Print Plan: Getting Creative with Custom Calendars

Print Plan: Getting Creative with Custom Calendars

Planning for the year ahead is essential for any business owner or marketing professional. And the tool to help accomplish this? Custom calendars. No matter how many devices we have at our disposal, those digital days can’t compare to the real thing. Whether you need to manage fiscal milestones or remember family birthdays, promote personal artistry or boost brand awareness, calendar printing puts time on your side. We’ve compiled some design tips to consider as you create your own custom calendar.

A custom wall calendar with a saddle stitch binding open to a nature scene of trees by a lake.

80# Coated Gloss White Cover with 100# Text Coated Gloss White Interior Pages, 3/16″ Drill Hole for Hanging, 12 x 9″

Saddle Stitch Calendars

When you think calendars, you think Saddle Stitch. The ones where the pages are stapled through the fold line? That’s them. These classic wall calendars hang flat so your design is uninterrupted, bleeding from one page to the next.


That seamless composition was an important feature for photographer Chris Murray and his Language of Trees calendars that feature tranquil scenic landscapes.


“I like the idea that a photograph is displayed for an entire month, which gives the viewer plenty of time to absorb and contemplate the photograph,” Murray said. “I think everyone finds beauty and solace in nature [and] a good landscape photograph can transport someone to that place – an escape from the rigors of daily life.”

Wall calendars laying open in four rows with custom imagery.

100# Coated Gloss White Cover with 100# Text Coated Gloss White Interior Pages, 3/16″ Drill Hole for Hanging, 11 x 8.5″

A custom wall calendar laying open with Travail Collective 2020 Sexy Chef Calendar and a Stranger Things-themed design.


Branding was a major marketing aspect for Sarah Julson, Layout Designer for Travail Kitchen in Robbinsdale, MN. With its adventurous humor and pop culture references, her annual Sexy Chef Calendar shines a light on the eatery’s personality.


“The project has always been a way to let loose, to strengthen the brand and connect with our audiences beyond their time spent in our physical spaces,” Julson said. “[It] usually pushes some boundaries, so people get a good laugh [and] can talk about [it] with our employees as a sort of shared experience.”


Design Tip: Online printing with Smartpress means you have calendar templates to get you started or the freedom to customize an unexpected grid for each. You can even forgo lines altogether and make the date grid part of your overall brand and presentation.

Four tiered custom calendars with spiral bindings and illustrations of dogs.

130# Uncoated Smooth Cover throughout, Drill Hole for Hanging, 5.5 x 8.5″, 3.16″

A personalized calendar printed with a black wire coil binding and pages in pink, green and blue.

A custom calendar printed with twenty twenty on the cover and a wire coil binding and hanger.

130# Uncoated Smooth Cover Throughout, Wire Hanger, 5.5 x 8.5″

Coil Bound Calendars

At the corner of practical marketing tool and personal time manager, you’ll find Spiral Coil and Wire Coil Calendars. While spiral bound calendars feature a sturdy plastic coil that allows the pages to fully rotate, wire bound (or wire-o) calendars let the pages turn around a refined metal wire, resulting in a sophisticated look.


For artist Julia Mason, a polished and professional look was exactly what she needed for her 2021 calendar featuring parks, landmarks and neighborhoods of Omaha, NE. “Every year I create a calendar that includes my most recent compositions,” Mason said. “I like to give [them] as gifts to family members and colleagues and also sell them at makers markets and on my website.”


Exploring all Smartpress’ online printing services have to offer, Mason gravitated especially toward our premium paper stock options, taking full advantage of our free Paper Sample Book.


Custom calendars with saddle stitch bindings laying open with illustrations of neighborhoods in Omaha, Nebraska.


“I’m most impressed by the paper quality,” Mason said. “It’s what drew me in from the beginning. [It’s] pretty, colorful and feels luxurious.” That feel translates to capital for her and simple enjoyment for her customers, noting, “People enjoy flipping through tangible pages.”


Featuring your own photography like Murray and artwork like Mason is easy with our customizing options. Experiment with layouts and sizes or try adding extra photos or designs between months to show off more images; turn something practical into something collectible.


