A Big Family Calendar From Supplies on Hand

by Katy on September 15, 2015 · 36 comments

Big pad of paper

Balancing a family schedule can be a gargantuan task when there are working parents. We do our best to keep the online family calendar updated, but there always seem to be conflicts that clear communication could have avoided. But since the iCal computer program has to be consciously opened, it’s a very flawed system.

I decided that we needed one of those large desk size month-at-a-time paper calendars. You know, the really big ones?

Pen to paper, in a location where all family members can see it. In everyone’s faces!

Tuesday evening is soccer practice!!!!!

But then I reminded myself that I don’t like to buy new.

I thought about finding an online printable version, but I didn’t want to be taping pieces of paper together, not to mention that printer ink is far from free.

I remembered that we had a huge pad of Crayola brand paper that was about the same size as the calendar that I craved. Yes, it’s so old that the edges are starting to yellow, but so what? I went ahead and pulled out a Sharpie and drew a calendar grid and added everything from the iCal program. My husband’s work, my work, back to school night, soccer practices, launching our older son at college, etc. And then I clipped it to the kitchen wall. For all the world to see.

See how un-Pinterest-worthy it is? Go ahead and pin it. I dare you!

Wall calendar

Here’s the most important part. I didn’t measure out the boxes, I didn’t use a straight edge and I certainly didn’t do a Pinterest search to make it as cute as possible. It took around ten minutes from start to finish, which included a page for the month of October.

We now have a family calendar which clearly shows everybody’s schedules, and I was able to create it from supplies we already had around the house. Nothing new was manufactured and there was no errand to buy a consumer product.

Now . . . to get my husband on board to actually use it.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Revanche September 15, 2015 at 10:56 am

Perfecto! Does the job and you won’t mind recycling it after 🙂

We have a few more months on our big two page family calendar and then it’ll be time to craft a new one as well. We don’t have any handy pads of paper that are big enough but we DO have an enormous roll of brown butcher paper. Calendar scroll, perhaps?


Katy September 15, 2015 at 11:02 am

What about using the backs of the pages?


Revanche September 15, 2015 at 1:29 pm

Already do, so it’ll be fully used front to back to front again when we run out of months. 😀

GCal does also work if all family members can get themselves to check the darn app regularly but I always find that a physical calendar is most useful.


Elizabeth September 15, 2015 at 11:10 am

WTG on using the resources you have on hand! Inspiring!


Bellen September 15, 2015 at 11:13 am

Terrific -just size I needed when the 3 boys were at home. Now I just use a free calendar from the bank and use a different color ink (colored pencils on hand for years) to mark “mine, his and ours” work schedule changes, doctor appts, library books due, etc. As long as hubby looks at it it’s fine – he needs prodding some times.


ann September 15, 2015 at 11:19 am

I painted a chalk board on our wall to mark down any important appointments, shopping items needed, deliveries expected, etc. It works quite well and it is a satisfying feeling to rub it off and start again the next week. I’m afraid that I wasn’t as frugal yourself though, as I did buy the paint, but it has been used for various other tasks since purchase.


Barb @ 1SentenceDiary September 18, 2015 at 7:05 am

What a great idea! I’m going to consider that for my kitchen.


Nathalie September 15, 2015 at 11:32 am

I like that you used what you had on hand.

I keep several Google calendars. I like that I can view just one (mine) or several (my gardening calendar, an “Organizing” calendar and my kids’ calendars) at the same time. I like that I can color code everything and I even have “flairs” to make certain events stand out even more (although those can only be seen on my laptop, not on my phone). I like that it sends me email reminders (I’m very absent-minded so I set reminders for everything).

My husband, although having been given access to the calendars, won’t use them. Ever since the kids were little (we’re a blended family), I have kept a family calendar in the kitchen. I have a dry erase board that is pre-printed with a blank calendar grid. Every 1st of the month I refer to all the calendars and add the relevant events to the wall calendar. I use different color dry-erase markers. So at dinnertime, we can all look at the calendar to see what is coming up that impacts everyone (when my daughter needs my car for events or college classes, when my son has cross country practices or meets, when my husband is out of town, birthdays, doctor/dentist appointments, vet appointments, school events) and we can discuss car arrangements, work from home arrangements, etc. I like that when the information is obsolete or needs to be changed, I can just erase it instead of scribbling on a piece of paper (although, to be fair, changes don’t occur that often, it’s mostly additions).

