Sunday, June 7, 2015

DIY Vacation Countdown Calendar Using Microsoft Excel

Every year since 2010, I have created a vacation countdown calendar for my family. Whether our crew will be visiting the Carolina coast, going to Disney, or spending a week up north in a cabin on a lake, we always have a countdown to vacation.   The format is akin to an advent calendar in which each of our kids takes their turn pulling a tab of the day to reveal a picture on each day of the calendar. For pictures, I typically insert jpegs of our family, area landmarks, and scenic attractions from previous trips. If there is not enough picture files in your photo inventory, one can always check out flickr or other photo sharing sites for photos assuming you borrow the content from those jpeg authors/owners that permit you to do so. Being a spreadsheet person, I use none other than Microsoft Excel to produce my countdown calendar and I can show you how. Typically I create a thirty day or one month countdown to the big departure day. That time frame allows six rows or weeks that easily fit on one eight and a half by eleven inch sheet of copy paper.

Creating the Calendar Grid in Excel

1.       Days of the Week.  First you will create a new spreadsheet for your calendar. Next you will highlight columns B though H and set column width to be 22.50.  Set the column width for column A to be 8.
2.       Calendar Header – Grab cells b1:h1 and merge as one cell. This will become one cell that you can type your header such as 2015 Vacation Countdown Calendar, etc. Also, set the row height for row one at 30.
3.       Days of the Week Header -   Set the row height for row 2 to be 16.5.
4.       Weeks- Be sure to set row height of rows 4,6,8,10,12 and 14 to be 85.
5.       Date Header – Be sure to set row height of rows 5,7,9,11, and 12 to 16.5
6.       Border Lines – Highlight cells b3 and drag done to H14 and click border all sides icon. This will ensure every cell in this field will have black lines/borders on all sides.
7.       Calendar Title –   In cell B1, type your calendar name (E.g. 2015 Vacation Countdown) in font size 14 with the font size of your choice. I used Bradley Hand. Also bold the font. Justify the font to center position so the title of your calendar is right in the middle.
8.       Days of the Week Title – Start in B2 through H2, start typing the days of the week. I go with Bradley Hand font style and a size 11 font. Be sure to center the type in each cell and also bold the font.
9.       Calendar Dates – These calendar instructions allow for six weeks covering the countdown of 30 days. Since departure dates don’t always start at the beginning of the week or very end of the week, this six week format allows you to place your dates accordingly. I usually find my departure date and count back. In my example I am leaving on July 5th and counted back 30 days. Just follow along with a real calendar in front of you to establish your dates. You will type in your dates for rows 3, 5, 7,9,11 and 13. Go to “Format Cells” and pick date option. For font I used Bradley Hand size 11 font and bold. Also justify the date to the right size of cell. Also use color fill function, but try to avoid dark colors that will hide your font.
10.   Enter Remaining Days – Start with your departure date and label “Vacation”. Count back towards your thirty days. I used Bradley Hand and size 11 font.
11.   Adding pictures into the vacation countdown dates. To insert a picture into a date cell, simply click on cell of choice, then click insert picture and select picture file, click insert again. You may need to shrink down the picture to fit inside the cell. At this point it is optional if you wish to cover these dates like an advent calendar. Kids can pull the labels off each day as you get closer to vacation.
There you have it. As mentioned earlier, please feel free to adjust fonts and colors accordingly to your tastes. Also consider adding pictures to the border of your calendar. Feel free to leave comments if you have questions on your calendar set up.

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