This Halloween, go sweet instead of scary with these fun cookie designs.

Zoe Denenberg; Prop Styling: Rachel Mulcahy

I’ve never been a fan of scary things. Growing up, my mom adorned my yellow-walled room with various nightlights; among the most memorable is a pink Care Bears nightlight that carried me well through middle school. When I complained of nightmares, my mom played soothing yoga music to help me fall back asleep. Today, I’m known for opting out of movie nights when my friends choose a horror movie, and scary stories will haunt my mind for months or years on end. Yes, I can still recall that creepy clown story that Jessica told at a seventh-grade sleepover. Now, I will never voluntarily watch a thriller or read a Stephen King novel.

Somewhat ironically, my Aunt Venita lives in California and produces horror movies. To help assuage my various childhood fears, my mom would always deliver the same anecdote: “Just imagine Aunt Venita laughing behind the camera.” So when those scary movie scenes replayed in my head, I’d then imagine Aunt Venita standing just offstage, spraying a bottle of ketchup all over the set to look like fake blood, laughing. That would make me feel better.

I’m not a fan of scary things, but I still love Halloween. But that's because my childhood Halloween was never frightening or scary. The Halloween that I know and love doesn't involve any blood or creepy clowns—for me, Halloween was about costumes and candy. I’d dress up as a peacock or a princess and go door to door, collecting mountainous amounts of candy. I’d wear glowsticks on my wrist for extra visibility and walk in a huge group of family, friends, and neighbors. Just as my mom (and my Aunt Venita) helped quell my night fears, they took the fear factor out of Halloween. It was about joy, love, and family. Halloween wasn’t scary—it was fun and, of course, sweet.

I may have since grown out of trick-or-treating, but I still hold onto the sweet Halloween spirit that I so loved as a child. Except instead of bagged candy, my go-to Halloween treat is decorated cookies. Decorated cookies are my favorite addition to any dessert spread—they’re homemade, thoughtful, and customizable for any occasion. Staying true to my childhood Halloween memories, I designed four simple Halloween cookies that’re more sweet than spooky to celebrate the holiday.

WATCH: Halloween Cakes That Are Frightfully Delicious

1. Friendly Ghost Cookies

My favorite of the bunch has to be the Friendly Ghost Cookies. Standard ghost cookies are spooky, but I wanted to dream up a way to make ghosts that were more visually interesting and playful than basic white sheets with holes for eyes. Enter: candy corn. These cute-as-can-be glossy ghosts each clutch a piece of candy corn, bringing real personality to the cookies. Two simple squinted half-moon eyes make a happy ghost, or wide black dots and an O-mouth make a spooky ghost. Each ghost’s expression is entirely customizable. Will your ghost be cuddly, sneaky, or spooky? That’s up to you. No matter your ghost’s personality, the pieces of candy corn add Halloween color and spirit to this easy cookie design.

Zoe Denenberg; Prop Styling: Rachel Mulcahy

2. Candy Corn Sugar Cookies

What better companion for your Friendly Ghost Cookies than decorated Candy Corn Sugar Cookies? These bite-sized delights recreate the festive look of candy corn without packing the sharp artificial sweetness of the signature Halloween candy. All it takes is three stripes of color to accomplish these cute sidekick cookies. If you want to add extra personality, pipe a face onto the candy corn cookie. For more candy corn fun, you can try our Candy Corn Cookies too. 

3. Spider Web Cookies

A simple way to bring elegance to your cookie assortment is with Spider Web Cookies. The dramatic black-and-white web of these cookies is deceptively easy to execute—all you need is two icing colors and a toothpick. Less is more with this sleek, modern cookie design. Pair with our Halloween Spider Cookies, and you'll add just the right amount of creepy to your dessert tray.

Zoe Denenberg; Prop Styling: Rachel Mulcahy

4. Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

Of course, no Halloween spread would be complete without some homage to a pumpkin. This may come in the form of a creative Halloween appetizer (have you ever seen a pumpkin cheese ball?) or a stunning centerpiece. But now, you can dress up the dessert spread with decorated Pumpkin Sugar Cookies. These cookies are a bit more advanced than the other designs, best suited for an experienced cookie decorator (or any baker who’s up for a challenge). They may take a bit of time, but the result is intricate, impressive, and sensationally seasonal.

Zoe Denenberg; Prop Styling: Rachel Mulcahy

Can’t choose a favorite design? Don’t worry: these four cookies were designed to go together. All cookies call for different combinations of the same four basic colors—white, orange, yellow, and black—and look adorable presented together on a cake stand or platter. These homemade cookies are a lovely, extra-thoughtful Halloween hostess gift; not only are they supremely elegant, but they’re also customizable. Make these cookies Halloween parties, as treats for friends or coworkers, or as festive seasonal sweets for the kids.

Thanks to my mom and aunt, the perpetually-fearful child in me has grown to be a little less afraid. But you can bet that I’ll still always choose sweet over scary. Spread a bit of Halloween magic with these sweet, spirited cookies.

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