Once you become a parent, for many people a whole new world of events, businesses, and organizations open up to you. Even if you’ve lived in the same city your whole life, many don’t realize all the options out there for families until they become parents themselves. In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of an area event calendar, various options that may already exist where you live, how to find a local event calendar, and how to create your own if one doesn’t already exist for your city or county!
For some, the answer to this question may seem obvious, whereas others don’t see the point. So let’s discuss! As a new parent, your most precious commodity is your time. When you are sleep deprived and your schedule now revolves around another human, and let’s just say having endless time to research area events and learn about businesses won’t be a priority.
Having someone else who already knows the kid friendly businesses, is aware of local events, and is curating it into a single resource you can reference is huge! It becomes a one stop shop to learn all this information rather than piecing it together over time as you talk and meet other parents. It allows you to spend your caregiving time making memories with your children! It helps ensure you learn about interesting events before they happen, rather than afterwards.
Great! An event calendar like that sounds awesome. How do I find the one for where I live? For some readers, this will be easy. There are a few franchise type businesses that are focused on sharing kid and family friendly events. Your area may already be served by one of these options (typically run by a mom in your area). Start by vising the following sites and see if your city is listed:
Mommy Poppins: https://mommypoppins.com/
If your area is not currently serviced by one of the above choices, you may have a local option. This is where your keyword search skills will come in handy. Start simple with choices like:
Your results might give you exactly what you are looking for. Or, you may come across other types of event calendars. They may include your local chamber of commerce, visitor’s center, library, and more. If this happens, don’t get discouraged! You are still learning about businesses that have the type of information you are looking for, just not in the exact format you had hoped.
The next step is to ask your social network! Whether you are asking people in person during a library story time or park playground, or posting to Facebook, area friends sometimes don’t think to share the info because they assume everyone knows about it! They will be happy to share applicable resources once they realize you are searching for a local family friendly event calendar.
Perhaps you’ve followed all the suggestions above, and still haven’t located an awesome event calendar where you live. If this is you, it’s because your area does not currently have such a resource. For most of you reading, this is probably you. Bigger cities tend to have established event calendars because they have so many activities available. Smaller cities, or counties with a more spread out population typically don’t, and local governments usually don’t have the funds to create and support one. These are the areas I feel need a calendar the most! When there are fewer events available, you want to know about absolutely every option!
This is what led me to create a kid and family friendly community calendar for my local county. Depending on your goals for it, you have several software platforms you can choose between. Let’s discuss some of the options I evaluated before creating mine.
A Facebook group has several pros. First off, it’s free. Most people have an account, so joining a new group has a low barrier to entry. This also means most are familiar with the platform. And, many businesses have a profile page they use to create and promote events.
If you go this route, as you find relevant events, you can share the event directly to your group and it becomes part of an event list. This does not require much time on your part.
Their are, however, several downsides. These include:
Google Calendar has the benefit of being a calendar from the beginning. Another free option, you are not trying to warp another product into acting like a calendar. I like the visual of easily seeing how long an event is going on, and being able to overlap with it a personal calendar. There are even some extension plugins like Checker Plus For Google Calendar that make it easier to add events from around the web to it without copying and pasting the info from each one which can be time consuming.
You can also mimic the idea of filters by creating sub-calendars to the main account. For example, if you plan to service a county, the sub-calendars could be the different cities. That would make it easy to see just events in your home city. The downside of this is that the sub-calendars would need to be individually added to your personal calendar to see everything. They would also all show up in different colors by default which can make your personal calendar feel busy.
With Google Calendar, you can share it by adding gmail email addresses individually for access, or share a public link to the calendar that would view like a webpage. The calendar can also be embedded into a website.
This is a nice starting option as you evaluate what you want to do. However, as the number of events or interest in the events grow, you may wish for more options than just a calendar.
Unlike most offerings, Time.ly was developed knowing that some people out there would want to curate their own calendars of events that different businesses offer.
Their platform allows you to add events from around the web to your specific site and offers customizable filters. You can also sell tickets to events and show the calendar in several different layouts. Events posted can include extra details like images, weblinks, files, and more. Time.ly allows website visitors to easily share events on social sites, sync events to their calendars, and receive newsletters with Mailchimp integrations.
Something we haven’t discussed yet is that they offer an event submission form, where businesses can submit their event to be added to the calendar. Note, do not assume businesses have the time or desire to do this though. Better for you to rely on curation as the way to get events added.
