• The Kensington Diary

Creating Baby's First Birthday Cake Smash DIY: A 10 Step DIY Guide

Updated: Mar 1, 2019

We had our one year cake smash for Alexander a couple weeks ago, DIY style. Due to popular demand, I am sharing my tips on how to organise one so that you achieve semi-professional style photos, if not more! It's a significant and fun event for a one year old, and provides great photo opportunities and memories, so I certainly recommend doing one. A DIY cake smash is perfectly achievable for a fraction of the cost, but requires much planning for fabulous photos with minimal mess. The entire cake smash cost us ~£60 (Cake: £15;Background £8; Photo stand £25; Balloons £5; Outfit £10).


1) Firstly, choose a theme. Research this on Pinterest and Instagram. Popular examples include, a balloon theme, something vintage or a hot air balloon style. You can also do something brand new and make it your own. Be as creative as you possibly can.

2) Decide on how you want your cake smash photo set to look. Do you want to use props for a 3D effect. Or, are you happy to buy a pretty canvas background such as a candy cane theme, hot air balloon theme (as we did) or other simpler backgrounds that you can individualise.

Backgrounds come in so many designs, so choose one to fit your theme. However, remember that you will need a photography stand to hang these on.

Props require slightly more work to set up, but also have a fabulous effect. Bear in mind it might be slightly more work intensive and slightly more costly. Choose a white wall to display your props against, for the best effect.

3) Once you have chosen your theme, research and buy your props and/or background canvas. Amazon, eBay and Etsy are fabulous resources for this. Some prop ideas are large jewelled, coloured or wooden number ‘one’, bunting, colourful latex or helium balloons that fit a theme, fans or hot air balloon lanterns. Don't make it too over complicated, keep props to the minimum for less distraction.

4) Research and buy your little one’s outfit (Alexander's outfit is linked here). It's a messy affair so I suggest you go as low key and with as little clothing as possible. Popular ideas are a little bow tie and shorts with braces (as Alexander wore) or a little mini skirt or tutu and cropped top for girls. A cute little hair band or hat is always a nice little accessory if you like. Outfits can be found on eBay, Amazon or Etsy. You can also accessorise with pearls for a little girl, if it's a vintage theme for example. Whatever you choose, bear in mind it will get very messy and possibly stained, so be prepared to throw it if need be.

5) So props, set and outfits are done, now time to choose your cake. I suggest choosing a colour that matches or contrasts with your colour theme for great photos. M&S and Waitrose have gorgeous pink, blue and white cakes or go with something from a patisserie if you like. Remember, this cake is going to be smashed and not much eaten, so don't go overboard here. Try to choose a cake with butter icing as it can be smashed easily, as opposed to fondant. White cakes can sometimes not come up so great on camera, if your background is white, so bear this in mind that you want a contrast effect.

You don't need a cake stand, sometimes laying the cake flat on the ground makes it more accessible for your little one, and don't need a high chair either. Having them roam around freely allows for the best shots.

6) Protect your cake smash area. Choose an area that can be well protected with a large mat or one that can be easy to mop up after. Ensure that the room is well lit and enables lots of daylight to stream in. Keep lots of tissues and wipes at hand, ready for the after math, as you will need it.

7) Plan your session taking into account a few factors: baby must be well rested, not hungry or tired, get help for the session (spouse, grandparent or friend) AND you need good light coming into the room

8) Take a few photos before the cake arrives so that you have a good idea of which angles you want to shoot to capture the best effect and lighting

9) Bring baby to the set, then the cake. This is important. Alexander first found the set fascinating and looked around and explored it, then when the cake arrived it was new and was worth focusing on. Not every baby will be excited to dive right in. Our little one doesn't have a sweet tooth for example, so needed lots of coaxing and cheering from his Dad whilst I shot the photos.

10) Edit your photos using light room or photo shop to have a brighter effect with lots of great contrast. But don't over ‘heal’ as a cake smash is meant to be messy and tainted.

Happy Cake Smashing! Do feel free to reach out if you need further guidance or tips.

Much Love

Shanti | The Kensington Diary


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