Handprint Calendars: A Crafty Way to Ring in 2014

If you’re a Pinterest-er, it’s likely you’ve seen these pop up calendars before. And, while your DIY version may not come off exactly like the ones that you’ve pinned, these handprint calendars are a fun New Year’s project to work on with your kids. Hey, you’ve got at least another week of winter break ahead of you – by now, you’ve surely reached the point where painting your kids’ hands sounds like a rational idea!

One of the best parts about these calendars is that you can easily customize them – there is no right way to make them, you can keep them as simple or take them as extreme as you’d like, and each calendar will look unique and different. Use the guide we’ve created below to get you started, then put your kids’ imaginations to work, letting them think of handprint (or footprint!) ideas for each month, how to paint their hands to make the image, and what details to fill in when the pictures have dried.

Shopping list:
Some basic craft supplies will get you through this project. We used a heavyweight acid-free paint paper (you’ll need at least 12 pieces – one for each month, plus extras, just in case!) and washable kids’ paints (emphasis on the washable part). Also nice to have, but not necessary: Those leftover birthday party paper plates from the back of the closet came in handy for mixing colors, a variety of brushes to avoid having to clean them between colors, and a damp washcloth or rag for quick cleanups.

Get your paint on:
Okay, deep breath. It’s time to paint. Here are some of the tips and tricks we learned along the way…

We suggest first making a list of all the months and what you’ll be making out of your handprints for each month. Doing some advance planning and thinking through your ideas before your 4-year old has paint all over her hands is a smart move. Plus, writing it all out and doing some envisioning will help you realize that the Taj Mahal for November probably isn’t such a good idea after all.

Start painting, having your kids thoroughly wash and dry their hands between each picture. Often times, layering different kids’ hands on a single picture works well to create layers of different colors and sizes, such as in our January snowflake.

Also, don’t forget that in some pictures, you’ll need to flip their hand to place it on the paper. For example, check out the way we painted the American flag – it’s backwards on her hand, but when you flip it over to the paper it’s facing the right way!

It’s not going to look perfect after your first round of painting. In fact, it could look pretty pathetic. Have faith that with some post-painting creativity and love, things will come together.

Let your kids have some input in the design… and try not to break their wrists in the process! While you may have a perfect vision in mind for how to execute a gorgeous Christmas tree using their sweet little hands, they may think it’s cooler to have the “tree branches,” AKA their fingers, going the opposite way. Don’t worry too much about it and let them have fun. And, if you must, make your own handprint calendar, with appropriately facing tree branches after they go to bed.

Consider using colored paper for some prints. Being able to use white paint could come in handy, depending on the pictures you choose to create for each month. Construction paper could work, as long as you go easy on how much paint you use.

Pulling it together:
Now that you have all of the months ready to go (and dry!), it’s time to put your calendar together. The easiest way to go is to order a ready-made blank calendar, such as this Karen Foster Design Scrapbook Blank Wall Calendar (Amazon). For about $10, you won’t have to mess with binding or stapling or fussing with the assembly of the calendar – just glue or use double sided tape to attach your own homemade monthly pictures to the blank template and you’re good to go.

If you want to DIY it even more, try printing out blank calendar months at home from a site such as Calendar Labs. They offer free calendar printables, where you can pick and choose from dozens of different monthly formats to create the calendar of your Pinterest-loving dreams.  Once you print your months, use a hole-punch and some cute ribbon to bind the pages together. Or, swing by your local print shop and have them add a spiral binding for you!

Just because you made this yourself, doesn’t mean you can’t take it digital! Take photos of your kids’ prints and insert them into an online calendar template, such as on Shutterfly. For each month, you can include their handprint masterpieces alongside photographs of the kiddos themselves. Shutterfly will print and mail them to you quicker than the time it will take you to clean the paint off of your kitchen floor!

So very gift-worthy:
How thrilled would the grandparents be to get a surprise 2014 gift in the mail – customized from their adorable grandchildren? It would definitely make up for breaking your mother-in-law’s favorite serving platter while washing the Christmas dinner dishes! And, it will only take you a few more minutes to make as many copies of your calendar as you’d like. Once you’ve perfected the paintings, and let them dry completely, scan them at home and print out high-quality color photos and ta-da! Just like, that, you have an entire set of grandparent-worthy calendar paintings! Printer on the fritz at home? (Isn’t it always?) Swing by your local print shop and make color copies on their machines – it should cost you under $2.00 for a set of 12, which is way cheaper than replacing that precious serving dish.

Flip through the gallery below to look at the calendar that Katie and her kids made.

January
1 of 12

January

  1. January
  2. February
  3. March
  4. April
  5. May
  6. Next

Have you made handprint calendars at home? Share what you made for each month in the comments section below, plus, any tips or tricks you have!

– Katie Kavulla, Who left the paintbrushes for her husband to clean

For more fun kids project ideas like this click HERE