These calendars were a solution to a Christmas money problem and turned into a cherished tradition between me and my best girlfriends. We started off with a group of 5, and buying gifts for each person was no problem for 20-somethings with disposable income. Then a 6th girl joined the group. We started getting married and having babies. Our incomes were no longer disposable, so the idea of doing Secret Santa was presented. It was a brilliant idea, but I still wanted to give something small to each person.
Enter the calendars.
First: Start gathering up images to use. Thanks to social media, I’m able to collect the photos I need without much issue. I couple of my friends are Facebook-shy, so I just text them and ask them to send me their favorite pictures. I make sure each friend has a nice solo picture that I can use for their birthday month, and then I just save any and all pictures that I think would look good on the calendar. You can always delete the images you don’t use, and it’s a LOT harder to go back through all those Facebook albums for a picture you saw earlier.
Second: Organize your material by month. This includes photos, text, and clipart. For each month I include a list of that month’s birthdays and anniversaries, and make photos of the birthday girls/boys the focal point. I’ve done different things over the years to round out the page….you just have to do what works best for you.
Some examples are:
– Cute stickers and icons representing our different professions.
– Q&A (I sent each person a list of 12 questions and put everyone’s answers on the calendar.)
– Picture themes. (For example: Halloween costumes pictures for October, beach pictures in July, workout selfies in January, etc.)
– Inspirational quotes
Third: Come up with a theme and start sketching layouts. This is my personal challenge every year and a perfect opportunity to experiment with new techniques that I’ve learned on Photoshop and Illustrator. It needs to be fun, but it also has to be easy to duplicate. For me, calendar prep starts in the fall, when it’s busiest at work. I only get a few hours of spare time a week to work on it, so the entire process takes months to complete. After the organizing and sketching is done, the actual execution of the design needs to be efficient.
Fourth: Create. You have all the elements you need sketched out…. Now it’s time to make them. This is the part that most people get stuck on. You WILL need some sort of art program and have the basic knowledge on how to use it. Adobe has changed to the “pay-by-the-month” method, so it’s actually affordable for the layman to get Photoshop and Illustrator. You can sign up and just cancel your membership when you’re done. Before that, I had to buy a physical disc set that set me back about $1200 each time! The most common complaint is that they’re hard to use, but nowadays you can go online and find tutorials for free. There are also some decent iPad apps out there that will let you create and design with layers. (I like Tayasui Sketches! It’s affordable and has beautiful tools to play with!)
If you are not particularly artistic, have no fear. There are so many wonderful artists out there selling affordable, ready-to-use clipart and patterns. Including myself! I like the selections on Etsy and Creative Market. Creative Market is more expensive, but the sellers there are usually seasoned professionals and the quality is very good. Find the art you want, add your pictures, and make that calendar!
Last: Print. You are more than welcome to print your calendars at home and bind them yourself, but I don’t have time for that. I just don’t. I use a print service to do the dirty work for me. I’ve used Shutterfly and Costco in the past to print my calendars, and I’ve been happy with both. Costco is definitely cheaper, but for some reason they don’t print all the way to the edge… you will get a small white border around your image. This is no deal-breaker for me, but I think it looks nicer to get a full bleed. Shutterfly is expensive compared to Costco, but they always have a sale going on to offset some of the cost and they DO print to the edge. The calendar grid on the bottom is also way nicer on Shutterfly. It’s really up to you. If I have extra money, I splurge on Shutterfly. If not, I go Costco.
The whole process is easy, but time consuming. If it sounds like way too much work for you, no worries…. I turned my 2017 calendar into easy to use templates, available in my Etsy shop. I’m really excited because this calendar came out so nice, and it just happens to be the first calendar template I put up for sale. So go ahead and skip the 3 months of designing and go straight to adding photos. Please check it out!