How to build a calendar with CSS Grid

zellwk profile image Zell Liew 🤗 Originally published at zellwk.com ・4 min read

Building a calendar with CSS Grid is actually quite easy. I want to show you how to do it.

Here's what you'll create by the end of this article:

A calendar built with CSS Grid

Creating the HTML

You can tell from the image that the calendar contains three parts:

  1. The month indicator
  2. The weekday/weekend indicator
  3. The dates themselves

Structure of the calendar

The best way to structure the HTML is to go with what feels right. We'll create the HTML according to these three sections:

<div class="calendar">
  <div class="month-indicator">...</div>
  <div class="day-of-week">...</div>
  <div class="date-grid">...</div>

You should also be able to see we need seven columns for the grid.

Seven columns required for the grid

We'll focus the conversation on .day-of-week and .date-grid since we're only talking about grid.

Structuring the grid

There are two ways to create the CSS Grid.

The first way is to merge elements within .day-of-week and .date-grid into one selector. If we do this, we can set the selector in display: grid. Here's what the HTML would have looked like if we did this:

<div class="grid">
  <!-- Day of week -->

  <!-- Dates -->
  <button><time datetime="2019-02-01">1</time></button>
  <button><time datetime="2019-02-02">2</time></button>
  <button><time datetime="2019-02-03">3</time></button>
  <!-- ... -->
  <button><time datetime="2019-02-28">28</time></button>

I discourage this method because the HTML loses its structural meaning. I prefer keeping .day-of-week and date-grid as separate elements if possible. This makes it easy for me to read/understand the code I've written.

Here's the HTML structure i chose to go with:

<div class="day-of-week">

<div class="date-grid">
  <button><time datetime="2019-02-01">1</time></button>
  <button><time datetime="2019-02-02">2</time></button>
  <button><time datetime="2019-02-03">3</time></button>
  <!-- ... -->
  <button><time datetime="2019-02-28">28</time></button>

The best way to create a CSS Grid with the structure I proposed is to use subgrid. Unfortunately, most browsers don't support subgrid yet. In the meantime, the best way is to create two separate grids—one for .day-of-week and one for .date-grid.

Both .day-of-week and .date-grid can use the same seven-column grid.

/* The grid */
.date-grid {
  display: grid;
  grid-template-columns: repeat(7, 1fr);

1 Feb 2019 begins on a Friday

Pushing the dates

February 2019 begins on a Friday. If we want the calendar to be correct, we need to make sure:

  1. 1 Feb 2019 falls on Friday
  2. 2 Feb 2019 falls on Saturday
  3. 3 Feb 2019 falls on Sunday
  4. And so on...

With CSS Grid, this part is easy.

CSS Grid has placement algorithm that kinda follows the following rules (if you didn't set grid-auto-flow to dense):

  1. Place items that has explicit grid-column or grid-row first
  2. Fill in the rest according to the last-placed item

What this means is:

  1. If the first item falls on column 6
  2. The second item will be placed in column 7.
  3. The third item will be placed on the next row, in column 1 (because there are only seven columns).
  4. The fourth item will be placed in column 2,
  5. And so on...

So, if we position 1 February on the sixth column (friday), the rest of the dates will be placed correctly.

Simple as that!

/* Positioning the first day on a Friday */
.date-grid button:first-child {
  grid-column: 6;

1 Feb 2019 begins on a Friday

Here's a codepen for you to play with:

Want to learn more?

This article contains one fraction of a component (a datepicker) from Learn JavaScript. There's so much more I want to show you. (But they're mostly JavaScript related topics).

For example, in Learn JavaScript, I show you how to:

  1. Build a calendar for any month (and any year)
  2. Add a previous/next button to switch between months
  3. Click on each date to display a date

Here's what it looks like:

Example of the datepicker in action

Thanks for reading. This article was originally posted on my blog. Sign up for my newsletter if you want more articles to help you become a better frontend developer.

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zellwk profile

Zell Liew 🤗


Frontend consultant; teaching frontend to self-taught devs at http://zellwk.com. Currently attempting to demystify Javascript at http://learnjavascript.today.


markdown guide

I hate to be the one to point this out, and I'm as excited about CSS Grids as the next person, and perhaps this is just an interesting exercise to try with Grids... but semantically, this style of one-week-per-row calendars should really be coded using regular HTML tables. ;)


What makes tables a better choice?


Semantics! :) Tables are for representing tabular data, which this style of calendar most certainly is. Each row is a separate week; each column a day of the week. As a bonus, even if the CSS doesn't load properly, a table will display a calendar in an eminently-sensible layout, whereas a calendar built just with semantically-meaningless <div>s will just look like a mess of text strings.

Remember, the kick-back against HTML tables was targeted at their being (mis)used for page layout, NOT against their use with tabular data! :)