Every year my mom's side of the family gets together at Thanksgiving at my aunt's house in Oklahoma. My mom is the oldest of 10 kids and I am one of 36 cousins. Now that some of my cousins are grandparents, our family is up to 165 people. (We just counted, with the help of the project I am about to tell you about.) Thanksgiving is when the aunts exchange Christmas gifts and when the cousins, wives of male cousins, cousins' daughters, etc. do our gift exchange. (It's a girl thing. The boys don't come anywhere near.) Thanksgiving is also the best time to distribute calendars.
In addition to my vintage ornament Christmas wreath, the other project that I had to complete before Thanksgiving was my 2009 family calendar. I created my first calendar in 2003 for the 2004 calendar year. Since I had already been accumulating names and birthdates for a family tree, I had most of what I needed to make a calendar that had birthdays of all the family members. Each month has some sort of family photo on the page, as does the calendar cover.
I use Calendar Creator software. I entered the birthdays the first year and now each year I only need to add new babies, new spouses, etc. The one problem with the software is that it doesn't handle having more than two events on the same date. Since I also show holidays on the calendar, June usually creates some problems for me. There are a couple birthdays on the same date in June that often fall on Father's Day or the beginning of summer. When there are three events on a single date, I need to manually add some text boxes to show the birthdays and holidays. I can control the spacing of text boxes, but I can't control the spacing of the events that the software shows automatically. But that's really the worst part of the process. Everything else is pretty easy to use.
Here is my calendar for 2009. This is a wedding picture of my Grandma and Grandpa, who are no longer living, on the cover.
Here is a sample page of my calendar. Every year, we take a cousin picture. This is the cousin picture we took on Thanksgiving in 2007. The other pages of the calendar show other shots I took at Thanksgiving 2007. One year, I accumulated photos from all families and tried to get every person in the family on the calendar. One year, I used only old photos of great-grandparents, photos of the farm where my grandparents used to live, old cars...all old pictures. One year I collected as many pictures I could of family members when they were either babies or very young and made the calendar into a guessing game of name that baby. That was a fun year's calendar, too.
I used to do my calendars in black and white. I started having them printed by Kinko's, then found a printing shop that was very reasonably priced. I have 35 calendars made every year and in black and white, they used to cost just under $5 apiece. I couldn't find anywhere I could have a color calendar done for less than about $20. But last year, I discovered that the UPS Store near me had a sale on color copies every October for 35 cents each. With the binding, printing and assembly, I could have the calendars done for just under $10 each. I put out my box of calendars at my aunt's house along with an envelope for money and the calendars just kind of sell themselves now. Last year, no one minded the price going up from $5 to $10 because the color calendars look much nicer than the b&w ones did.
And I just started a family blog, open to family members only. I'm hoping to accumulate photos from people via the blog for next year's calendar and try to do another one that has as many family members pictured as possible. Since only 93 of the 165 were present at Thanksgiving this year, hopefully we can round up photos that will include more than 93 people! Check back next year for an update on the 2010 calendar!