It’s worked very well for us for 15 years. It was invaluable when we had kids going back and forth between our house and their other parents’ house. I did have to replace the calendar once because the old one fell and broke. I found my current one at Target several years ago.


A. Marie September 15, 2015 at 11:44 am

Kudos on your thrifty and inventive approach to the concept!

Since in our household it’s just DH and myself, and since medical appointments are the main things to remember now that we’re both in our 60s, I’ve devised a system of attaching the medical appointment cards (plus other engagements as necessary, on Post-it Notes) to the side of the refrigerator with our extensive collection of fridge magnets. I can move stuff around as necessary, and discard things once the appointments are kept. DH still insists on using his Google calendar, but he sometimes forgets to enter things into it, and we’ve found that this system provides valuable backup.


Kim from Philadelphia September 15, 2015 at 11:50 am

Plus now you have one less item taking up space in your house!
We do the same thing; it’s a standard-sized freebie calendar by the phone in our kitchen. Everything goes on thst sucker!


Tara September 15, 2015 at 12:32 pm

What a brilliant idea! I always end up buying a large two page calendar every year but they always seem to be the most expensive ones xx


Betty Winslow September 15, 2015 at 12:58 pm

We keep a calendar on the side of the frig (usually one from Dollar Tree) just to keep track of what day it is, but we both have personal calendars we keep everything else in, husband a pocket calendar and me an electronic PDA my brother gave me yrs ago that I still use. I used to have a paper planner, but it got so bulky it no longer fit in my purse and I was scared I’d lay it down and lose it. I LOVE my PDA – I don’t know what I’ll do when it finally dies. 🙁


Anne September 15, 2015 at 1:05 pm

I think there must be something list/calendar resistant on the Y chromosome. Back when I was raising my sons, all the men in the house wanted to “mention” to me what we were out of grocery-wise.

They simply could not get themselves a few feet over to the hanging grocery list to write down what they wanted. They wanted to mention it to me and have me hold it all in my head, or write it down myself.

Luckily, for me, sons are now married and driving some other poor women insane. 😀


Rb September 15, 2015 at 1:57 pm

I grew up with large color coded calendars my mom kept for all our crazy activities. I used to swear by my day planner but it wasnt till we got iphones that my husb got on board. He is a tech guy, so now we dont even have a paper callendar its all on ical. Color coded for all families members, work, respite, even menu planning. Hubs can check it at work. And i like being able to make appointments on the go without wondering if it will conflict with the callendar at home.


Marilyn September 15, 2015 at 2:51 pm

I like to have 2 calendars, my e-mail calendar and a paper calendar — just in case. So every year, I go to the Dollar Store and get a small calendar to write down all of my work and personal appointments. It only costs $1 per year and it works for me.


Lesa September 15, 2015 at 4:06 pm

I love your calendar. Looks entirely practical and useful. Getting husbands to use anything can be a challenge.


Amanda September 15, 2015 at 4:32 pm

I do the exact same thing with an 11.5X8 piece of paper instead of buying a planner. My husband and I coordinate with online calendars, but I like to have a separate calendar to organize my work for school. It is so much easier and cheaper than buying new.


LisaC September 15, 2015 at 5:00 pm

Our school gets free large calendars from the photography company. You just gave me the idea to put out the extras for parents to take if they wish, there are always extras.


Jane F September 15, 2015 at 5:59 pm

Love that – What a nice gesture, LisaC!

I too enjoy the your calendar’s use it up and nonpinterest qualities!

The paper is so huge next your head and yet my mind plays tricks on me and tells my it’s normal-sized and hung on a teeny clipboard! Go figure.


Katy September 16, 2015 at 8:08 am

It’s an optical illusion!


Ann September 15, 2015 at 5:43 pm

Love that! Reminds me of my mom’s calendar (in the kitchen, right under the wall phone) that kept us all organized in the day. There is something to be said for big ol’ calendars, right?!?


Katy September 15, 2015 at 5:52 pm

Let’s hope so!


tonya September 16, 2015 at 4:04 am

My sweet and frugal mother in law ( a child of the Depression and a NCA forever) saves the free calendars sent by different non-profits. She sends me one each Christmas! Part of the fun is you never know what you’re going to get. This year it’s pet rescue. Last year it was childhood cancer.


