Beware monogrammed & personalized gifts

When Julian was born, we received three stools that said JULIAN on them. He was the center of our universe, and if I was a tattoo-lover, I probably would have had his name inked across my body.

I may not have thought to leave room on my back for “Scarlett.”

The other day when I received a marketing email from Pottery Barn, packed with playroom furniture and luggage, all of which can be customized with initials or names, I felt like I should publish this warning:

If your family is not yet complete, plan for hand-me-downs.

Here’s how:

1) Buy gender neutral colors. When you buy your child a bike, a helmet, a scooter, look for red, orange, or lime green. Blue is versatile as well, but a Spider-Man-emblazoned blue scooter may or may not be embraced by a little sister. It’s hard to predict. A booster carseat fit for a princess may or may not be accepted by a little brother. Scarlett loves wearing her brother’s hand-me-down pajamas and doesn’t care or notice how boyish they are, but for some reason daytime clothes are a different story.

2) Limit personalized gifts to smaller items. Everyone loves to see his name on a pencil or small backpack. A gigantic monogrammed chair becomes a less flexible piece of furniture over the long run.

3) Label with last names. If you’re ordering labels or just using a Sharpie to tag something before allowing it to leave the house, consider whether another child may ever use it. My daughter’s precious lovey? Sure, that’s for “Scarlett” alone, no one else. EVER! A picture book that’s going to preschool for Show and Tell should be marked with our family name instead. That’s so that she can’t rip it out of her brother’s hands claiming, “That’s MINE!”

4) Make it temporary. We have some of these tags that work well on backpacks, lunchboxes and jackets. A piece of painters tape with a name written in marker may do the trick for temporary labeling as well.

We still have two “JULIAN” stools, but the third has been made nameless with a coat of spray paint.

What do you have with your child’s name on it?