Make sure the cream is very cold; if you have time, chill the whisk (or beaters) and bowl in the freezer for about 15 minutes. This will help the cream whip quickly and will increase its volume.
A large handheld whisk is very easy to use. If you are using an electric mixer, beat on medium speed, being careful not to overbeat (the cream will turn buttery). To use an immersion blender, whip the cream in a large liquid measuring cup (or other deep, narrow container) instead of a bowl; to avoid spattering, keep the blade submerged. If you plan to use any flavorings, such as extracts, liqueurs, or spices, add them with the sugar in step 2.
If you prefer, you can replace the granulated sugar with an equal amount of confectioners' sugar; to prevent any lumps from forming, use a fine-mesh sieve to sift the sugar over the cream.