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Just because there is enough busy work for those who host during the holidays, doesn’t mean the kids’ table should be an afterthought. On the contrary, Mary Liz Curtin, co-owner of Leon & Lulu in Clawson, believes in upgrading the dining experience for little ones at any celebration.

“I love setting a beautiful table,” she says. “A children’s table is even more fun.”

The only thing she’s careful about is candles, but that’s where her worries end. “We use real dishes and real glasses,” Curtin says. “They don’t have to use sippy cups. Let them use the good stuff.”

Curtin has had very little breakage at her house over the years. In fact, she says most of the damage is done by adults.

Besides, introducing small goblets and other tiny treasures early on is a real treat. “They love little pitchers or teapots to pour their own beverages,” she says.

“It’s not just for girls; boys love it too. Setting a table makes guests feel special. Just because your guests are short doesn’t make them less special.”

Curtin is known for her smile-provoking store displays, like a coffee table surrounded by small chairs scaled for the 8 and under crowd. “They’re the right height. You can even have them sit on floor pillows,” she says.

Hand puppets made from recycled sweaters contribute to a sweet floral centerpiece, while finger puppets that cover spoon handles add another layer of delight.

Colorful dishware suits the playful setting. Stuffed animals hold the seats until the live guests arrive.

A second vignette set for tweens features mismatched chairs and pretty pitchers that act as impromptu vases when filled with faux flowers made from fabric.

Chalk cloth covers the table, making it the perfect blank canvas for customization. “They can draw on it and you can write their names for place cards,” Curtin says.

Chinese takeout containers decorated with bows hold party favors for guests.

Curtin says folding tables are fine as long as you cover them with a nice cloth. She recommends felt for odd-size tables because it’s 54 inches wide. The affordable material is absorbent and washable.

Keep your centerpiece low and avoid anything that might tip over. Simple flowers will do, while windup toys create a user-friendly display.

For food, she doles out smaller portions, cut into little pieces. “I’m not above serving chicken nuggets,” she says. “They love bagel bites and pigs in a blanket. Sparkling juice is perfect for the kids’ table.”

Anything with sprinkles will be a big hit. “Let them decorate cookies or cupcakes,” she says. There are many ways to create a hands-on environment for our smaller counterparts. An enchanting children’s table is sure to charm people of all ages while making little ones feel like they’re a big part of the festivities.

“Don’t downgrade your presentation just because they’re kids,” says Curtin. “Treat them just as importantly as other guests.”

For information, contact Leon & Lulu at 248-288-3600 or go to leonandlulu.com.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at jeaninematlow@earthlink.net.

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