Katy September 16, 2015 at 7:32 am

I love your mother!


Tonya September 16, 2015 at 10:02 am

I know, she was non-consumer before it was cool. She’s the one who first told me “Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without”. 🙂


Tracy September 16, 2015 at 5:12 am

I love this idea! I wish I had that kind of large paper left from when my girls were little…But I do have a large white board in my kitchen! Hmmmmm…… LOL I agree with you about using online apps. I tried that with my family as well but no one wanted to download the app or use it. Thanks for the idea – I think I’ll go look for my dry erase markers right now! =)


Jane F September 17, 2015 at 7:53 am

Fyi. You could draw the calendar grid in permanent marker on the white board. If you don’t like it or want to use the white board for something else all you have to do is go over the permanent marker with dry erase marker to remove it.


isabelle September 16, 2015 at 5:38 am

It does the job!
I am also a “”calendar”” girl. I use an old school one (no electronic for me) and put everything on it. We have one made each year, with the family pics of the year. It costs 20$ but we keep them after, so for me it’s really worth it.


JD September 16, 2015 at 7:06 am

I’m a pencil and paper girl, so I like your calendar a lot! I get several freebies every year from charities that we donate to, so we always have extras, but I give the extras away to family and use them at work as well as at home. My nine year old granddaughter always gets the ones with cute pet pictures, which she hangs on her bedroom wall.
I need to see stuff written out — a screen doesn’t get it for me. My husband is like other men — he asks me when he’s supposed to be somewhere. When it’s on a calendar hanging in front of his nose. Of course.
I carried a pocket planner for years, but finally quit. Instead, I carry a little notebook and look to my wall calendars for events and appointments. I love my little Moleskine notebook. I’ve had the same one for five years, slowly filling it out with menus, grocery lists, people’s email addresses, Christmas gift ideas, measurements, recipes, and general thoughts I didn’t want to forget. It’s a timeline of sorts, and kind of fun to look back through it. I know people who save their wall calendars for the same reason.


Katy September 16, 2015 at 8:07 am

I used to always have a paper engagement calendar, and I’ve saved them all. They’re such little time capsules.


cathy September 16, 2015 at 10:16 am

I still have a paper engagement calendar. It’s the one thing my husband is guaranteed to give me for Hanukkah. I also save them (and occasionally refer back for information). They do double duty as a journal of sorts since I’m just as likely to note the first hummingbird sighting of the season or how tall a kid is as doctors’ appts, lessons or music gigs. I also color code each family member w/ a different colored highlighter. Since my calendar is on the kitchen counter, anyone can glance at it. Husband uses the calendar on his phone, but occasionally forgets so the old-school calendar is a great back-up.
I like the giant wall calendar idea, though, and am impressed you had everything you needed already.


Diane C September 16, 2015 at 9:44 pm

Lol, I had no idea what “ical” meant. In context, I get that’s an iphone calendar app, but then I guess you’ve figured out by now that I’m a non-i anything kinda gal.


Rosa September 17, 2015 at 6:46 pm

Our big calendar hangs on the door, so you have to look at it to leave the house. People who live here who are not me are not great about adding things, but very good at checking for them, so it works!


Barb @ 1SentenceDiary September 18, 2015 at 7:15 am

For years and years I had a kitchen calendar, with everything written on it. But hubby and I both regularly work outside the house. He didn’t like not being able to see the calendar when he was at work (or errands, or whatever). He basically insisted that we move to Google Calendar, and set up one for himself, one for me, and one for the kids’ activities and schedule (back and forth to their dad’s).

I was skeptical, but he was so insistent that I thought I’d give it a go. Now, I LOVE it. Can’t even imagine going back to paper. I suppose it helps that we both tend to spend a fair amount of time in front of the computer; we’ve gotten in the habit of leaving it up in the background and always looking at the week or month view (not so easy to do on the phone).

I love the calendar you made, too. Hope it works for you and the family.


Mrs. GV October 8, 2015 at 9:35 am

I use a dry erase marker to put my shopping list directly on the front of my white refrigerator. I consider it my built-in white board and it wipes off cleanly. You could also do a monthly calendar this way I suppose, if you wanted.


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