The templates for the stars may be found on the Holiday Channel of our website, www.marthastewart.com.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat on medium speed until mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract.
Reduce speed to low, and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until thoroughly combined. Divide the dough into four parts, and flatten each piece into a disk. Wrap the disks in plastic, and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Place a clean piece of parchment paper or a Silpat (a French nonstick baking mat) on work surface, and dust generously with flour. Place one disk of dough in center, and roll to 3/16 inch thick. While rolling, occasionally run a large offset spatula under the dough to distribute the flour and prevent sticking. Use more flour for the top or bottom of dough if necessary. Transfer parchment paper and rolled dough to a cookie sheet that fits in freezer. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes or until the dough is chilled through. (This may be done in the refrigerator, but it will take longer.) Repeat process with remaining dough (you can stack sheets in the freezer to chill).
Remove dough and parchment from the freezer, and transfer to work surface. Using the cutout templates and a paring knife or utility knife, cut three of each size star. Using a plastic straw, poke a hole in the center of each cookie. Remove the templates from the dough, and pull away scraps from the stars. If the stars are too close together, carefully use a spatula to transfer them to a parchment or Silpatlined baking sheet. Return cut cookies to the freezer to chill before baking; this will prevent excessive spreading. Reroll scraps, and cut out remaining stars.
Once the cookies are chilled through, remove them from freezer, and place in the oven. Bake 15 to 18 minutes, rotating at least once, until cookies begin to get color. Remove from oven, and transfer to a heat-proof surface.
Decorate the cookies with Royal Icing and sanding sugar or nonpareils if desired. Place one of the largest cookies on a plate, and place an 11-inch wooden skewer in the hole. Stack the remaining two largest cookies on top, spiraling them so that the points don't line up. Continue to stack the cookies in descending-size order. If you have left the cookies undecorated, dust them with confectioners' sugar if desired. Serve.