Amy Whitley makes it all look so easy.
She can whip up a themed party in no time, and concoct Christmas treats that would make Les Miles (and Santa) smile.
For parties, Whitley draws on her own decorating style plus a cache of crystal and silver serving pieces she’s inherited from her mother and mother-in-law.
When it comes to unique, edible treats, Whitley finds inspiration everywhere from Tiger Stadium to favorite Christmas flicks.
For a large party, Whitley doesn’t hesitate to call on friends, borrowing platters, cutting boards, wooden crates or whatever is needed to fit the party theme.
Table and sideboard decorations went up early for the Christmas party she and husband Ty will be hosting for the faculty and staff at St. Luke’s Episcopal Day School, where Amy Whitley is head of school.
A few brightly colored ornaments are nestled among the mostly white, silver and crystal decorations. After Christmas, out come the ornaments and the table is ready for New Year’s Eve.
“The school’s board will do most of the food for the Christmas party,” she says, although she is sure to augment the menu with some of her favorite party foods.
“I like whimsy,” says Whitley, who will pair Deviled Eggs and Pecan Praline Bacon on a “bacon and eggs” platter for a cocktail party.
She recommends tagging dishes so guests can easily identify them.
Working ahead, if time allows, also makes party planning a little easier.
Not everything, she says, has to be done on party day or even the day before.
“I try to do desserts like brownies and cookies a week ahead and freeze them,” Whitley says. “For iced cookies, I freeze the cookies themselves and ice them the day before the party. If you ice and then freeze, the icing comes out dull.”
And even Ebenezer Scrooge wouldn’t be able to muster a bah or a humbug when faced with Whitley’s humorous take on treats.
Every Christmas, she makes decorated cookies for each St. Luke’s staff member. Last year, each cookie was shaped like a candy cane with a note attached quoting the movie “Elf”: “We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.”
For other Christmas cookies, the Whitley family, which includes daughter Jill and son Ben, gives their creative concoctions the names of favorite LSU football players.
“We love cookies almost as much as we love LSU football — almost!” Whitley says. “It all started with the Glenn Dorsey Cookie, and continued with other great cookies and players. Recipients naturally have talent, but they are also known for their character.”
The family’s No. 18 cookie, which includes chocolate chips, coconut and macadamia nuts, is a particularly special recipe, she says.
“It is bigger than one cookie or one player. It is the best of the best,” Whitley says, explaining the custom started by Matt Mauck at LSU.
The quarterback, who wore No. 18, began the tradition of passing down the number to a player who overcomes adversity and represents what it means to be a Tiger football player and leader on and off the field.
She has a cookie in development for Leonard Fournette — “a chocolate cookie with chocolate chips and silver sprinkles for his braces. The plan is when — when, not if — he wins the Heisman Trophy, I’ll change the silver to gold.”