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The Best Planners for 2018-2019 (Tea with Tolkien Edition)

The Best Planners for 2018-2019 (Tea with Tolkien Edition)

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I know so many of you are looking into purchasing a planner for this upcoming academic year, so I thought I'd share a bit about some of the planners I tested out for you! I asked a few months back which ones you'd like me to try out and chose the ones that seemed the best, so I hope you'll find one you like! Here's a list of the planners that I'm comparing: The Blessed is She Planner (Big & Mini), The Recollections Brand from Michaels, The Living Well Planner, and the Day Designer (Mini).  Buckle up, friends, this is going to be a long post...! 


The Blessed is She Planner (Regular)

  • Total Cost: $58 + $12.50 flat rate shipping (or $68 with free shipping on Amazon)

  • Size: 8 x 10 (veryyyyyy large)

  • Design Style: Grey with Gold Foil accents, clean lines, hand lettering by Erica Tighe

  • Cover & Binding: Soft-touch lamination on a hardcover; Gold coil binding

  • Paper Quality: 80 lb (120 gsm)

  • Pockets: One double-sided pocket

  • Goal Planning: weekly planning (includes grocery list, meal planning, to-do, goals, intentions, and notes)

  • Notes Section: 5 pages in the back

  • What Makes it Special: The Blessed is She planner includes so many tools for living according to the Catholic liturgical year - that's what makes it unique! There is a section in the beginning which includes prayers, and the major liturgical dates of importance are written in the monthly spread as well as weekly. There are also reminders to pray certain novenas.

  • Daily/Weekly/Monthly: August 2018 – July 2019; 2 Page Monthly Spread; 2 Page Weekly Spread with Hourly Appointment lines, space for 4 daily to-do's, "I loved my Body, Soul, Mind"


  • Compared to the Day Designer, the pages are so incredibly thick! This was the biggest difference in quality that I've noticed. The metal binding also feels a lot stronger than the Day Designer.

  • I prefer to purchase from Blessed is She rather than another company because the money I spend in their shop directly supports their ministry.

  • The pockets are hugely improved from last year! They are now located on the inside of the front and back covers.

  • New this year: there is a shopping list on the edge of the weekly spread so you can cut it out with you and take it to the store! The pockets are also improved.

The Blessed is She Planner (Mini)

  • Total Cost: $48 (plus $12.50 for shipping)

  • Size: 6.25 x 8.25

  • Design Style: Grey with Gold Foil accents, clean lines, hand lettering by Erica Tighe (Same as the BIS Regular)

  • Cover & Binding: (Same)

  • Paper Quality: (Same)

  • Pockets (Same)

  • Goal Planning: Monthly 2 page spread (includes faith focus, personal, family, work, fun, to-do's, and intentions)

  • Notes Section: 9 pages in the back!

  • What Makes it Special: Everything you love about Blessed is She, now in a smaller size! This planner is great if you still want to keep track of the liturgical calendar but don't want the extra bulk and planning space of the original size.

  • Daily/Weekly/Monthly: Weekly 2 Page Spread organized as Daily To-Do's; there is space for 12 to-do's each weekday, plus a line for listing something you're grateful for.

Differences between the Blessed is She Full Size & Mini

  • Size (obviously) - The Mini is just as thick but so much smaller! I can totally see myself throwing the mini in my purse when I'm out, whereas the regular sized one is huge.

  • Weekly Layouts - The Regular size offers a lot more features for the weekly spread. There is a full 2-page section before each week for meal planning, weekly to-do's, and notes; then turn the page and there are hourly appointment slots and to-do's for each day of that week. So 4 pages dedicated to each week. With the mini, there is a simple 2 page spread of to-do's and a line for gratitude each day.

  • Monthly Goals - This is my favorite feature of the BIS Mini! There is a 2 page spread for goal-setting at the beginning of each month, which isn't available in the regular since it has weekly goals instead.

  • Notes - There are more pages for notes in the Mini surprisingly!

Recollections Creative Year Planner

  • Total Cost: Regularly $29.99 (but you can use a coupon at Michael's)

  • Size: 7.5" x 9.25"

  • Design Style: SO MANY styles! Most of them are very colorful and fun.

  • Cover & Binding: Laminated Cardstock with Metal Spiral Binding

  • Paper Quality: n/a

  • Pockets: 1 Clear Zip Pocket, 1 Pocket Folder

  • Goal Planning: None

  • Notes Section: 7 Pages for Notes in the Back

  • What Makes it Special: Also includes 4 sheets of stickers! This planner is a lot like the Erin Condren planners but at a fraction of the price. Some have horizontal weekly layouts and others have vertical ones (with each day broken into 3 sections).

  • Daily/Weekly/Monthly: 18 Month Academic (August 2018 - December 2019); 2 Page Monthly Spread; 2 Page Weekly Spread; Small notes sections on weekly page.


  • These planners are great for anyone who doesn't want to spend a ton on a planner. They're already at a great price but I'm almost certain you'll be able to get them on sale.

  • The laminated cover is very sturdy and the binding seems very durable.

  • The interior design is simple enough but also very colorful and cheerful.

  • This planner doesn't have any special elements to it -- it's a very basic, classic planner, which makes a great clean slate for personalizing it!

  • Overall: This planner is a good fit for anyone who wants to grab a cute, sturdy planner at a fraction of the price of the other fancy planners on the market. It doesn't have any special frills or goal planning, but there's enough room to make it your own and have fun with it! There are so many designs to choose from, and it's nice because you can go grab one from your local Michael's instead of having to order online.

