Beat shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add 3/4 cup sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, beating until blended.
Combine flour, salt, and baking powder; gradually add to shortening mixture, beating at low speed until blended. Cover and chill 10 minutes.
Combine 1/3 cup sugar and food coloring gel in a zip-top plastic bag, and seal; shake and squeeze bag to evenly distribute color. (Too much gel will make sugar wet.)
Press dough into desired shapes using a cookie press. Sprinkle cookies with colored sugar, or top with candied cherries, if desired. Place cookies on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake at 400° for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on wire racks.
*Red or green decorator sugar crystals may be substituted for sugar and food coloring gel.
For this recipe, sift the flour after measuring it.