1 1/2 cups butter, softened
3 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.
Now for the fun part! Make up some royal icing (recipes for the meringue and egg white version are here) and tint with your favorite colors. If you have decorating tips, use a medium-sized round one. If not, just put some icing in a ziploc freezer baggie, snip a corner off one end and you're good to go. Outline your cookies with icing. When they're all finished, thin out icing with a little water until it's thin enough to drop off a toothpick when you dip it in the bowl. Spread the thinned icing on the cookie and decorate as desired. Check out my video on how to make cute & easy dots and hearts. My girls especially liked making the "ladybug hearts" (red and black). The edible pearls are from sugarcraft.com.
A note on black icing: if you are using it to outline cookies, let it dry completely before flooding with thinned icing. The black tends to bleed unless dry. Also, Bridget over at Bake at 350 has some great tips on adding dots to cookies. I just read them and will try them for next time!