Living Well Planner

  • Total Cost: $45 plus shipping (depends on your address, mine was about $6)

  • Size: 7.5 x 9.5

  • Design Style: SUPER bright and cheery! Lots of rainbow colors. Classy design.

  • Cover & Binding: Blue and white striped hardcover with metal corners and gold coil binding.

  • Paper Quality: 60lb

  • Pockets: 1 on Inside Cover

  • Goal Planning: SO MUCH GOAL PLANNING! Space at the beginning for yearly goals (broken down into months), a monthly goals section ("big three", personal, fun, health, home, finance, connection, monthly motto, and top goal). then a "Goal Crushing" workpage, and a project planning work page -- one for every month! Then at the end of each month, there's a page for a monthly budget, monthly expenses, thoughts & thanks. At the end of the planner, there is a page for a cleaning schedule.

  • Notes Section: There are notes pages throughout the whole planner, usually at the end of each month.

  • What Makes it Special: This planner has sooooooo much to it! There are so many tools for helping you stay focused on your goals throughout each month. There are also motivational quotes at the beginning of each month.

  • Daily/Weekly/Monthly: This planner is undated and has room for 12 months. There's a 2 Page Monthly spread and a 2 Page Weekly Spread. Each day has appointment slots from 6am - 10pm, as well as 3 Must-Do's, and a meal prep section. There's also a to-do list for the whole week and a "big days" section on the weekly spread.


  • This planner has sooooo much to help you track your goals and accomplish them!

  • I love that it's *undated* so you can start anytime and the price point is lower than the others.

  • It's printed in full color on the inside, and the whole planner gives off a very cheerful vibe.

  • I thought some of the motivational quotes were cheesy (but motivational quotes aren't really my thing).

  • Overall: This planner is great if you're a fan of the super colorful design and are motivated by lots of space for planning out your goals!

Day Designer (Mini)

  • Total Cost: $49 (plus $12.50 for shipping)

  • Size: 6.625” wide x 8.3” tall

  • Design Style: Very clean lines and simple, modern design.

  • Cover & Binding: I love the black and white stripes but they also have a few others. The Cover is a glossy laminated hard cover with metal corners, and the coil is a lightweight metal.

  • Paper Quality: 90 GSM (24 lb)

  • Pockets: 1 on the Inside Cover

  • Goal Planning: At the beginning of the planner there is a Reality Check, a "My Core" section, Goals and Intentions, Ideal Month, and Ideal Week.

  • Notes Section: there are a few random notes pages in the planner where a month ends on an uneven page. Other than that, there isn't a section for notes.

  • What Makes it Special: The Day Designer offers a unique daily planning system! It's great if you have very busy days with lots of appointments and to-do's.

  • Daily/Weekly/Monthly: There's a 2 Page Monthly spread, and then every day gets its own page (with Saturday and Sunday sharing one page).


  • I love that Day Designer allows you to try their planning system for free before you buy, offering free printables of nearly every page of the planner. You can browse their printables here.

  • There's a whole goal planning section at the beginning of the planner which definitely would help with gathering thoughts, goals, and priorities for the year.

  • The unique daily planner is super helpful if you have a lot of to-do lists as well as daily appointments. Since I'm a mostly stay-at-home mom, I don't really have a lot of things going on at certain times so I don't really use this part of the planner.

  • I love the sections at the top of each day's pages: today's top three, due, dinner, dollars, and don't forget. There's also a spot for daily gratitude and a notes section, which comes in handy.

  • There isn't much room to plan out a week, aside from a small space on the bottom of the Saturday & Sunday page. The focus of the Day Designer, understandably, is planning each day. So there isn't a big focus on looking at the week as a whole.

  • The pages of the Day Designer (90 GSM, compared to the 216 GSM of the Blessed is She planner) felt cheap and left me disappointed. After spending $49 (plus $12.50 for shipping) on a planner, I expected the paper to be thicker. Instead, I felt stressed out every time I turned the page because compared to the Blessed is She planner (which I've been using for the past 2 years) it felt like the pages could rip out accidentally.

  • I also didn't feel like the metal coil binding was the best quality because it has already bent a bit even though I haven't begun using it, and it gives me a bit of trouble when I try to turn the page.

  • Overall: The Day Designer offers a unique method for organizing your daily life, especially if you have many different scheduled tasks throughout the day. The paper and binding quality is not as high as the Blessed is She planner, which left me feeling bummed out that I had spent so much money on it. With the Day Designer, you are paying for the trendy brand name and the innovative daily planning method.


category winners

  • Thickest Paper: Blessed is She (lowest paper quality goes to Day Designer)

  • Sturdiest Cover & Binding: Living Well

  • Most "Extras": Living Well

  • Best Design: Blessed is She

  • Best Price: Recollections

  • Smallest Planner: Day Designer (although it is very thick!)


 My Personal Favorite? The Blessed is She Mini


Which Planner is Right for you?

If you love the colorful style & have a bunch of goals to crush: Living Well Planner

If you love to follow along with the liturgical year: The Blessed is She Planner

If you have a jam-packed busy day, everyday: The Day Designer

If you want a great planner on a budget: Recollections

Honorable Mentions

I've used these planners below in the past and loved them but didn't test them out this year (although I did look through the Rifle Paper Co. planner and was *this* close to buying it this year... it's so beautiful!)

Silmarillion Book Club (Week Three)

Silmarillion Book Club (Week Three)

Valaquenta (Silmarillion Book Club Week Two)

Valaquenta (Silmarillion Book Club Week Two)