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Personalized Photo Calendars for 2021: A Perfect Holiday Gift

Are you struggling to think of the perfect gift for that one person that’s always on the go? Perhaps you might want to consider purchasing some personalized photo calendars to ring in the new year! These gifts are perfect – sentimental, yet practical. Not only that, there are options that are often low-cost (meaning you won’t have to shell out too much cash).

But, since so many printing companies offer photo calendars, you might be wondering which calendar to buy. Unfortunately, not every calendar is created equally. There are some major discrepancies in print quality, style, and price between individual printers.

So, where does a person start their search?

We took the time to research some of the most talked-about photo calendar printers to see what they had to offer. Listed below are a few promising prospects, which we’ve personally photographed and reviewed for your convenience.

1. Shutterfly Desk Calendar

One of the most affordable calendars available on today’s list
Compact alternative to traditional wall calendars. Great for offices, kitchen counters, or other areas with limited space
Poor overall design with limited room for change outside of pre-existing templates
Subpar print quality when compared to other Shutterfly products

A popular choice among online print retailers, Shutterfly was one of the first companies around to offer personalized photo calendars. But longevity alone isn’t enough to claim the top spot in the hearts of customers. So, how does its product stack up against competitors?

At $14.99 each, the Shutterfly desk calendar is one of the least expensive products featured in today’s article. Unfortunately, it doesn’t deliver as much as I had hoped.

For starters, using Shutterstock’s design wizard was both complex and restrictive. No matter what I did, my print preview always looked a little clunky and misaligned. Unfortunately, it just lacked the professional polished touch I was hoping for.

In the past, I’ve been quite satisfied with many of Shutterfly’s prints. However, the images I chose for my print calendar seemed to have degraded somewhere during the print process. It could have been a lot worse, but I found myself disappointed with the results all the same.

It is worth noting, however, that other customers seem to have had an entirely different experience. In fact, Shutterfly was ranked as the best photo calendar of 2018 by Tom’s Guide. Maybe my calendar was just a fluke.

I will say this – overall, the desk calendar was passable and might be a good choice for casual photographers looking to get creative with their shots. However, based on my experience, there wasn’t much else to write home about outside of an affordable price tag.

2. Mixbook Wall Calendar

Beautiful prints sport vibrant, striking colors
Mixbook works well with small files when necessary
Significantly more expensive than similar wall calendar products
Not much room for customization in terms of sizing and style

As it turns out, despite a misleading name, Mixbook is capable of much more than binding books. Admittedly, I was initially skeptical about placing an order. However, review after review that I read ranked Mixbook among the top personalized photo calendar providers. So, I decided to set my preconceived notions aside and give them a shot.

As it turns out, my doubts were unfounded and the positive hype was warranted. The wall calendar that arrived at my doorstep was breathtaking.

Related Post: Mixbook Custom Wall Calendar Detailed Review

Despite the fact that I didn’t forward particularly large JPEGs to Mixbook, each of my photographs looked crisp and beautiful. The colors were striking and true to the original file without being overly saturated. For those points alone, anyone seeking out a personalized photo calendar should consider Mixbook.

I only have two negative comments to make about this particular product. Firstly, the calendar lacks creative flair. Outside of choosing between square or landscape orientation, much of the design is left outside of customer’s hands.

On top of that, the price is a little much. At $29.99 (not including taxes and shipping), it’s easy to find similar calendars for a fraction of the cost. Those on a tight budget will likely fare better elsewhere.

That said, if money isn’t a concern in this equation, Mixbook won’t let you down. And, given that it’s the holiday season, finding the right coupon might slice the price!

Related Post: Best Photo Books Compared

3. Minted Hanging Calendar

Designs created by independent artists
Provides a unique, eye-catching display
Excellent print quality, uses durable yet attractive materials
Not much room to display multiple photographs (though this may have changed with more recent calendar iterations)
Despite having gorgeous templates, almost no room for custom designs

Minted doesn’t have quite as large of a following as some of the other names featured on today’s list. However, this small operation has gained traction among professionals looking for high-quality prints. What does their hanging calendar have to offer?

