My favorite part of the holidays is baking with my collection of international cookie cutters, snapped up on my travels, which broaden my repertoire far beyond sugar cookies. Each December I use intricate resin molds from Germany to make anise-flavored springerle. I use a petite spring-loaded plunger to make crumbly polvoron, the Filipino powdered milk and butter cookies traditionally eaten over the holidays. When I do make sugar cookies, I turn to the one-of-a-kind Malaysian cutter that looks like a knuckleduster and stamps out five tiny pineapples at once. Part of the fun is seeing how versatile these precisely purposed tools can be. A set of wood Chinese molds are equally suited for making rice flour cakes for the Lunar New Year, as well as ginger-spiced Dutch _speculaas_at Christmas, and my tart cutters—designed to make pastries filled with pineapple jam—also make beautifully symmetrical thumbprint cookies, no thumbs required.

See a collection of christmas cookie recipes »