugelach. Adding Rugelach, a traditional Jewish cookie, to your Christmas cookies brings a nice variety to your tray. Ina Garten’s recipe gets rave reviews from users. A cream cheese dough is the base for these crescent-shaped cookies that are filled with nuts, raisins and apricot preserves. They take a bit of time to make, but are actually easy. This recipe yields four dozen cookies.

Thumbprint Trios. Thumbprint cookies are a Christmas standard. This recipe from Epicurious updates the standard by using the classic butter cookie recipe and baking three cookies right next to each other so they mesh together to form a trio of thumbprints. Each indentation in the cookie is filled with a different preserve — raspberry, apricot and strawberry. If you took the time to put up preserves earlier this year, feel free to substitute any flavor of your homemade preserves for the ones suggested in the recipe.

Cranberry Pecan Shortbread Cookies. Nothing says “it’s the holidays” like cranberries. Dried cranberries are used in this cookie with pecans (a nut that seems to be in everything during the holidays.) Whole Foods shares this shortbread cookie recipe that uses white whole wheat flour to increase the nutritional value. The recipe makes 30 to 40 cookies. The dough can be made in advance, frozen, and then defrosted to make fresh baked cookies for last-minute entertaining.

Know of other Christmas cookie recipes? Leave us a note in the comments below.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Christmas cookie recipes
If you want to add some festive variety to your holiday, we've got six Christmas cookie recipes you’ll love.