Unlike Shutterfly and Mixbook, Minted’s business model doesn’t rely on churning out photographic prints. Instead, the site’s mission is to provide a platform for attractive art and home decor produced by individual artists. Considering the company’s differences from other vendors, I was curious to see how they would handle my images.

Related Post: Best Canvas Photo Printers Compared

To my surprise, Minted did a better job of replicating my images than some of the “expert” print shops I’ve patronized in the past. Despite using matte paper, the tonality of my images was beautifully preserved. It completely lacked the washed-out look that sometimes occurs when straying away from lusters and glosses.

Crafted by an actual designer, the typography and composition of my calendar was spot on from the start. I spent very little time making adjustments, as everything already looked amazing.

The downsides? If you want a themed, truly personal calendar, their templates might not satisfy you. What’s more, the calendar template I settled on had just two image slots available. Though it seems that the site has since added some more traditional 12-image wall calendars, potential customers may want to go in prepared to cull down their image selection.

At $22.00, some might consider Minted’s minimalist hanging photo calendar to come at a steep price. However, its lovely presentation was enough to make it a clear-cut favorite straight away. Clearly made with care and attention to detail, it’s a product that you’ll feel proud year-round to have hanging in your home.

4. Picaboo Wall Calendar

When trying to come up with some other options for personalized photo calendars, I remembered that a friend of mine once recommended Picaboo. On a whim, I decided to see what they had to offer.

I can’t say that there was a wide assortment of options to choose from. Available at 11″x9″ or 14″x11″, the hanging calendar patterns were boring compared to some of the exciting options offered by competitors. However, the folks at Picaboo left a little more room to play around with the interior design of their calendars.

Once you work past the site’s clumsy UI, you’ll find that Picaboo calendars actually allow a lot of freedom in how you choose to showcase your images. You can even add embellishments, stickers, and specific notes and captions to really personalize your work.

After a long wait for my calendar, the package finally arrived at my door nearly 2 weeks after I placed my order. Unfortunately, the product I unboxed left me feeling disappointed.

Right off the bat, I noticed some serious issues with calendar color. Many images had a purple-magenta tint to them that was impossible to unsee.

What’s more, the materials themselves felt cheap. Combined with design flaws as simple as disallowing full-bleed images, Picaboo left a bad impression, so much so that I won’t be using them again. That said, if you’re okay with the print quality, the customizable nature of this calendar could make it the best photo calendar for you.

5. Snapfish Wood Block Desk Calendar 

Handsome, stylish appearance that avoids being obtrusive
More hands-on design options – changing fonts, adjust text/image placement, and switching between layouts is made easy
More expensive than the Shutterstock’s desk calendar, Snapfish’s primary competitor
Doesn’t lend much room for customers to mark or write on calendars.

In many scenatios, Snapfish is pitted head to head against Shutterfly because of their similar business models. However, when it comes to their personalized photo desk calendars, Snapfish has a clear-cut advantage.

Diverting from the typical desktop designs, Snapfish uses a wood block to hold cardstock prints vertically. Without taking up much room, the display is eye-catching and elegant without detracting from the product’s purpose.

Snapfish offers a number of attractive layouts that may be instantly applied to orders. In particular, I was pleased to see Snapfish’s lack of gimmicky themes, which seem to be run amok among the presets provided by similar services. Better yet, the design I ultimately chose looked just as good in print as it did online.

Speaking of which, the photographs featured on my woodblock desk calendar turned out beautifully. I chose to unify the images in this collection with one of Snapfish’s provided filters, which proved not to be too overbearing or distracting. In fact, I feel that they may have made my prints a bit stronger by adding a bit of a contrast boost.

The biggest drawback concerning the woodblock calendar boils down to price. Compared to other traditional desk calendars, Snapfish comes at a significantly higher price. For those working on a tight budget, the difference might be significant enough to make seeking out an alternative worthwhile.

That being said, the quality and care placed into this calendar make it worthy of consideration regardless of the price tag.

6. Walgreens Poster Calendar

Same day pickup available at your local brick and mortar Walgreens
Crafting a calendar takes just a few minutes to accomplish
Options to print larger than the average hanging wall calendar
Not much room to deviate from the existing design layout
Does not offer the same amount of care or protection for prints that a more photo-oriented service would.

