For years, wall calendars were the domain of cute kitten pictures, 'funny' cartoons and questionable motivational messages. Did anybody really need to adorn their walls with an image of Niagara Falls or the cast of Friends, let alone 12 of them for the entire year?
Photo calendars have helped to change all that. Now you can be greeted by handpicked pictures of loved ones every time you go to check when your next dental appointment or football game is. And as good a gift as they are to receive, trawling through and curating your photo gallery to best fit each month makes photo calendars a gratifying present to give as well.
So which service do you choose? It seems like more and more online (and bricks and mortar) shops now have the facility to help you build your own. That's where TechRadar's best photo calendars guide comes in, as we can give you a helping hand in getting the quality, speed and cost that best suits your needs and budget in both the US and UK.
Keep reading to see which companies do the best photo calendars around.
The best photo calendars in the US
It's easy to create beautiful photo calendars with Mixbook
Put your photo calendar business Mixbook's way, and we doubt very much you'll be disappointed. In fact, so does Mixbook - it offers '100% Happiness Guaranteed' with returns available if you're unsatisfied for any reason.
So what do you get from Mixbook? For starters, there are over 50 themes available to choose from. Even from there you can fully customize them all and Mixbook's software is really easy to use to do so. That goes beyond merely the photos you choose, as you can also add stickers and events that are pre-printed on the calendar to mark birthdays, holidays and other special events.
It's true that Mixbook is a bit more expensive than some, but the heavyweight paper it uses makes the cost worth it for a genuinely premium feeling gift.
Photo calendar software that's a joy to use
There's a lot to like about the photo calendars that Picaboo provides. Due to the agile web-based editing software used to assemble and finesse your product, it just doesn't feel like a chore with this service. It's easy to use and, dare we say it, fun! One of the things we like about Picaboo is that it encourages you to get creative with your calendar rather than to stick to the ordinary 12-month viewer. Think baby's first year, family year in review or milestone birthdays and anniversaries.
And because the designs are fully customizable you can be as daring or adventurous as you wish with your photos. The one downside we'd note is the quality, however. Sometimes the images on the finished article don't come out as defined or colorful as you might remember from your gallery.
Attractive photo calendars starting at less than $20
If you're a frequent visitor to CVS, Walgreens or Walmart, then Snapfish might just be the best option for your photo calendar. It has come to an arrangement with those stores to let you pick up instore, which may be a godsend if you can't rely on being at home to take a delivery.
If that's one big plus for Snapfish, then price is another. Its range starts at less than $20, so it's a cheaper option than others. That may be reflected in the lack of customizability you get, but not so much in standard as high-quality paper stock is still used together with classic spiral binding. And like Mixbook, you can specify that certain days of the year are marked up with reminders.
Low on price, high on quality
Last but by no means least on our list is Shutterfly. Although it takes up our final spot, bear in mind that there are dozens of these services so Shutterfly is still well worth a look. Especially at the price, as this is another photo calendar provider that has prices starting at sub-$20. The template designs are really striking, too, with some of the most attractive fonts and color combos that we've seen from anybody. There are more than 60 to choose from to get you started. And your choice expands still with spiralled wall and desk calendars, as well as easel style for something even more affordable.
From there, you can cut, chop and customize within reason. Although the control you have over borders and colors is somewhat limited. It feels like you have less overall say than with a service like Mixbook.
The best photo calendars in the UK
Premium service with plenty of variety
Snapfish takes the photo calendar honours in the UK, thanks to its attractive templates and designs, fine quality and decent delivery times.
There isn't much leeway for customising your calendar masterpiece, but you probably won't miss that as the sheer amount of possibilities the fonts and templates Snapfish afford is monumental - it claims there are more than 3,000 'embellishments' you can make. That includes adding photos and flags to certain days to make your photo calendar useful as well as beautiful.
Great value photo calendars
If you're not bothered about too many bells and whistles and just want a very straight forward photo calendar service that you can bang together a quick gift in double quick time, then Truprint could be the ideal place to turn. The service is clean, easy-to-use and can have your finished calendar in your hands after only five days.
And if you were after something affordable and didn't want to go all out with a really expensive product, then it has plenty of options available across price brackets that come down towards the £10-mark. Just don't expect an editor that allows you a lot of freedom and customising galore - that's not what Truprint does best.
Cheap and cheerful with regular offers
Vistaprint is probably one of the first names that you think of when it comes to printing your images, and it's been doing personalised items for some time now. Photo calendars are one of the many strings to its bow, and it's usually one of the best-priced providers in the UK. We've seen promotions where you can get a personalised calendar designed and delivered to your door for less than a fiver!
That's great if you just want a fun pressie or something to adorn your own house. But a quick look at some online reviews shows that quality isn't always the best. Colours can come out darker than intended, for example. And we've noticed that the base templates are a little bit basic. So Vistaprint is one to consider if you're more concerned with cost than content.