How to: Customizing and Theming jQuery UI Datepicker

jQuery UI is simply awesome and due to the ease of use, it is popular and widely used in almost any website that need interactive features.

And, in this post, we’ll look at one of the features provided, the Datepicker widget.

We will try to learn how to customize the calendar theme, so that you will be able to create your own theme that will correspond to your overall design. However, you need a bit of understanding in JavaScript and familiarity with CSS before following this tutorial.

If you’re ready, let’s get started.

The Assets

Let’s prepare some of the essential assets for the calendar.

First, the calendar design will refer to this PSD file from Premium Pixels. So we’d better download it first to help us take a sample of the colors we need. Then, download two patterns from Subtle Patterns that we will use as the background of our calendar. In this example, we decided to use the following patterns: black denim and dark leather.

We will also need a web development tool like Firebug to inspect element classes/ids generated by the jQuery UI.

Well, I think we’ve had enough preparation. Now let’s go to the first step.

Step 1: jQuery UI Datepicker

First, go to jQuery UI download page. In this page you’ll be presented with a few options, as follows; the UI Core, Widgets, Interactions and Effects.

We should deselect all the components, as we don’t need all of them.

Then, in the Widgets section select only the datepicker. The jQuery UI will select the essential dependencies automatically, and then download the file.

Link all the downloaded files — except the CSS — to your HTML blank document, as follows:

<script type="text/javascript" src="js/jquery-1.7.1.min.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="js/jquery-ui-1.8.18.custom.min.js"></script>

Step 2: Customizing the Datepicker

In this step, we will configure a datepicker with the following options.

<script type="text/javascript">
			inline: true,
			showOtherMonths: true,
			dayNamesMin: ['Sun', 'Mon', 'Tue', 'Wed', 'Thu', 'Fri', 'Sat'],

The above code will instruct the jQuery to display the calendar on an element with datepicker id. So, we need put the following div tag with — datepicker ID — in the body section to form the calendar:

<div id="datepicker"></div>

Now the calendar should have already been generated and appear like this, plain without any styles, but still has the functionality.

Step 3: The Styles

Now let’s begin styling the calendar. We will start off by normalizing all the elements – as usual – and creating a new stylesheet, in this example I name it datepicker.css. Then link them all to the HTML document.

<link href="css/normalize.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css"/>
<link href="css/datepicker.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css"/>

Then, we will first attach a background to the body so our HTML doesn’t look too plain.

body {
	background: url('../img/darkdenim3.png') repeat 0 0 #555;

Next, we will specify the datepicker’s width, position it to the center and add drop shadow to give the prominece effect to the calendar.

.ui-datepicker {
	width: 216px;
	height: auto;
	margin: 5px auto 0;
	font: 9pt Arial, sans-serif;
	-webkit-box-shadow: 0px 0px 10px 0px rgba(0, 0, 0, .5);
	-moz-box-shadow: 0px 0px 10px 0px rgba(0, 0, 0, .5);
	box-shadow: 0px 0px 10px 0px rgba(0, 0, 0, .5);

We will also remove the default underline decoration from every anchor tag.

.ui-datepicker a {
	text-decoration: none;

The calendar in jQuery UI is formed with a table. So, let’s add 100% width for the table, so it will have the same maximum width as the wrapper above; that is 216px

.ui-datepicker table {
	width: 100%;

Styling the Header Section

The datepicker has a header section containing Month & Year of the calendar. This section will have the dark leather texture we’ve downloaded before with slightly white font color and 1px white shadow at the top.

.ui-datepicker-header {
	background: url('../img/dark_leather.png') repeat 0 0 #000;
	color: #e0e0e0;
	font-weight: bold;
	-webkit-box-shadow: inset 0px 1px 1px 0px rgba(250, 250, 250, 2);
	-moz-box-shadow: inset 0px 1px 1px 0px rgba(250, 250, 250, .2);
	box-shadow: inset 0px 1px 1px 0px rgba(250, 250, 250, .2);
	text-shadow: 1px -1px 0px #000;
	filter: dropshadow(color=#000, offx=1, offy=-1);
	line-height: 30px;
	border-width: 1px 0 0 0;
	border-style: solid;
	border-color: #111;

Next, let’s center the Month position.

.ui-datepicker-title {
	text-align: center;

Replace the Next and Prev text with the sprite arrow images sliced from the PSD.

.ui-datepicker-prev, .ui-datepicker-next {
	display: inline-block;
	width: 30px;
	height: 30px;
	text-align: center;
	cursor: pointer;
	background-image: url('../img/arrow.png');
	background-repeat: no-repeat;
	line-height: 600%;
	overflow: hidden;

Then, adjust the arrow position respectively.

.ui-datepicker-prev {
	float: left;
	background-position: center -30px;
.ui-datepicker-next {
	float: right;
	background-position: center 0px;

While the day names section is wrapped within a thead, based on our design reference, it will have a slightly white gradient. And, to simplify our task, we will use this tool to generate the gradient code:

.ui-datepicker thead {
	background-color: #f7f7f7;
	background-image: -moz-linear-gradient(top,  #f7f7f7 0%, #f1f1f1 100%);
	background-image: -webkit-gradient(linear, left top, left bottom, color-stop(0%,#f7f7f7), color-stop(100%,#f1f1f1));
	background-image: -webkit-linear-gradient(top,  #f7f7f7 0%,#f1f1f1 100%);
	background-image: -o-linear-gradient(top,  #f7f7f7 0%,#f1f1f1 100%);
	background-image: -ms-linear-gradient(top,  #f7f7f7 0%,#f1f1f1 100%);
	background-image: linear-gradient(top,  #f7f7f7 0%,#f1f1f1 100%);
	filter: progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.gradient( startColorstr='#f7f7f7', endColorstr='#f1f1f1',GradientType=0 );
	border-bottom: 1px solid #bbb;

The day names text will have the dark grey color of #666666 and they will also have a thin white text-shadow to give it the pressed effect.

