Monday, February 27, 2012

diy perpetual birthday calendar

Last year I took a class at the Dallas Paper Source with my good friend Sarah and her sister-in-law Richele (highly recommend it as a fun girls evening).  The class was all about reusing materials and making them into something useful.  One of the projects that night was taking pages from the PS oversized wall calendar (here is an image from Real Simple--I can't find a picture on the PS site) and making them into envelopes (right up my alley!) and gift tags.  I loved the paper from the calendar so much that I bought my own oversized calendar (well-reduced by that time--it was April) to use at home.

As I looked at the calendar day after day for the next several months, I had a sense I was going to use it for more than just envelopes . . . You see, it has this handy lined column on the right side of the calendar for jotting notes.  But for some reason, I was leaving that side blank each month.  And all those blank lines kind of spoke to me one day—I realized that they were destined to become a birthday calendar.   And they did.  :)

Making this calendar was easy, and while the Paper Source calendar lends itself really well to this project, it could be done with any oversized paper.  It’s an added bonus if that paper just happens to be already lined!  

If you want all the details and pictures for how to make your own, keep reading . . . I will show you how I made my calendar, and you can adapt the instructions to suit whatever paper you want to use (hopefully in the next two weeks I will post the calendars I have made out of watercolor and bristol paper as well).  If you find that you really want your own PS calendar, you can buy them now for 50% off in-store at Paper Source (unfortunately, they do not appear to be available online).   I made my first birthday calendar out of my 2011 wall calendar but grabbed a 50% off 2012 calendar to use for this tutorial.  

DIY Perpetual Birthday Calendar Tutorial

Supplies used:  
  • Oversized paper (the PS wall calendar measures 24 3/4 x 19 1/4 inches; my finished birthday calendar is roughly 19 inches x 5 inches)
  • Metal ruler, 12 inches or longer
  • Pen, for writing in days of the month (I used a gray Stabilo)
  • Large alphabet stamps, for stamping the month abbreviations (mine are foam stamps from Hobby Lobby, purchased years ago)
  • Small alphabet stamps (mine are from Michaels)
  • Ink pad in color of your choice (I used charcoal in the Color Box brand of chalk ink, because chalk ink dries faster than pigment ink)
  • Bulldog or binder clip for hanging your calendar
*Note:  I am demonstrating with the month of February because that's what month it is, and I like the color . . . and because March (my daughter's and my birthday month) comes next!  

To begin, tear each month, one by one, off the calendar backing.

Since this paper is oversized, it would be difficult to cut it with a paper cutter.  A craft knife is one           option, but I chose to line the paper up against a metal ruler and tear it (this is the technique we used at the Paper Source workshop--nifty trick!).  
This calendar is not meant to be perfect, so a torn edge is just fine.  

Place your ruler to the left of where you want your cut to be.  

Hold the ruler down firmly with your left hand, and carefully lift the top right hand corner of the paper with your right hand.  Gently pull the paper up and towards the ruler to make the tear.  When you get to the bottom of the ruler, stop and reposition it lower on the page to tear the rest of the page.

The lined section is what will be used for the birthday calendar.  

Use the same technique as above to tear off the very top of the paper where the hole-punched hole is.

Do these steps with the rest of the months, and you will have 12 strips of paper for your calendar.  

So colorful!
Once you have each page of your calendar ready, it’s time to write in all the days of the month.  Leave room at the top of the calendar for hanging 
(approximately 1 inch, depending on what you will use to hang the calendar) 
and also for stamping the month’s name 
(approximately 2 to 3 inches, depending on the size of your stamps).  

I started with Day 1 written on line 8.  Remember to give February 29 days!  

I do not know why I stopped writing at 15 before this picture.  Not sure what that demonstrates . . . 
This next step is my favorite part of this calendar and a good reason to use extra long paper.  

Because the birthdays that fall at the beginning of the month always catch me off-guard, I decided to write in the first 7 days of the following month at the bottom of each calendar page.  
So in February I will also be able to see into the first week of March—and keep an eye on
 those sneaky beginning-of-the-month birthdays. (Another solution would be to hang two months at a time next to one another, but I am kind of proud of my idea.)
To make my bottom section, I started at the bottom and counted up, 7-6-5-4-3-2-1.

Now it’s time to stamp the month abbreviations.  Using your large alphabet stamps, stamp the letters towards the top of the page (remembering to leave room at the very top for hanging). 

Using the small alphabet stamps, stamp the following month’s abbreviation 
right above the bottom section’s day number 1.  

Now it’s time to fill in your birthdays (and anniversaries too, if you keep track of those).

Let’s take a closer look at the first week of March . . . hey, look what’s coming up!  

To finish it all off, clamp it together with a clip and hang it in a prominent place in your home—somewhere you will see it daily.   Keep a pen handy for adding in birthdays, anniversaries, 
and other important events as they happen.  

I'm hoping this will help me send out timely birthday wishes this year.  
  I am on a birthday calendar kick now, so you will be seeing a few more versions of this 
in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Do you have a birthday calendar?  How do you keep track of birthdays and special dates?


  1. I LOVE this idea! I was just talking to LB about scheduling a "happy day" trip to PS. Now I actually have something I need there which makes the trip even more necessary!
    Right now, I keep track of all birthdays/anniversaries on my gmail calendar...color coded for: my family, in-laws, and friends/co-workers!

    1. Lisa, I am not surprised you have a detailed and color-coded system for keeping up with these things! :) I cannot depend entirely on a computer calendar, though. For some reason it has to be on paper--and right in front of my face!!

      Glad you like the idea! If only I could join you and LB at Paper Source . . .

  2. I made a version of a birthday calendar a couple years ago, and it's served me well. (When I upgrade, though, I love your version with every day written in, even if it's not someone's birthday. I put mine in date order originally, but then added people and anniversaries months or years later, and they're all out of order now.) I just have it clipped with a couple binder clips and hanging on my bulletin board.

    I make sure to use it by pulling it down the week before the new month starts, grabbing my box of birthday cards, and writing out every birthday or anniversary card at once. Each person gets their own personal note, but I do it all in the space of an hour or so. It takes less time that way, because I don't have to pull out the cards, the calendar, the postage box, and get my husband to sign it every few days, as I would if I wrote them one at a time. Then I decorate the envelopes all at once, add postage, and put little strips of post-it notes on the fronts with the date the card needs to be sent (which is not necessarily the order of the birthdays, depending on how far away each person lives). Since I have a place where mail gathers waiting to be posted, I just put the pile there and grab as needed as the dates go by. I've been doing this for a few months now, after several instances of belated birthday greetings, and it's resulted in on-time birthday wishes for all of 2012 so far. :)

    1. Wow, I am so impressed! You totally have a working system down . . . I am still trying to establish one and feel like the little steps I have taken are a good start, but I LOVE hearing about a real-life up-and-running one! I have never thought to actually write on all the birthday cards at once. That is a really good idea and could definitely help on the time and organization front. THANK YOU for sharing your system--I love it! I have this feeling we need to talk more . . . :)


blog comments are thoughtful . . . :)

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