Getting Granny Google: Creating a shared family birthday calendar (Tech Education Experiment)

davidfchang
6 min readMar 2, 2016

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Granny rocking it.

Coming from a large non tech savvy family, it has always been my duty to try and bring easy to use tools to them. After my grandma and aunts saw they could start using Google Calendar to organize everyday life as well as family issues, they asked me if we could keep up with all of our family’s birthdays in a single shared agenda.

Getting new grandchildren yearly and adding new marriages to the picture, I soon understood this can easily become an issue.

Today we will learn how to create and share a family calendar, and we’ll learn how to add our family birthdays too, so when your family grows large, you never fall behind on the memory lane.

GOOGLE CALENDAR

The Google Calendar logo.

Google Calendar (or G-cal for short) is tech giant Google's approach to an internet based calendar. Google Calendar is greatly used in the tech industry and has grown over the past few years as the go to calendar service for meeting coordination.

As part of Google's vision for collaborative work, Google Calendars can be shared with other peers via email. This allows for coworkers, friends, and in this case, families, to share events and match dates to set up meetings.

Google Calendar can be accessed by visiting calendar.google.com in any browser, and does not require any software installation on your part. There is also a Google Calendar application for Android and iOS devices, that makes this service even more convenient.

CREATE A FAMILY SHARED CALENDAR

  1. Go to calendar.google.com
  2. Click the arrow next to My Calendars, then click Create New Calendar
  3. On the Create New Calendar page, add a name and description for your Family Calendar, and select a time zone that most fits your family’s schedules.
  4. If you want the calendar to be available for anyone with a link, you can optionally tick the Make This Calendar Public check box.
  5. Go to the Share with specific people section, and then add all of your family’s email addresses. Make sure these are email accounts they regularly use (preferably Gmail) so they can easily access the calendar.
  6. Under Permission Settings, select Make changes to events for family members, if you think this calendar may also be used for adding additional events such as birthday parties or meeting events. If that is not the case, you can leave them in their See all event details default option.
  7. Remember to click the Add Person button for each family member email address you add, and after reviewing you’re not leaving anyone out, click the Create Calendar button below.
  8. Ensure your family members received a Google Calendar email inviting them to join the calendar you just created. That way, you make sure they add this family Calendar to their respective Google Calendar accounts. This will take you back to the Calendar view.
Creating a New Calendar inside Google Calendar.

In the Calendar View, you can now optionally choose a calendar color, and if any changes or edits are needed you can always hover over the family calendar’s name, and click the arrow that appears next to it to go back to its settings and explore other options. Please keep in mind that clicking Hide this calendar will remove it from you calendar view, so if you’re not seeing your events, try coming back here to make sure it’s not hidden for some reason.

ADD ALL DAY BIRTHDAY EVENTS

Now that we’ve successfully created a Family calendar, we’ll be able to see it in the My Calendars list. We’ll move on to adding a birthday for each family member.

  1. In order to add an All Day Event like a birthday, you can click on the boxes over your Calendar View. You’ll then get a pop up dialog that asks you for event details. Once here, click the Edit event link. This will take you to the new event’s page.
  2. On the Event page, give the event a name. Since this will be a birthday, you can add something like “David’s Birthday”. Pro tip: If you’re on a Mac, you can press “control + command + spacebar” to show a dialog with Emojis! You can freely decorate your event names with these, and they will appear in everyone’s Calendar views.
Creating an All day event in the Calendar view.

EDITING EVENTS TO REPEAT

  1. Make sure you put your family member’s date of birth as the event date, like this: dd/mm/yyyy. Make sure the All day event box is clicked, and then tick the Repeat… checkbox.
  2. After clicking the Repeat checkbox, select Yearly in the dropdown menu next to Repeats, and make sure it Repeats every 1 year and Never Ends. A neat way to double check this is the Summary section below. It should say something like: “Summary: Annually on April 13”, with your family member’s birthday in it. Click on Done on this dialog.
  3. On the Event details tab, next to Calendar, make sure you select your Family calendar in the drop down box. Add an event color and a funny description, and then click the red Save button on top to make sure it all went well. This will take you back to the Calendar view. Note: If you added an emoji to the event name, they will appear as blank spaces in the event detail name, but you’ll still see them in the calendar view.
Creating repeating events.

Once back in the Calendar view, repeat steps 1 to 5 for each family member. You can also check if birthdays appear for your upcoming years by navigating the Mini Calendar in the upper left corner of the Calendar view to the dates you added.

BONUS: ADD REMINDERS TO YOUR CALENDAR EVENTS

If you want to remind yourself about specific dates, Google Calendar gives you the option of emailing you and creating pop-up notifications before an event starts. These notifications will show up in any device you link with your Google Calendar account, including your computers and your mobile devices. In order to do this, you need to be in any Event page and follow the next steps:

  1. Go to the Notifications section below the Event Colors.
  2. Click on the Add a notification link. This should create a new notification line.
  3. Select wether you want to create a Pop-up or Email notification from the first drop down selector.
  4. Add the number of days or weeks before the event you want to set that notification for, and select the time you want that to trigger.
  5. Click on the Red Save button at the top of the event details page.
Setting up notifications inside an event page.

If you made a mistake, or want to remove a notification, you can quickly delete them by clicking the gray X icon next to each row.

YOU'RE NOW AN AWESOME FAMILY MEMBER!

And you’re done! I hope this is useful for your family, and please don’t hesitate to share this with them so they can also create a family calendar of their own!

If any calendar member was granted permission to Make Changes, she or he will also be able to add birthdays for new family members and edit anything within previously created events.

They will also be able to create upcoming events, such as weddings, parties, or random meetings. After this, you will graduate as the techie member of your family, so make sure you remain serene whenever auntie promotes your wiz kid super powers at family gatherings!

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davidfchang

Technology adoption, market creation, and capacity building in LATAM. Ecuatoriano.