Walgreens isn’t the name that comes to mind when contemplating professional photo printing. However, you may be pleasantly surprised by the results you end up with.

The greatest draw to Walgreen’s print store isn’t too difficult to figure out. The locations are convenient and abundant. Using their online portal, you can send your print to the location nearest to you and pick it up in 24-hours. For all of the last-minute shoppers out there, the speedy service will come as a godsend.

However, convenience isn’t the only thing that Walgreens has going for it. Their print quality is actually quite good, with no signs of artifacts or pixelation present in my test print. A bright luster finish further works to bring out the colors and tones of each image.

That being said, there are a few sacrifices that you have to make when choosing Walgreens. For me, a major detractor was the minimal room left over on the poster for the actual calendar.

What’s more, you’re not going to get the same care or attention to detail with your product that you would get with a more specialized service.

Be aware that, by nature, using a service like Walgreens leaves you more vulnerable to creases and kinks. Print malfunctions and other mishaps happen, which could leave your creation in poor shape and you high and dry.

7. Vistaprint Mini Wall Calendar

Wall calendar comes in a unique miniature size that other vendors generally cannot offer
Serious discounts available for customers buying in bulk
Vistaprint’s calendars are among the most affordable, frequently priced below $10.
Vistaprint is pushy in terms of selling more products and sending additional follow up emails – can be annoying to deal with as a customer
Prints at a fairly low resolution (150DPI), which could lead to potential image quality issues.

With this being my first experience working with Vistaprint, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Sure, I’d considered using them for business cards in the past. But could they really produce good personalized photo calendars, as well?

The first thing that stood out to me upon customizing my calendar was the incredible price. Though they only had three sizes to choose from, all of them were quite affordable compared to competitors. I ultimately ended up ordering an adorable 6.5″ x 8.5″ for just shy of $8 before shipping fees.

There wasn’t a whole lot of leeway as far as designing the layout went, but inserting my images was easy enough. Compared to some of the clunky editing wizards I’ve dealt with in the past, the intuitive UI was a much welcome surprise.

As far as the final product goes, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality I received. The luster paper used did a nice job of making the colors and tones of my shots stand out.

I wouldn’t say that Vistaprint’s photos were out of this world, but considering the price and product, I was pretty impressed. Factoring in how easy it is to actually create your calendar, ordering through Vistaprint is a no-brainer.

One word of warning when ordering – watch out for add ons that the site will try to tack on to your purchase. If you’re not careful, you’ll fall into the annoying trap of subscribing to an endless barrage of emails.

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8. Artifact Uprising Walnut Desktop Calendar

Artifact Uprising has a reputation for high quality printing, and they did not disappoint with their custom photo calendar gifts. 

At first, it might seem easy to turn your cheek and discount this calendar. Compared to other vendors, it’s pricy (my order cost about $30). What’s more, it doesn’t offer a ton in terms of customization. But the clean design and outstanding presentation make this the perfect gift to ring in a new year with.

While desktop photo calendars are far from a foreign concept, AU utilizes a very unique design and thoughtfully sourced materials for their product. Each order comes with an upright clipboard made from reclaimed waste wood. 

Each individual page is printed on Mohawk superfine eggshell archival acid-free paper (say that three times fast!) and looks amazing. Despite being a matte paper, it sports a great range of color and tones. If you really like the look, you can even order new calendar inserts year after year for a discounted price!

I really only have one small complaint. The clip that holds the pages in place will inevitably cover a small part of your image. Be sure to keep this in mind when selecting images to order!

9. Nations Photo Lab Desk Calendar

Sleek design, excellent choice of paper
Perfect desktop size – won’t get in your way, but spacious enough to write on
Worth considering if you need to order more than one calendar copy
Deceptive price tag – will likely cost more than expected, especially on individual orders
Dark tones are easily muddled in the print process

Nations Photo Lab is a solid option if you’re looking for something sweet and straightforward for the coming new year. Overall, it’s got a lot to offer, despite having a few flaws. 

