This past holiday season, I decided to make calendars for my family. Mixbook provided me with two complimentary large landscape calendars and I purchased Groupons for savings on the rest. I made two different versions of the calendar, one for my side of the family and one for my husband’s side. I also tried out the calendars in two different sizes. The 11 x 8.5 is $19.99 and the 14 x 11 is $34.99 (also available in other themes is the square format for $29.99). You can see the difference in size from my comparison photos.
The main photos I used were the same for both versions, but the birthdays and other events were different. Since my main pages (the top page of the spread) were going to be the same, I completed one whole calendar, duplicated the project and then just changed out the birthdays and added the details from there. There were several unique and good looking calendar themes that I looked at, but in the end, I went with the blank canvas and made mine from scratch. That doesn’t mean that I had to make the whole calendar from scratch (meaning the actual month pages), I just didn’t pick a theme so I could customize all the photo layouts and design myself.
I barely utilized how much customization I could have done to the calendars, as I had to stop myself from “playing” for too long. As I used the software, I learned more about what I could do with the design by the time I was creating the second calendar, so that one had a lot more clip art, including some cute embellishments I found for free on a few digital scrapbooking sites. What’s unique about Mixbook is the ability to upload your own clip art and embellishments, though there is plenty of free clip art within the program already, so it’s not necessary unless you have something special you want to use. I was surprised that I could liberally add elements to any part of the page and I was not limited to staying within the calendar grid (see the hearts I added at the bottom of February). The flexibility of the software is one of its biggest pluses and works the same as the software you can use to make custom cards and photos books as well. For those who are familiar with traditional scrapbooking, out of all the software I’ve tried, Mixbook has the most “digital scrapbooking” type tools and the most free high quality clip art I’ve encountered thus far. For those who find themselves working on more than one computer, it is really convenient that the software resides online. You just upload your photos once and then you can work on your project wherever you can get an internet connection.
Another nice feature is that you can start from any month of the year and do 12 months from that point on. So, if I were making mine now, I could start with February 1 and it would go through February of 2013.
Entering an event is easy. There’s a chart that pops up and you can type in the event and date. Popular holidays are pre-entered and you can select whichever holidays you wish to appear by checking a box. It’s easier to check the top box assuming you want most holidays in there and then uncheck the few that you don’t want. Clicking on “Update Calendar” automatically populates the events and holidays so you can focus on making your pages look nice.
When I received the calendars, I was happy to see the photos I’d selected printed very clearly and the color reproduced faithfully. Most were my favorite landscape photos with a focus on nature – a topic I figured would have universal appeal (I did personalize each with a collage of family photos on the back of the calendar.) The cardstock is of good sturdy weight and I found the calendars well constructed. I was very excited to give them to my family over the Chinese New Year (Yes, I got started on them later than I’d hoped), and watched them marvel at how photos of themselves appeared on their birthdays. Until they started to flip through it, they didn’t realize it wasn’t store-bought. The personalized aspect is what they were most excited about. Only problem now is they expect one every year going forward! Mixbook makes that easy by saving all the custom dates you entered – a clever business move to encourage repeat customers I’m sure…
The $15.00 Mixbook Groupon which has been available fairly often as of late, will buy you two 11 x 8.5 calendars and you’ll still have $10 of credit to play with, all for $15.00! (The Groupon provides you $50.00 worth of credit for $15.00 – 70% off savings.) (I used the balance to make a few Valentine’s cards featuring Photo Book Baby to give to the family and a customized wedding card for my dear friend getting married this month.) You could also opt instead for one large calendar and one standard size if you put in an extra $5.00. (These do not include shipping costs.) These would make lovely Valentine’s gifts (remember you can start your calendar with any month you choose). Why not create a theme each month around something you love about that person (i.e. I love your cooking! I love your smile! I love your little toes! etc.)
Have a great weekend!