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Heat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Cream together the butter and sugar, then gradually beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Sift and stir in the flour and mix to a fairly soft dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently. Cover or wrap the dough and chill for at least two hours.
Next roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to around 0.5cm thick. Cut into oval shapes with a cookie cutter or by cutting round a paper template. You can make mini owl biscuits by using a smaller cutter or template.
Transfer the biscuits to a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Put different sized biscuits on separate trays. Place the whole almonds into the dough to create the owls' eyebrows and beaks. If creating decorations for the tree, make a hole near the top of the biscuits using the end of a paintbrush. Bake in the oven for 8 - 14 minutes, depending on the size of the biscuits, until the edges turn lightly golden in colour. Once out of the oven, leave the biscuits on the baking tray to cool.
To decorate, set aside enough white chocolate buttons to create the owls' eyes - use giant or standard-sized buttons depending on the size of the owls - the biggest you can fit are best to give a truly owl-like expression. Melt the remainder in the microwave or in a bowl over barely simmering water.
Using a small tipped paintbrush, carefully paint and stick down the decorations. Stick on the white chocolate buttons, then the dark chocolate chips on top to make the eyes. Neatly paint more melted chocolate over each owl's chest, pressing on the flaked almonds. You can layer the almonds with extra white chocolate.
If you find some of the almond eyebrows and beaks have come loose or you are planning to hang the owls on the tree, use some of the melted chocolate to stick them in place. Leave to set.
Thread pretty string or fine ribbon into Christmas decorations so you can hang them. Dust with icing sugar and gold edible glitter if using.