Your calendar has been hanging on your wall for a whole year now, and it’s almost time to take it down. Maybe it was just a throw-away calendar from your insurance guy. But maybe it was a nice gift calendar you got from your sister. If it was, it’s a shame to throw away all those pretty pictures. So here are a few ideas I’ve used for recycling (or, rather, re-using) old calendars.
1. Frame artwork. Every year, I get a scenic Colorado calendar. The pictures are so gorgeous, I can’t bear to throw them away. So I bought some inexpensive wood frames a few years ago and I pick out my three favorite photos and frame them for my office wall. It brightens up the space and keeps me inspired.
2. Illustrate kids’ school reports. I often get a nature calendar from the Sierra Club, of which I’m a member. Those I save to give to our young relatives to use for school projects. Pictures of bears, mountain lions, eagles and even trout can come in handy for reports and collages. A friend gives me a travel calendar each year, and they use these pictures, too, for school reports. I mean, it’s not always easy to find a photo of Amalfi or Malaysia when you need one.
3. Make a scrapbook. If you don’t scrapbook yourself, your friends who do will appreciate that wildflower calendar, as well as calendars featuring photos of kittens or other animals.
4. Make postcards. Crop those beautiful calendar pages down to postcard size. Glue to a thin piece of cardboard. This is a great way to keep in touch or reconnect with loved ones.
5. Make a picture book for toddlers. My sister-in-law used a binder and clear page sheet protectors to create an ever-changing picture book for her children. Cut the calendar pages to fit.
6. Make a refrigerator magnet. Buy magnet sheets or squares and cover the adhesive side with a portion of the calendar sheet. You don’t even have to make a “scene” with the cutouts – a colorful or patterned section of the picture will do.
7. Donate to a school for kids’ crafts. Schools and preschools also like old calendars for art projects. Collect them from friends and take a stack to your local school.
8. Recycle calendar photos into homemade envelopes. Yes, they make gorgeous envelopes and they are so easy! You can see how to make them at Instructables.com.
9. Use the calendar in another year. If you haven’t written on the calendar “squares” you also can save it for keeping organized at your desk. So what if the dates don’t exactly match up month by month? Maybe April has the same day/date combinations this year as September did last year. Or, if you have old calendars in storage, they come back into sync. To find out which years match up (a 2010 calendar works for 2021 and so on), click here.
10. Create gift tags. Cut out photos or pieces of artwork, and you’ve got beautiful gift tags to attach to presents year-round.
11. Make coasters. Use those gorgeous old calendar pages to make drink coasters. Pick relatable parts of calendar pages, and using this tile kit, create one-of-a-kind coasters for your home. You could also use the same technique to glue calendar pages to cork.
12. Hang bunting. Use those calendar pages to make colorful bunting for parties or everyday decor.
13. Turn plain boxes into gift boxes. We either have too many gift boxes in that supply closet or none at all. Instead of adding to the clutter, make a gift box that fits the recipient as well as the gift. See instructions here.
14. Light it up as a paper lantern. Use this template to turn a calendar page into a paper lantern. Or simply cut designs into the page – the point is to allow light to pass through. Use a tiny tea light in your finished lantern – a larger candle could set the lantern on fire.
15. Turn old calendars into gift wrap. This would be especially effective if the pages are paper and the pictures are gorgeous. Or fold calendar pages into homemade gift bags.
16. Craft a mobile. Upcycle old calendar pictures into a clever mobile. Instead of using paint chips for this project, substitute the heavy stock calendar pages. Cut shapes out with a paper punch, or freehand it for a one-of-a-kind look.
17. Decoupage a boring piece of furniture. I love this idea of taking an old piece of furniture and giving it new life with a decoupaged design. You can use old calendar pages to decorate smaller items, such as serving trays, children’s furniture or shelves. Or create a collage of calendar pages and other papers (like old posters) to cover a larger area.
18. Create a jigsaw puzzle. A beautiful photo can live on, cut into as many pieces as would make a good puzzle for your family. Find instructions here.
Whatever you do to recycle or reuse your calendars, it’s typically FREE – and that’s always a timely gift to yourself.