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Custom Calendar gift ideas -make personalized photo gifts for anyone
personalize photo gifts- how to easily make a customized calendar using your photos

I love to photoshop images and blend them to create customized new ones. I’ve done so much of it for social media purposes that I don’t think about how I just create what I need. So writing an article about editing your favorite photos so you can make personalized photo gifts for birthdays and holidays is a no brainer. Editing photos doesn’t take a lot thinking – although I’ll admit writing this took a bit of thought. Anyway, since I’m writing this around the holidays, I’m making my personalized photo gift into a custom Christmas gift calendar but I could as easily make it into a customized birthday, mother’s day or father’s day gift. That’s the versatility of personalized gifts.

Calendars are perfect as personalize photo gifts since the images are of someone, some pet, or someplace the recipient recognizes. But most personalized photo gifts require editing the images just a bit so that they are the correct size, shape, and resolution. It’s aways a good idea to crop the image while centering the object or person in it.

It’s easy for anyone to create a sentimental personalized gift for family and friends – calendars with perfectly sized photos just add an extra special touch. As a side note, knowing how to edit images for a custom calendar is also a great opportunity for freelancers wanting to earn a bit of cash to offer customized calendars for small businesses promoting their services. I can’t tell you how many “free” calendars I’ve gotten over time from my autoshop every January when I take my car in for service.

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So let’s get started.

Editing photos for personalized photo gifts

First, any photo taken with your smartphone camera is normally a high resolution image. That’s a good thing because custom stuff especially personalized photos need be in high resolution for printed media. If it is less than 300 DPI, the printed calendar image can or may end up slightly grainy. Since many smart devices save the image as an HEIC image format, standard conversion to JPG/PNG will likely be 72 or 96 DPI. Of course I’ll address that issue.

So here’s my easy step by step method to make cool customized calendars as personalized photo gifts for birthdays or holidays.

If you’re on a mac like me the easiest method is with an app called Preview. It can do most if not all of the “heavy lifting” – that is the cropping, formatting, and image resolution. But if you don’t have a Mac, there are a multitude of ways to do the same work and I’ll show that as well.

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To start, any images used for a customized calendar will need to be in landscape; since typical calendars in the US are 11 inches wide by 8.5 inches that results in rough aspect ratio of 1.3:1 – think of it as 11/8.5 =1.3 and 8.5/8.5=1 in english units. In metric, I’m guessing that calendars probably are A4 size – ie. 11.75 inches x 8.25 inches or 297millimeter x 210 millimeters. However, that’s just a guess since I’m not metric savvy (Sorry to those of you who are!)

So back to editing the photos. Those taken with a smart phone are easiest to use if they are landscape. If it’s not landscape it will need to be cropped into a landscape image.

The nice thing about using Mac Preview for this job is that it recognizes smart phone formatted HEIC images and can open them by default. Now I say that because I download the original image from iphone to mac using Apple’s AirDrop option which saves it photo’s default format. That retains the full resolution, format, and image size. If you don’t have that option, then emailing or messaging the image from smart device to your laptop will result in a JPG version. This method creates a lower resolution and reduced file size. However if you email you’ll be asked whether to send the image in small, medium, or original. Try send it in as large a format as your email will allow.

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If you’re using a Mac with Preview

As mentioned, if saved in HEIC format you retain the resolution and clarity of the image. Simply crop and export to JPG/PNG as a 300 DPI file.

If saved as a JPG or PNG, you lose some resolution but you still need to crop and set the resolution to 300 DPI.

So let’s look at an example. Here’s a favorite pic of my spoiled dog Emma. Of course its in portrait and I’m going to crop into landscape just to prove that you can take any image and make it work.



So first I open in Preview and then export as PNG with 300 DPI since I don’t want to reformat the original. Next I drag my mouse to create a cropped area meeting the required 1.3:1 aspect ratio for the final landscape image. The easy way to figure this out is to take the pixel width of the area I want in the final image and divide it by 1.3 to get the cropped image height.

So my width in this example is 3024 pixels / 1.3 mean I need 2326 pixels tall for cropped image. Remember the width by height is 11 inches by 8.5 inches in the calendar or

Landscape image -> 11 wide x 8.5 tall —-> 1.3 x 1 aspect ratio or (11/8.5 x 8.5/8.5)

My image -> 3024 pixels wide x 2326pixels tall —> 3024/2326 = 1.3 x 2326/2326= 1 aspect ratio

Calendar Image Width Required -> Image pixel width / 1.3 = Image pix crop height

Now I drag the mouse the full width and down 2326 pixels then center my selection to be cropped area. You’ll notice in the video I export as both a PNG and as a JPG. Notice that the PNG is much larger than the JPG but Preview does nice job of exporting as 300 DPI in either case. So I can use the smaller JPG as the image in my calendar without issue.

If you’re using Windows, what are your options.

Now if you’re not using a Mac then you don’t have the Preview app you have lots of options. One I use for many quick social media purposes is Canva. Here you can easily upload your photos and crop them accordingly. Saving them as a high res PDF is an easy solution. Canva will allow you to easily crop and save your downloaded images as high resolution PDFs. You place them on a flash drive and go to your local print shop – like OfficeDepot or equivalent and they can use those PDFs to make your personalized photo gift calendar.

So once you’ve registered a free account with Canva, create a blank 11 x 8.5 work area, upload each photo you want to use and center it into a separate page. When you done, download each image as a high res PDF – I suggest doing each separately so you can track which image is used for each month of the calendar. That results in a jan.PDF, feb.PDF, etc. Watch the quick video and see how I do this.

Download your images as high resolution PDFs. If you go in person to the print shop, like a Office Depot or equivalent they will use PDF images to create the calendar.

Use GIMP to crop images with online print service like VistaPrint

When creating personalized photo gifts for your customized calendar and printing it with online services, you must use high resolution JPG or PNGs. You won’t be able to upload PDFs. Canva can create JPG and PNGs in 72 or 96 DPI but not in 300DPI. Instead just download files and go to one any online site that coverts JPG/PNG to 300DPI.

You’re last option is GIMP instead of Canva. If you’re familiar with GIMP you can do this with GIMP.

If I use GIMP, I’ll open the image, crop it, and save resolution to 300 DPI. I can then export as either JPG or PNG. Just watch the video as I do this.

Once I repeat any of these options with all my images so that each one is the landscape size required for my calendar, I use any print service to print my customized calendar with my perfectly size images. I like Office Depot or VistaPrint as options since I’ve used them before. Their process of uploading images and then picking each image for each month of the calendar is self-explanatory. The results look great.

This is such great way to make personalized gifts for anyone, and you can even offer this to create these custom calendars for businesses that like to promote using a calendar as a freebie. I use to go to my auto shop to get work on my Suburu and every year they handed out free calendars with their coupons and promos. Now if you decide to do that then you’ll want to make the whole calendar with your favorite editor, add in an area for that businesses ads, coupons, and other details, and then save as a high resolution PDF that the business can get printed at the locale of their choice.

Create your custom calendar with your perfectly sized high resolution images.

There’s many ways to create your calendar, but the fastest is to simply go to an online print site offering custom calendars and then upload your photos. If you want to actually create the grid that holds the days of the month then you can easily create that with GIMP, Inkscape, or Canva – my three go to editors for everything I do.

Would you like to know more cool ways to create and edit using free editors like GIMP, Inkscape, and Canva for your DIY projects, small business needs, or freelancing services? Just subscribe.

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