WASHINGTON (AP) – There were cookies everywhere, recalled Sally Andersen-Bruce of New Milford, Conn., who almost literally cooked up this year’s Christmas stamps.

The 37-cent holiday stamps being issued Thursday feature Christmas cookies, a tasty treat enjoyed by millions every year.

Anderson-Bruce, a photographer who has worked for the Postal Service before, said she first suggested cookie cutters for the stamps, but later settled on the cookies themselves, arriving at the final designs – Santa Claus, snowmen, an angel and elves – after discussions with postal officials.

A star, for example, was ruled out as too big and too pale. A green-frosted Christmas tree cookie with a yellow star hides in the corner or sides of three stamps, but isn’t a main feature.

The winners, gingerbread and sugar cookies, sport colorful frosting.

Getting the idea approved was one thing – then she needed to take pictures. That meant getting some cookies.

Anderson-Bruce and two women she hired to help ended up baking more than 1,000 cookies starting in 2001, she said.

“The place smelled great,” she recalled.

She even turned to a professional cookie cutter maker Tommy Simpson, a friend, to get just the right shapes so the cookies would be to scale with each other.

At one point, she recalled, every flat surface in the house was covered with cookies. Her Irish setter made quick work of at least one.

Anderson-Bruce’s work provided the images for four stamps. The Postal Service pays $5,000 per image for material it uses on stamps.

The first-day of issue ceremonies for the stamps were scheduled for Thursday outside the Pillsbury Kitchens at General Mills Headquarters in Minneapolis and at a stamp show at New York’s Madison Square Garden. They go on sale nationwide Friday.

On the Net:

U.S. Postal Service: http://www.usps.com

Sally Anderson-Bruce: http://www.sabphoto.com

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