One downside to this software option is that they keep changing their pricing models. At the time of this writing, their free model only allows 100 events. You can try their software free for 10 days to see if you like the functionality and then request a quote. They are not showing any pricing choices online at the moment.
MacaroniKid was mentioned earlier as an option that might already exist in your area. If it doesn’t, you could arrange with a corporation to become a territory owner and use their software to support your calendar.
Pros to this option include help/support, a more established brand name, website setup allows you to publish advertisements for revenue to support your efforts, and you can email newsletter subscribers.
Typically, MacaroniKid likes their territory to service 100-200k population within a smallish area. If you are in a real rural spot, this might not make sense (like me – my county of 500k+sqft has about 77k people living in it).
They also have a hosting fee of ~$60/mo until you reach 5,000 newsletter subscribers. At 5,000 they waive the fee because the national corporation is able to market to those subscribers with deals they have secured with national and worldwide brands.
MacaroniKid does offer a calendar view and ability to add events to personal Google or Apple calendars. As a territory owner you are expected to send out weekly newsletters and write a few local articles for inclusion in that. The newsletter also includes a sampling of upcoming events.
Mighty Networks was originally created as a community platform. They offer a free plan, community plan, and business plan.
On the free plan you can charge for membership, post articles and arrange them into topics.
The community plan (~$40/mo as of this writing) also offers an event calendar, groups, and polls and question type posts. The event calendar can be seen in list view, and registered members can curate their own calendar of interesting events from all events by RSVPing ‘yes’ or ‘interested’ to them like in Facebook. Events can then be added or synched to personal Google, Apple, and Outlook calendars.
The business plan offers everything in the prior plans, along with the ability to develop courses within groups, better analytics, and integrations with other software such as Zapier.
Groups and courses can be ideal if you also hope or wish to create a mom group or teach something in the future. Everything can be housed within one platform including payments. Groups can also have their own events and they will show up as a different color when they view the calendar if a member belongs to one.
For both posts and events, you can schedule to have them post on certain days and times. You can also choose to notify all members when they get posted, ensuring your members see everything that can be interesting to them.
Each Mighty Network also has free app access allowing registered members to receive push notifications if they want. Email notifications as activity happens or as a daily digest is also an option.
The main downside of using Mighty Networks as an event calendar is that it was not originally designed to be used as such. Outside of using different groups, you cannot create filters. On the plus side, it can create a true community in your area and lead to even more possibilities of connection or business growth. They are constantly adding new features and about 1x/year raise their prices according to this new value. Any paying host using their services is grandfathered in all the new developments at whatever price they originally signed up for the tier level they are at.
You can check out how I use Mighty Networks for my own Kid Calendar & Community at minimischiefmanaged.com
The last option I evaluated, but certainly not least, is Trumba. A robust calendar software system, Trumba can do almost anything you might want. You can have a variety of filters, such as city, age range, or type of event (fundraiser, free, whatever). You can choose between a variety of layouts from a traditional calendar to a weekly view, list view, tile view, or map view. Specific events can also be featured and the calendar can be embedded in a variety of forms across websites. You can have a custom submission form. You can create and manage several calendars through one login that lay over one another or exist separately.
Users can also create a profile to manage events they have signed up for.
Trumba offers so many options and sheer variety in style, that if you didn’t know they were all created by Trumba, you could not have guessed.
Check out some of the variety out there: https://www.trumba.com/connect/onlinecalendars/customers.aspx
I’m a fan of this example as it better shows the filter functionality: http://flintcultural.org/calendar.htm
You can try it free for 30 days to see what you think.
Like the rest, however, Trumba has some downsides:
The below are a few more options that sound like they could provide software for a community calendar, but I have not done a free trial myself to explore further.
Locable seems to offer a variety of services, including a calendar option, with the lowest tier being free. However, I have not tried their services and some of the info on their website is hard to understand to know how it would work.
If you wish there was any sort of community calendar in your area, but don’t want to be the one to run it, perhaps this option will help. A local realtor sponsors a hyperlocal area, considered their ParkBench neighborhood, and the software has a feature that combs the internet for events. It’s not foolproof, events can only be seen in list form, and can not be filtered, but it will give your community a way to learn about events without someone specific curating it. Available throughout the US and Canada.
All the info you need to find an event calendar in your area if it exists, and most of the options available if you want to start one of your own! I’d love to know the web address of your community’s event calendar, or which option I mentioned above you liked best!