.ui-datepicker th {
	text-transform: uppercase;
	font-size: 6pt;
	padding: 5px 0;
	color: #666666;
	text-shadow: 1px 0px 0px #fff;
	filter: dropshadow(color=#fff, offx=1, offy=0);

At this point, the calendar will appear like this:

Styling the Dates

The calendar dates are wrapped within td or table data. So, we will set the padding to 0 to remove the spaces between the td and give it a right border of 1px.

.ui-datepicker tbody td {
	padding: 0;
	border-right: 1px solid #bbb;

Except for the last td, which will not have right border. We set the right border to 0 for this.

.ui-datepicker tbody td:last-child {
	border-right: 0px;

The table row will be almost the same. It will have a 1px border bottom except for the last row.

.ui-datepicker tbody tr {
	border-bottom: 1px solid #bbb;
.ui-datepicker tbody tr:last-child {
	border-bottom: 0px;

Styling the Default, Hover and Active State

In this step we will define the date hover and active styles. We will first define the date default state by specifying the dimension; center the date text position, add gradient color and inner white shadow.

.ui-datepicker td span, .ui-datepicker td a {
	display: inline-block;
	font-weight: bold;
	text-align: center;
	width: 30px;
	height: 30px;
	line-height: 30px;
	color: #666666;
	text-shadow: 1px 1px 0px #fff;
	filter: dropshadow(color=#fff, offx=1, offy=1);
.ui-datepicker-calendar .ui-state-default {
	background: #ededed;
	background: -moz-linear-gradient(top,  #ededed 0%, #dedede 100%);
	background: -webkit-gradient(linear, left top, left bottom, color-stop(0%,#ededed), color-stop(100%,#dedede));
	background: -webkit-linear-gradient(top,  #ededed 0%,#dedede 100%);
	background: -o-linear-gradient(top,  #ededed 0%,#dedede 100%);
	background: -ms-linear-gradient(top,  #ededed 0%,#dedede 100%);
	background: linear-gradient(top,  #ededed 0%,#dedede 100%);
	filter: progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.gradient( startColorstr='#ededed', endColorstr='#dedede',GradientType=0 );
	-webkit-box-shadow: inset 1px 1px 0px 0px rgba(250, 250, 250, .5);
	-moz-box-shadow: inset 1px 1px 0px 0px rgba(250, 250, 250, .5);
	box-shadow: inset 1px 1px 0px 0px rgba(250, 250, 250, .5);
.ui-datepicker-unselectable .ui-state-default {
	background: #f4f4f4;
	color: #b4b3b3;

When you hover over the date, it will turn to slightly white.

.ui-datepicker-calendar .ui-state-hover {
	background: #f7f7f7;

When the date is in an active state, it will have the following styles.

.ui-datepicker-calendar .ui-state-active {
	background: #6eafbf;
	-webkit-box-shadow: inset 0px 0px 10px 0px rgba(0, 0, 0, .1);
	-moz-box-shadow: inset 0px 0px 10px 0px rgba(0, 0, 0, .1);
	box-shadow: inset 0px 0px 10px 0px rgba(0, 0, 0, .1);
	color: #e0e0e0;
	text-shadow: 0px 1px 0px #4d7a85;
	filter: dropshadow(color=#4d7a85, offx=0, offy=1);
	border: 1px solid #55838f;
	position: relative;
	margin: -1px;

Now, the calendar should look much better.

Fixing the Position

At this point, look at the date carefully. When you click on the date at the first or the last column, you will notice that the active state overflowing a pixel off the calendar edge.

So here, we will do a some small fixes.

First we will decrease the date width to 29px, and set the right margin of the last column and left margin of the first column to 0 to reverse the -1px margin we have set previously for the active state.

.ui-datepicker-calendar td:first-child .ui-state-active {
	width: 29px;
	margin-left: 0;
.ui-datepicker-calendar td:last-child .ui-state-active {
	width: 29px;
	margin-right: 0;

The date at last row of the calendar will also have a similar treatment.

.ui-datepicker-calendar tr:last-child .ui-state-active {
	height: 29px;
	margin-bottom: 0;

Now, let’s see the result. Well, the calendar now looks beautiful and fits perfectly as our design reference. And, you can see the demo and download the source to examine the code from the links below the image.

Bonus: Extend the Calendar

Well, today we have learned quite a lot on how to create a custom theme for jQuery UI Datepicker. But you shouldn’t to stop here, as there are still many things that can be extended from this datepicker. Depending on your jQuery and CSS proficiency you extend the calendar to be like this – text input with an overlay datepicker.

Further Reading

For further reading on jQuery UI. You can read the complete documentation here:

Final Thoughts

Thank you for reading and following this tutorial, I hope you find it useful. And, If you have any feedback or would like to add things that might be missing from this tutorial, feel free to point it out in the comment section below. Thanks (again).