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"Nooooo!" I yelled, as I leapt toward my children, in what would have made for a great slow-motion film sequence.
We were visiting friends who live in a gorgeous home that has that "freshly primped for a photoshoot" look of perfection that simultaneously stirs both admiration and discomfort. Like moths to a flame, my children had bee-lined for a coffee-table centerpiece, a large crystal bowl filled with ceramic balls. I practically dove between the kids and table in an effort to avert disaster.
Our gracious hostess stepped over me and led the kids over to show them the balls, and explained that they were part of a "look, but don't touch" decoration.
As I nursed my carpet burn, her words triggered a memory of a home I'd been in years ago, long before we had children. Everything about Claire and Jim's home was lovely and elegant but a unique centerpiece stood out in my mind — a shallow basket filled with nesting dolls, a rainbow of crocheted balls from India, and a few colorful carved wooden animals. It was such a pretty and interesting collection, and as I admired it, Claire commented how it was for her grandkids to touch and enjoy.
Now I've long-since given up my aspirations of living in a Pottery Barn magazine — though I've mastered the "barn" part quite nicely, as evident in the plastic Fisher Price one set up in the corner — but kid-friendly can be decor-friendly, too.
So in homage to Claire and Jim, I've copied their "Please Touch Centerpiece." I bought a shallow basket at an imports store and I rotate a "collection" in it that begs to be touched and explored. Sometimes I fill it with small teddy bears I've rounded up, or wooden blocks, or baseballs in multi-colored leather that my husband collects. Or I'll buy a big bag of vinyl goldfish from www.orientaltrading.com and dump them in there.
My centerpiece is engaging, pretty, kid-friendly and the best part — no one ever has to risk injury to protect it from their children!