The history of calendars goes back to ancient times, where our ancestors used them to keep track of solar and lunar cycles.

Thousands of years later, we still use planners to organise what we’re doing over the coming weeks and months. There’s something innately satisfying about noting down friends’ birthdays and planning holidays months in advance.

And of course, we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing the best calendars.

After the excitement of the Christmas festivities, January can sometimes be a gloomy month, with icy weather and a mass of festive bills to pay.

But we reckon that treating yourself to a fabulous calendar for the year ahead – or buying a planner for someone else – is the perfect way to start 2020 anew.

We tested a host of 2020 calendars on style, size, practicality and cost and here are our favourites. From super-sized planners that will put a smile on your face to inspirational organisers that will motivate you to achieve great things over the next 12 months, we’ve found a great choice of calendars to guide you through the Year of the Rat.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Oliver Bonas 2020 calendar: £7.50, Oliver Bonas

We like everything about this wall calendar – the zingy artwork, the sturdy ring-binding and the upbeat theme on the front cover: “Work hard, play hard and be kind”. As well as highlighting national holidays in the UK, it includes events such as the London Marathon, the Berlin International Film Festival, the Chelsea Flower Show and World Smile Day. At 31cm x 23cm, we think this chic calendar is excellent value and the pages are made of thick card so it will see you through the year without wearing out.

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Jade Fisher anthology inspirational women 2020 wall calendar: £24, Not on the High Street

Created by South Wales-based artist Jade Fisher, this 29.7cm x 42cm calendar is beautiful to look at and has lots of room to note down important reminders. Best of all, each month features a quote from an inspiring woman, including the likes of novelist Colette, artist Frida Kahlo, singer Nina Simone and author Tove Jansson, along with a half-page illustration of each character. The Victorian designer William Morris once said: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” This calendar is definitely both.

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2020 Stendig calendar: £50.99, Stendig Calendars

Designers, architects and style gurus the world over are fans of this massive calendar. Created by Italian designer Massimo Vignelli for Charles Stendig (founder of Stendig, Inc, furniture importers) in 1966, it measures 122cm x 92cm and is said to be the only calendar that hangs in New York’s famous Museum of Modern Art. The dates are printed in Helvetica font and half the pages are black and the other half are white. It’s pricier than the other calendars we tested but it definitely has the wow factor. Not only that, when you’ve finished with the pages they make ultra-stylish wrapping paper. Stendig calendars are produced in limited numbers so get your skates on if you want to buy one.

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Royal Ballet wall calendar 2020: £10, Amazon

Ballet fans will be charmed by this eye-catching calendar. It features 12 gorgeous colour photographs of the ballet world's most recognisable performances at the Royal Opera House by ballet dancers like Yasmine Naghdi, James Hay, Marianela Nunez, Vadim Muntagirov, Francesca Hayward, Alexander Campbell, Akane Takada, Lauren Cuthbertson and Federico Bonelli. Each picture includes details of the performance in question (everything from Swan Lake to Giselle) to keep you on your toes.

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Sarah Raven garden and cookery year 2020: £6.96, Sarah Raven

Keen cooks and gardeners will appreciate Sarah Raven’s calendar. As well as featuring sumptuous photographs of everything from catkins and hellebores to pumpkins and squash (all taken by photographer Jonathan Buckley in Sarah Raven’s own garden at Perch Hill in East Sussex), it also includes seasonal recipes from her cookery books. In January you can cook chestnut-stuffed pork fillet while in December there’s a recipe for strawberry and white chocolate truffles created by Sarah Raven’s sister, Jane. Just to be extra useful, each page includes a list of jobs to do in the garden – so there’s no excuse for forgetting to order seeds or harvest your tomato crop.

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kikki.K 2020 wall calendar blush: she shines: £15, kikki.K

This blush pink calendar from kikki.K, the global Swedish design and stationery brand, is pretty as a picture. Each month features uplifting quotes – like “passion fuels purpose” for January and “be fearless in the pursuit of your dreams” for September – to motivate and inspire you through the year. There’s plenty of room on each page for notes, important dates and reminders so if you’re hoping to achieve great things in 2020 this planner will help you along the way.

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The Gruffalo 2020 family planner: £4.99, Ryman

Children will also enjoy writing reminders on this calendar, inspired by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child. It includes space for up to five members of the family to note down important events and an ingenious drop-down pocket to store invitations and reminders and, best of all, it comes with more than 150 fun stickers – everything from birthdays and holidays to parties and sleepovers, plus characters from The Gruffalo. If you’re anything like us, the grown-ups will like the stickers too.

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Martha Brook personalised this is 2020 desk calendar: £17.60, Not on the High Street

Anything is possible. That’s the sentiment behind this personalised desk calendar from London-based stationery company Martha Brook. It comes in a choice of six colours – ivory white, midnight blue, rose pink, royal purple, sky blue and slate grey – and the recipient’s name can be printed in gold, silver or copper foil. The calendar measures 21.8cm x 15.2cm and is filled with month-to-view pages so you can check dates at a glance. Sturdy and elegant, this is a lovely desk accessory.

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Emma Bridgewater anemone family organiser 2020: £8.95, Emma Bridgewater

Emma Bridgewater is famous for its boldly painted pottery, but the eponymous British brand produces everything from kettles to tea towels. This family organiser, with a striking Emma Bridgewater design for each month, will keep everyone on the straight and narrow in 2020. There’s space for up to six names to note what they’re doing each day, as well as details of bank holidays, moon phases and important dates. The layout is clear and pleasing to the eye and the calendar is made of thick card so it will stand a year’s worth of wear and tear.

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London Transport Museum 2020 buses calendar: £12, London Transport Museum Shop

This is the perfect present to keep keen bus spotters on track. Each month features a picture of a different London bus, along with fascinating facts about the bus in question. The buses date back to 1910 and range from the Battlebus B-Type, which carried troops and supplies behind enemy lines during the First World War, to the famous Routemaster, London’s longest serving bus. Every purchase calendar supports London Transport Museum’s charitable work.

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The verdict: 2020 calendars

Our favourite is the Oliver Bonas 2020 calendar: its cheery pages will bring a smile to your face on the greyest winter day and inspire you to work hard, play hard and be kind for the next 12 months. If you’re happy to splash the cash the Stendig Calendar is a design classic – and the bonus is that you can use the pages to wrap up next year’s Christmas presents.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.