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In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Add the salt and baking soda and beat to combine. Add the flour and beat until you have a smooth dough. Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour, preferably overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Remove one half of the chilled dough from the refrigerator and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch (1 cm). (Keep turning the dough as you roll, making sure the dough does not stick to the counter.) Cut out your shapes and transfer cookies to baking sheet. Place the baking sheets with the unbaked cookies in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to chill the dough which prevents the cookies from spreading and losing their shape while baking.
Bake cookies for about 8-11 minutes (depending on size) or until the edges are just starting to brown. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. Frost with cookie icing then sprinkle with sanding sugar if using. Let ghost cookies dry for at least 4 hours before drawing on the faces with an edible black food marker. Be sure to let the icing dry at least 4 hours before storing.