desk calendar beside black click pen
Creative Reuse

Reusing Old Calendars and Planners

When a year or a half year comes to an end, one of the “wasteful” things I always used to lament was seeing my really useful, really nice, beautiful notebook-style planners go “out of commission” or head to the trash, because their 12-or 16-month calendar year had run out and they can’t be recycled easily (with the kind I’ve had, you can tear some of the pages out for recycling, but a lot of their parts are a “no-go”, like plastic pockets, a metal spiral, and pages with laminated tabs. ) I’ll sometimes keep old planners on a shelf for reference if I need to look up past events and dates, but that’s about all the future use they’ve gotten. Until this week.


Backstory: I’d already had “old calendars” on the brain this summer, since I take in donations of pre-loved calendars for my reuse shop but have noticed that so far, they are not a hot seller. In fact, none of them have sold since we opened March 1, not “Yoga Cats” or “Kimbell Art Museum Masterpieces” or “Spy Cows” or a plethora of others. Keep in mind these are pre-loved, out-of-date wall calendars, but unused, and some are still wrapped in plastic! Does the average person not know that old calendars can provide great, inexpensive frameable art as well as images for collages and a host of other arts/crafts? Just because their “stated year” has passed doesn’t mean they’re useless. And then I got to thinking, ‘I’ll bet the ones that are out-of-date can actually be used AS CALENDARS someday, since calendar years repeat!’ and how fun it could be cutting and pasting a few new numbers and letters and even using stickers, to make them work again…


I consulted Google and found out that 2023 is the same calendar year as 2017, 2006, 1995 and more; 2024 is the same calendar year as 1996, 1968 and more (there is actually a website called that makes this info search easy!). I filed away an idea to let visitors to my shop know this factoid…maybe with a little sign next to the calendars?…and made a note to myself to check to see if any of our old calendars match up with this year or next.


At around the same time, I started noticing that my personal 12-month, 5 1/2″ x 8″ Blue Sky spiral planner would be running out at the end of June and kept reminding myself I needed to stop by the office supply store buy to a new one. It helps me so much in staying organized, and it was becoming more and more difficult for me to write down future appointments, events, commitments… (also in case you are wondering, I love the tactile and visual elements of paper planners too much to go digital)! But I drug my feet in buying a new one– I didn’t have time, a new planner would be expensive, blah, blah, blah. Thank goodness I waited! Five days ago, with only a week left until my planner would completely run out, the idea finally hit me– Look through the stack of old wall calendars that I haven’t put out on the sales floor yet (because they’re partially used or because I’m planning to use their images in future themed paper packs) and find one with a year that works; grab one of my old spiral planners from the shelf that I like better than the current one; use that old planner as a “base” on which to glue cut-up pieces of the wall calendar onto; and if it works well, share the idea with my readers/followers.


So how did my reused/repurposed planner turn out?

Much better than expected! If you’re interested in the process, read past this paragraph; otherwise just know that I had a blast making it (I actually enjoyed it so much, I had a hard time pulling myself away to do things like go to bed at a decent hour, so I had to force myself to work on it in small chunks each day!) and I could definitely see leading a reuse planner workshop someday to help others do the same, if we have enough relevant calendars. So please keep on donating your pre-loved calendars to Untrash or to any other creative reuse center– Untrash is now accepting planners, too!


Notes on my planner makeover:

My Supplies

  • Old wall calendar
  • Used 5 1/2″ x 8″ spiral planner
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Hand-held Dymo LetraTag Label Maker
  • Assorted stickers
  • Black ink pen

First, I could only find a 2006 wall calendar (which, as mentioned above, is the same as 2023) and none that corresponded with 2024, which means my “new” spiral planner just covers July-December 2023. Which is fine, since the July 2019-June 2020 planner I chose to use as the “base” hadn’t been written on much for its first six months (I must have bought it mid-year at a deep discount 🙂 ) so I had a lot of blank 2019 July-December planner calendar pages on which I could glue things, plus a lot of blank “daily planner” pages that only needed slight adjustments, and a lot of “used” 2020 pages from which to cut words from (although being a 2020 planner, you can imagine how “empty” it got after March).

As luck would have it, the 2006 wall calendar I found (a World Wildlife Federation calendar that was mass mailed to supporters) was the exact same size as my planner’s monthly calendar pages–

For each month, it was easy to cut and paste the corresponding wall calendar page on top of the planner calendar page, split down the middle so that with both sides of the planner calendar open, it makes the full calendar:

Notice I made “2023” labels with the label maker to cover up every “2019” that was atop each page. And, I covered up the outdated “mini calendars” that were printed in the planner calendar margins by gluing blank paper cut from the leftover planner pages, also and used that blank paper to fill in/cover up other dated or marked on spaces as well:

(One more note about reusing old calendar pages: Corresponding years line up as far as dates, but certain holidays do not, and moon phases don’t, either, so I used my black pen to put a line through some items printed on the wall calendar pages that I glued onto the planner calendars.)


As for the daily planner pages, which come after each of the planner’s monthly calendars and provide more room to plan, the numbered dates were already all correct (because of course, every month’s dates are the same each year with the exception of February) but the day names that correspond to each numbered date are not the same each year, and so I tried different ways to cover up and change these to make them work for 2023. First with the label maker, then with a black Sharpie fine point marker, and finally, by cutting out the “days of the week” names from the wall calendar as well as from the leftover planner pages. This latter method looks the best, I think, plus it reuses resources and I’m pretty sure still allows the page to be recycled someday:

When I tried the label maker for the job, it’s pretty easy to just peel and stick new labels to change out the days, but using up a lot of label tape and buying more label cartridges is not what I wanted to do. When I used the marker, it bled through a bit to the other side of the page. I also tried a fine point pen to “write over” the day names, but it didn’t cover well. (Probably the most eco-friendly and fastest way to cover up the day names on these pages would be to find a marker that falls somewhere between my fine point pen and my Sharpie, but I wanted to use only what I had on hand!)


For the final touches, I got out my old stash of stickers from my scrapbooking days and added a few to the top of each calendar for a little more color, plus used label stickers to cover over the dates on the cover and inside cover:

Now, it’s time to write and plan in it– and look forward to making another one in six months!!

1 thought on “Reusing Old Calendars and Planners”

  1. Really interesting. I’ve never thought about calendar years repeating. Great factoid.

    As for the other stuff about cutting, pasting, labeling, and glueing. . . .ah. . . . . NOPE.

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