A Great Christmas Gift: iPhoto Calendars

CalendarIt’s the time of year when — love it or hate it — you need to start thinking about Christmas shopping. If you’re the kind of person who prefers to leave their shopping until Christmas Eve, then by all means skip on to the next post! I prefer to plan ahead and beat some of the mad Christmas rush. Even better than high street shopping, I’ve found that my Mac is capable of producing some fantastic gifts for friends and family.
Today I’ll be briefly showing how easy it is to create a beautiful calendar using iPhoto, complete with all your important dates for the year and some seasonal photography.

Choosing a calendar

Once you’ve opened iPhoto and asked to create a calendar (via the small plus icon in the lower left), you’ll be presented with the following window:

Apple offers a selection of 10 different calendar styles to suit your needs. My favorites are the classic ‘Picture Calendar’, which puts the most emphasis on your photos, and ‘Colored Paper’, with a more relaxed and colorful feel. There are also a few great themes for obligatory events such as a wedding, holiday, or a new baby.
What then follows is a very handy dialogue for automatically adding some useful dates to your calendar:

You’re able to not only create the standard ‘January to December’ calendar, but can start the calendar on any month and have up to 24 months included (obviously for an extra fee!). It is also possible to pre-load your calendar with the national holidays for your country, any birthdays you’ve added to contacts in Address Book, and the events from any other of your iCal calendars. If you have already populated iCal with all the year’s birthdays, holidays, events and work it is a simple procedure to have them all added to your printed calendar without needing to copy them across by hand when it arrives. National holidays are also useful to have added, as the exact dates generally change from year to year.

On to Designing

Now it is a simple case of choosing the color scheme of each page and adding your own photos. To add an image to your calendar, you’ll need to find it in iPhoto and drag it over the calendar name in the left pane. Once you’re editing the calendar project, all the photos you’ve added will be displayed to the left, easily drag-able into the photo placeholders.
For each month, you’re able to select the number of photos you’d like to be displayed, and the color scheme (if the calendar template supports it). iPhoto has an ‘Autoflow’ feature, which will take all the images you’ve added to the calendar project and automatically fill each month of the calendar with a different layout and style. It’s a time saver, but personally I enjoy crafting each month myself!
Once you’ve added a photo to a grey placeholder, clicking it will bring up a menu allowing you to zoom the image in and out, or drag the image to reposition it within the frame. Take care that you don’t zoom in too far, as this can lead to the photo not being of a high enough quality to print. If this problem occurs, iPhoto places a yellow warning sign next to the photo to alert you.
A great tip for sourcing some extra photography to add a seasonal touch (I’m thinking Halloween, Christmas, Easter etc) is to browse through a stock photography site. Having a few photos of friends and family, coupled with a great Christmas scene can look fantastic. A few of note are:

Adding and Editing Events

No doubt there are events you’d like to add to the calendar which were not imported from iCal originally. This can be done by double clicking a date and entering your text. Fonts, colors and sizes can be changed by bringing up the font toolbox (press Command+T). You can also add an image to any given date — great for events and birthdays, and adding a personal touch.

Ordering & Pricing

Once you’ve gone through every month, added your photos and typed in the relevant events, it’s time to upload all that content to Apple and let them start printing your beautifully designed calendar.

Prices of calendars can be found at the iPhoto site. They cost $20, not including P+P, with an extra $1.49 per additional month (over a year). It’s worth keeping an eye open for offers run in relation to calendars — it’s common to have a percentage knocked off around Christmas time, or into the New Year.
Uploading all your photographs and calendar information can take a while, particularly on slower broadband connections, but the process is automatic and you’ll receive an email after the order completes. Delivery takes a couple of weeks, so make sure you plan ahead if you require delivery before the Christmas rush!
If you have any further calendar-related questions, please feel free to ask in the comments. In addition, do let me know if you have any other great Christmas gift ideas which can be ‘Made on a Mac’ — I’m still undecided on what to buy my Grandma…