Design Tip: On each product page, we provide a calendar layout guide you can download as a template and input your images via InDesign. This provides you the proper layout and a good starting point for designing your calendar.

Rows of wire coil calendars standing in line with a yellow, white and black design.

100# Text Uncoated Smooth White Pages, 8 x 3.5″

Custom wire bound calendars printed with Hipster Animals on the front lined up in two rows.

100# Text Uncoated Smooth White Pages, 8 x 3.5″

Desk Calendars

With a wire coil binding and pop-up base, custom Desk Calendars make it easy to stay top-of-mind with customers, clients, even family members. They’re conveniently referenced atop tables, counters and more. Being present and relevant in someone’s home or work environment was an idea Julson wanted to capitalize on.


“As a brand, it’s a great way to extend yourself into people’s spaces and everyday lives beyond your daily services,” Julson said. “People identify with their favorite local brands and find pride in supporting them, so a calendar is a great way to honor that.”

Customize your desk calendar layout with pages of varying lengths. Available with a Custom Quote, this creates a layered peek-a-boo design that’s both eye-catching and engaging.


“Smartpress helped us create a product that felt high quality,” Julson said. “They helped us choose the proper materials and finishing options for the job to make the custom design really shine through printing.”


Design Tip: If you’re not a designer or do not use InDesign, you can use our Layout Services team to help you build your calendar. Simply add Layout Services to your order and we’ll reach out to you.

A custom calendar magnet with the bottom left corner curled up and images of succulents for each month.

12mil with Flat Matte U/V Coating, 5 x 7″

Magnet Calendars

If you really want to become part of your customers’ (or potential customers’) everyday lives, print custom Magnet Calendars. Whether stuck to home refrigerators or office filing cabinets, calendar magnets let you feature a central logo or your contact information, along with months of your choosing.


However you design yours, keep it simple. You want the calendar to be easily scannable since the whole year’s offered on one side. You can create more space with a magnet that spans just the school year, seasonal sports, important milestones or company events.


Design Tip: As you dive into fonts, choose one that’s clearly legible. And for layouts, build one that avoids clutter. Simplicity is key for this type of calendar.

Three stacks of custom wall calendars with a saddle stitch binding shrink wrapped.

Shrink wrapped in bundles of five.

A stack of wall calendars with The Language of Trees on the cover and shrink wrapped for retail.

Individually shrink wrapped with chipboard, one piece per bundle.

Inspiration & Distribution


  • Calendars let you compile and showcase your work in one sellable product that customers and clients can reference year-round.
  • Include shrink wrapping in your order for individual retail and wholesale (be sure to add chipboard for rigidity and a professional feel).



  • Include pictures of your organization in action to inspire and motivate supporters throughout the coming year.
  • Request a Custom Quote for direct mail services and mail a calendar to your donors and volunteers as an annual thank-you gift.


  • Send customers your calendars to promote your services year-round or give them to employees as a gift they can use throughout the year.
  • Hint: Smartpress annually gives our entire staff a calendar comprised of images team members have personally taken throughout the year amidst their travels or hobbies, giving a highly personal touch to a corporate gift.



  • Create holiday gifts for family and friends by incorporating your own personal photography and special dates like “friendaversaries”.
  • Design different Versions for each family member.


Hint: Get more calendar printing inspo:






Language of Trees Saddle Stitch Calendar Design by Chris Murray Photography
Travail 2020 Sexy Chef Saddle Stitch Calendar: Layout Design by Sarah Julson | Photography and Digital Retouching by Travis Anderson
Twenty Twenty Wire Coil Calendar Design by Whitney Berkowsky – Otto & Berk | ottoandberk
Dogs of Rudy’s Spiral Bound Calendar Design by Bekah Malover
Saddle Stitch Calendar Design by Julia Mason Art
Thrive 2020 Desk Calendar Design by Jonathan Dalton
Hipster Animals 2020 Desk Calendar Design by Audra Miller
Magnetic Calendar Design by Maranda Steinmetz-Robey
Theoni 2020 Saddle Stitch Calendar Design by Theoni Collection

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