Do friends and family eagerly await your holiday cookies each year? Is your favorite holiday cookie recipe one that has special significance because it was passed down by a beloved aunt or grandmother (or uncle or grandfather)? MaineToday.com is looking for Maine’s best amateur bakers to submit their recipes for its first-annual Holiday Cookie Contest, which kicks off today.

Here’s how it works:

Submit your recipe, a description of why it is special to you and a photo of your cookies via the entry form on MaineToday.com.

Deadline for submissions is midnight on Nov. 27.

MaineToday.com and Portland Press Herald features staff will choose six finalists, who will be notified by phone on Dec. 2.

Final judging will be on Dec. 10. Between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., each finalist will bring four dozen of his or her finished cookies to our offices on the fifth floor at One City Center in Portland. Finalists are then invited to a festive event at Grace Restaurant, where beginning at 5 p.m., a panel of top-notch local pastry chefs will taste the cookies and determine the winners.

Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place and guests at the event will choose a People’s Choice winner.

The winning recipes will be published on MaineToday.com and in the Portland Press Herald.

Here are a few tips for success:

1. Be clear and specific in your recipe instructions. For instance, everyone’s oven is different, so include what the cookies should look like when they’re done, not just how long to bake them. Do you use salted butter or unsalted? Does the dough have to chill? The more detail, the better.

2. We’re looking for cookies with a story, whether it’s funny or poignant. Your submission should include why this cookie is so important to you at the holidays.

3. Taste matters more than appearance. Cut-out and decorated cookies can be beautiful, but they’re not going to win a place in the finals on looks alone.

For the official rules, see MaineToday.com.