Personalized calendars are amazing gifts for family members. In fact, every year we give them out to all of the grandparents every Christmas, and feature favorite photos of our family from each month of the previous year. Custom calendars show thought, caring, love and literally last a year or more. (Most printing services offer 12, 18, or even 24 month options.)
But with so many choices out there, how do you choose the best one? Here’s the lowdown on what to expect from the top printing companies, when shopping for an online photo calendar. And for your convenience, there’s also coupon links available for each site. Be sure to use one after you’ve made your choice!
When you choose Shutterfly to create your photo calendar, you’re selecting PC Magazine’s Editor’s Choice for custom photo products, as well as my own personal favorite. They offer unrivaled quality at an affordable price, which I think is worth the extra couple of dollars over Snapfish. Most of the time they run promotions that can save you up to 50% on your order total.
You can choose either 12 or 18 month, and each month has it’s own background based on the theme you choose. You can add up to 16 photos per month for a collage inspired theme and never miss a single memory. Organize your photos on their site for easy access, and then use their simple design tool to put together an impressive final product. Their “preview” step helps you get an online proof of what your calendar will look like, eliminating most errors before going to print.
By far the most creative of these options. Here are the types, and sizes of calendars available:
- wall calendars (8×11″ and 12×12″)
- calendar posters (16×20″ or 20×30″)
- desk calendars
This is my go-to choice around the holidays, and the quality of the Shutterfly calendars blows the grandparents away! In my view, they win the title for, “best photo calendars online” hands down. Also, Tiny Prints is the sister-site of Shutterfly, so if you need invitations or announcements of any kind, check them out at TinyPrints.com.
Like Shutterfly, Snapfish doubles as both a photo printing and photo sharing site; and both sites offer monthly coupons for significant discounts. You can easily pull photos from your computer, or from sites like Facebook. Their prices are very reasonable, and the quality is second only to Shutterfly, or possibly Mixbook. They offer:
- Wall calendars (8.5×11, 12×12, or 11×14″)
- Desk Calendars (w/ sturdy paper or faux leather stand)
- Specialty Calendars (11×16, 5×11.5, or collage poster calendars in 5 sizes)
Bound with sturdy spiral binding, they have a good selection of sizes and styles; many available in either 12 or 18 month. Personalize any date with photos and text to remember birthdays and special events.
One added bonus with using Snapfish is the ability to pick up your finished calendar at one of their partnering stores (Walmart, Walgreen’s & Meijer’s), to save on the shipping fee.
You can’t have a conversation about the best personalized calendar printing online without mentioning Mixbook. In my opinion they rival Shutterfly for the best online editing tools, and they have a good selection of design templates (which can be further tweaked) from clean and sleek to childish. When you start a project, Mixbook opens a full screen window, which gives you maximum workspace. Their quality is high, and comes in right between Shutterfly and Snapfish.
Besides adding your own photos, you can move images forward or backwards, resize, color-correct.
Even though it looks like you’re saving a couple of bucks over Shutterfly and Snapfish, note that their shipping charges can run you more; for my order it was about $9 for one calendar. My calendar did arrive a lot quicker than their 9-day estimate though.
Before factoring in coupons, Vistaprint is definitely the cheapest option. If they do have a site-wide promotion of any kind going on, (or free shipping) then they retain that title. Currently, their 50% off promotion brings the price of their popular wall calendars down to about $8 each. (that’s cheap!) They also have a wide variety of custom printed / personalized calendars including:
- Wall calendars – Customize each month with your favorite photo, and add text to special dates
- Poster calendars – From $5 each. Good marketing tool; add your logo or photos
- Desk calendars – Just like mini versions of the “wall” variety, but for your desk
- Pocket calendars – About the same size as a business card
- Magnet calendars – Turn customers into repeat customers all year long! From under $1 each.
I see Vistaprint as the no-frills, good quality, least expensive option for personalized calendars. Although not as fancy as Shutterfly (in my opinion), they still offer 100’s of designs to choose from. Saving a few bucks on each calendar becomes significant if you’re having them printed as gifts. Like the other top printing services, you can personalize individual dates, (don’t forget another anniversary or birthday!) and start your calendar year on the month of your choice.
If you are a do-it-yourself personality, or are printing small business calendars, than Overnight Prints might be worth considering.
Like Vistaprint.com, they take a no-frills approach to the design experience, and you can drag and drop your photos onto the screen for each month. Don’t look for page backgrounds or stylish templates though. They also don’t offer a myriad of size options. Actually, as someone who is very concerned about the environment, they also have the most eco-friendly printing process, which conserves water and and reduces pollution.
Printing calendars for your business? You can consider these printing services too. Remember, small business calendars usually require a minimum of 25 pieces, even for a short run.
- Printplace – View business calendars | view coupons
Price: for 8.5×11″ wall calendar: $18.25, but you must buy 25+
If you are looking to print calendars for the Grandparents, PrintPlace isn’t for you. They are, however, a great option for your small business. All calendar orders of 250 pieces or more are printed offset, and they have 5 size options. Hole-drilling or tabs will cost you extra, and they also offer layout services for an extra cost as well.
- PsPrint – View calendars | View coupons
Price: $21 each, but you must buy 25+
Just like PrintPlace, PsPrint is a good option for small business printing. They can do short runs of as few as 25 calendars (digital printing) and offset printing starts at quantities of 250 or more. Businesses also enjoy their multiple size, binding, and drilling options.
- 123Print – Small business calendars | View coupons
Price: From under $3 each, but not with your own photos
123Print specializes in calendars and planners for small business marketing that have your business name prined on each one. For example, if you own an auto body shop, it might make sense to have 100 of their “Muscle Car” calendars printed with your business details. Or, maybe if you are a veterinarian, you could do the same for your customers, but use their “cats and dogs” calendar.
One last thing to consider are the dreaded shipping fees. If you’re ordering custom calendars, plan on at least $6 for shipping. This is a little salty when you just want one, so consider ordering two or more, and giving at least one away as a gift.
From what I can tell, Mixbook is guilty of having the highest shipping cost, coming in around $9. Several of these discount printing services offer seasonal free shipping promotions, which can save you up to 30% on your total order.
As you can see, there is a lot of competition for your business in this space. I can’t imagine how many millions of personalized photo calendars get printed in December, and that’s also when you’re going to see the best coupons and deals. Also, most people only think of printing photo calendars for Christmas, but they are a great gift or marketing tool year-round, and most printing companies let you start with any month.