When considering a gift for someone, I try to find something that will touch the person in a personal way. For example, if I give a picture frame, I insert a photo that would mean something special to the recipient. So, with this in mind, I was trying to think of something unique and special as a gift for my husband.
After seeing numerous advertisements for personalized photo mugs, t-shirts, labels, mouse pads, key chains and many other items, I chose a photo calendar. Our main calendar is located on the refrigerator and is visible every time we enter the room. Choosing the subject of the calendar was the easy part; I chose our dogs. My husband is an animal lover, but he especially loves dogs. Over our many years together, we have had 10 dogs and I wanted to include all of them in the calendar.
I checked two local stores that offer the calendars for sale, but they had none on display. For no particular reason, I chose an online company I had seen advertising in the past, Vistaprint.com. I had no idea if Vista Print produced quality products, but I decided to take a chance on them. I had left myself too little time to comparison shop; I had to make a decision quickly if I wanted the calendar delivered on time. After sorting through photos and choosing the ones I wanted to use, I was ready to begin.
Vistaprint offers several different calendar styles, such as desk, wall, magnet, wallet and poster calendars. The customer can choose from their large selection of theme calendars, or create one using their own photos. Following their step-by-step directions was easier than I had anticipated.
With dozens of basic photo designs to choose from, there is something for everyone. Here are a few of the basic categories for a background and trim: elegant, floral, fun, modern, solid colors and conservative. Or, there are more specific categories, such as: birthday, graduation, his & hers, holidays, kids, wedding, babies and animals, to name just a few. I knew I wanted something with dogs and I found the perfect one to go with my photos. The background has dog biscuits decorating the page, with a dog dish icon in the bottom left corner and a cute dog icon on the right.
Once I had my design picked out, I chose the photos I wanted to use and arranged them in the order I wanted them to appear. Arranging them was easy, since I wanted them to be in the same order that we obtained each dog. Since I had only 10 dogs to feature in 6 pictures, I used other favorite pictures to fill the calendar. For the cover, I wanted a collage of all the photos used inside, then each page would have one single photo. There are several options to choose from in designing the calendar. More than one photo can be used per page and the photo can be centered or tilted. I preferred the tilted look. The basic price of $19.98 is for one photo per page on stock paper. If more photos are added, the cost goes up. When I first saw the basic cost, I hesitated, but when I realized it was a gift that would give back every single day with a treasured memory, I decided it was worth the cost.
As the calendar was being designed, I added icons for specific dates throughout the year. The calendar can start with any month and it automatically included the traditional holidays that are on all American calendars. The icons I chose included a Christmas tree, Thanksgiving turkey, wedding rings, a cupcake to highlight not only our birthdays, but also our two remaining dogs. We don't know the birthdate of our second dog, so I highlighted the day he joined our family with a different style cupcake and added text to identify what it means. I also added fireworks for July 4th and a heart for Valentine's Day. There are a large number of icons for just about any occasion you can imagine. Vistaprint also offers the calendars for over 2 dozen countries and in several languages, tailoring the traditional holidays to each country.
Text can be added to each page, so I added a title to the cover, along with each dog's name and date of the photo on each individual page. Plus, I included special dates or events that were coming up, which kept me from having to write as much on the calendar pages later.
The Vistaprint photo calendaris printed on 100 lb. paper with aqueous coating. I chose to upgrade to a premium glossy stock for $6.00 more. The size of the wall calendar is 17.30" x 11.25" with 3028 x 1969 pixels. When I'd try to use a photo that did not have enough pixels, I would get an error message telling me that the quality would not be acceptable. I would either re-scan the photo, or use a different one. I had a few problems with two of the older photos, but the newer ones were fine.
Once the calendar was completely assembled, I was able to go back and check everything over before placing the order. I was given a 7 - 10 day delivery estimate and it was delivered in less than a week.
When the package arrived, I was anxious to see what it looked like, since I had nothing to compare it to. My fears were instantly relieved once I saw the product. The calendar is the perfect size with spiral binding. The photo and paper quality are great. I was so excited about this gift that I had to fight myself from giving it to my husband in advance.
I knew the photo calendar was a hit when my husband took one look at it and tears welled up in his eyes. He slowly looked at each page, touching the pictures of his beloved pets who are all now gone, except for two. As I had predicted, he loved it and there isn't a single day that we don't look at the calendar and focus on the dog of the month and the many memories that come back to us. I've given more expensive and personal gifts, but nothing has touched him more than this photo calendar. Though it may seem expensive for a one year calendar, it was worth every penny and it's one calendar that will never end up in the trash.
There are numerous other personalized items available and the company offers a 30 day money back guarantee. I have not had experience with any other companies, so I don't know how they compare in quality or price. However, after my experience with Vistaprint.com, I would not hesitate to order from them again.