Initially, the attractive desk calendar caught my eye for its price point – advertised as costing $14.95, it seemed too good to be true. Unfortunately, there was in fact a catch to the deal. On an individual scale, calendars actually cost bout $10 more than advertised, with the lower price point only available to those buying in bulk. However, the allure of savings drew me into a product that I ultimately ended up being quite happy with. 

There’s some (but not a lot of) room for design customization, but frankly, this product doesn’t really need alterations.  Though the calendar elements don’t overpower the image, Nations leaves plenty of room for customers to write on or mark up their purchase. Landscape and portrait orientations alike are extremely attractive.

Each calendar page is printed on a thick, toothy paper. On one hand, this gives images a beautiful texture. However, shadows and dark tones definitely appear muted on this matte surface. For best results, be sure to choose light, contrasty images – otherwise, you may lose some valuable detail in your print.

In style, price, and quality, this Nations calendar is very similar to the Snapfish desk calendar I cited earlier. One aspect that sets it apart was a surprisingly speedy delivery. While the difference might not normally make much of a difference, Nation’s efficiency can make all the difference during a hectic holiday season.

10. Printique Desktop Flip Calendar

Great balance of affordable price and attractive display
Drag and drop format is easy to use and highly customizable
Does an excellent job at dealing with smaller smartphone files
Much longer than average production and delivery times

Last but not least, we want to take a moment to talk about Printique. Their prints have impressed us in the past, and their photo calendar is no exception. 

Cute and compact, the flip calendar I ordered measures just 3.74×8.27” (although there is a slightly larger size available). But don’t let the small size fool you. With striking prints on Canon HD Luster paper and plenty of customizable features, this makes for a meaningful little gift.

Printique’s drag and drop design makes it very easy to create your own photo calendar from scratch. The site provides a number of different templates to choose between, and you’re free to play around with fonts, colors, and alignments as much as you’d like. If you really want to get detailed, you can even measure the pixels/inches between individual calendar elements. 

Customers may choose any month they’d like to start off a 12- or 18-month calendar. In addition, users may specify important dates to highlight (such as birthdays or national holidays) before sending their calendar off to the printer.

After shipping and taxes, this calendar costs just under $20 and feels like a bargain. However, if you have a little extra room in the budget, you may want to spring for priority shipping. While Printique generally gets its products out quickly, the calendar took almost two weeks to arrive after placing my initial order. 

Final Verdict

When push comes to shove, all of these options are popular for a reason. None of the options we’ve gone over today are totally free of faults. With that being said, here are some we’ve drawn the following conclusions to help you with your 2020 personalized photo calendar search:

  • If you’re restricted to a tight budget, Shutterfly is a solid choice to stick by. At just $14.99 per desk calendar, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an option that’s more price friendly. Vistaprint also offers affordable prices and frequent promotional sales.
  • Those interested in getting the best image quality possible are likely to gravitate toward Mixbook. Despite their reputation as an on-demand photo book publisher, there’s much more to them beyond books. The printers do an excellent job of retaining image quality, showing off images prominently and proudly. Artifact Uprising also provides customers with some excellent looking images on high-quality photo paper.
  • For those seeking something a little bit outside the box that demands attention, Minted is a clear-cut winner. With innovative designs available in a variety of styles, they have something to suit just about any taste. Artifact Uprising also demands attention with its unique wood clip base.
  • If you’re working on a time crunch, head over to Walgreens. Their results are decent, and with same-day pick-up available, the turnaround can’t be beaten.
  • When there’s not much space to work with, the compact options available through Vistaprint, Printique, Nations, and Snapfish may be able to accommodate. Their unique size and style options make them well suited for a tight spot.
  • In theory, Picaboo offers a balanced option. The prices are reasonable, formats are simple, and the designs aren’t too flashy, making it an easy choice for a no-nonsense calendar. However, based on the execution, I really can’t recommend their product in good faith.

Have you ordered a calendar from any of our top picks? Did we miss your favorite vendor? Share your experience with us in the comments!

Author

  • Meghan is an artist and writer based out of Boston, MA. With an interest in everything from instant film to experimental videography, her work has been featured internationally in a variety of photographic exhibitions and publications. As a regular contributor, she uses her broad background in fine art and varied professional experiences to inform her articles.

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