Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Handcrafted Photo Calendars as Gifts

By Christina VanGinkel

With the holidays once again just around the corner, projects that put to use items we already own, and that are things the gift recipient can actually use, are always in demand. A photo calendar is just such a project. With effort put towards the choice of photographs, a photo printer, or photographs in the needed size, along with a standard inkjet printer, a stapler, adhesive, and a selection of cardstock, you can create a fantastic calendar that will result in family members asking you to create new ones each holiday season.

Begin by choosing between twelve and thirteen pictures for your calendar. One for each month, and either a thirteenth for the cover, or decide on which month's choice will be duplicated. Photo choices could include a variety of subjects, such as different family members, or be focused on one person, such as a grandchild for a doting set of grandparents. For extended family, consider photos from a family reunion, or a shared family vacation. Pets are also good choices for photographs, or even favorite landscapes. One young man I know that is a budding photographer shares his favorite photos from the past year that include everything from nature snapshots to landscapes.

If you absolutely cannot choose only twelve or thirteen snapshots, consider a variety of layouts for each month. You could use a split page on some, so you actually have two or even four photographs on one page, though this works best when the photos are related in some way. One or two pages could also be a random collection of photos. This is a great way to include a wide variety of snapshots when you are going to be passing the finished calendars out to extended members of your family. Everyone will get a kick out of looking through the individual collages to find themselves and loved ones. Feel free to spice up the photographs with borders and text. Try different media output such as black and white, sepia tone, even try hand coloring a few for a more personalized output.

Next, choose a software program to layout your calendar. Most graphic programs or general programs such as Microsoft Works all have calendar options that include personalization with dates and photographs. Pick a program that you are comfortable working in. If you end up spending an enormous amount of time trying to figure out adding text to the calendar squares, for example, you may end up giving up before you ever really get started. Gather your dates that will be included, and double check dates, even those you think you know. The calendar should be a reliable source of information for those who will receive it. Consider traditional dates such as birthdays and anniversaries, along with special dates such as family reunions. Once everything is typed and printed, attach your photographs to the calendar by using a quality adhesive, unless they were printed digitally and directly to the calendars via your printer. If needed, staple calendars on the fold lines to complete the assembly of each.

Given as gifts, these calendars will be both the highlight of your gift giving and of those fortunate to receive them. Be prepared to redo these calendars each year with updated information and brand new photographs.

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