Every year since 1994, we have given the exact same gift to our extended families for Christmas: a family calendar. This isn’t just any calendar. It’s one that we make. Our homemade Christmas gift tradition is a family calendar that we still make the old fashioned way with pictures, scissors, and yes, double-sided tape. We set aside a weekend in October to make the collages and we just finished our 2013 calendar. With family spread across the country as well as other countries, this gift is a wonderful way for us to stay connected no matter where family lives.
Homemade Gifts: Family Calendar
The reason we came up with making our homemade Christmas gift was we wanted something that didn’t come from a store, had sentimental value, and could be shared or transported easily. It’s also gotten much easier to make this gift since our kids got in on the act of calendar making!
The best part in making this homemade Christmas gift is going through all of the pictures people have sent us over the year. It’s also fun to go through old photographs and have our kids ask, “Who is that?” when it’s their dad or me or one of their crazy uncles. Another favorite is the, “Mom, did you really wear your hair like that?” Of course the answer is yes, it was the ‘80s!
Both my husband and I come from large families so trying to get each person (or their spouses or their kids) on every page can be challenging. I send an email out to family members in the summer to ask them to send us pictures. Digital pictures have made this easier. Prints can be ordered from anywhere and then mailed to our home for the big family calendar day.
Previously, by this I mean before the year 2000 (or Y2K), I used software specifically for calendars. It didn’t survive the change over so I had to switch to another software package which was fine but it wasn’t very user friendly. Or was it that I couldn’t remember how to use it properly? Either way, last year, I switched over to using Google calendar for our family calendar software and simply print them on our printer. I have a separate family calendars (his, hers and ours) so that my extended family doesn’t get his and visa versa.
We include birthdays and anniversaries so that everyone is in “the know” about important dates. I can also share the online version of the calendar with family members who would like all of the dates. Our calendar, which hangs on our refrigerator, combines the two and includes both extended families.
We make a picture collages (one for each month) and then have color copies printed. I made a template which we use as a guide for the collages. It’s very low tech and measures an inch in on every side, except on the bottom, which is about 1 1/2 inches so that there’s plenty of room for the binding.
Next, we take the copies of the calendars and the color picture collage pages and collate them together. We then use the hand crack binding machine at the stationary store in our neighborhood.
The finished product.
Even though everyone knows they’re receiving a homemade Christmas gift and it’s the same one every single year (with different pictures), our families always looks forward to it (at least that’s what they tell us!).
It’s one of my favorite gifts to give, we have fun putting it together, relatives are pleasantly surprised by what vintage photos of them show up and they’re easy to mail, too.
Do you have a homemade family gift tradition? What is it?
Go Gingham related links:
Kid’s birthday party gifts that are budget friendly and very sweet
Frugal gift ideas for teachers – lovely and homemade
How to handle the group gift for teachers – bowing out gracefully
Frugal and easy gifts to give – very easy
Frugal and green wedding gifts – simple gifts with an upgrade element, too
Wrapping paper alternatives – old maps!
Displaying holiday cards – don’t put them away, just leave them out to enjoy
I really liked this from Amy of Frugal Mama – 7 tips for holiday giving while still being generous.