Cute and Easy DIY Cake Smash Photo Shoot Ideas

I love cake smash photos! I think it is so stinkin adorable to see the delight on the kiddos’ faces when they taste that icing for the first time or the disgust when they can’t understand why they are being asked to touch that sticky, sugary stuff.

There was definitely no disgust this past weekend, when I did a cake smash photo shoot with our baby girl. I never did one with the boys and now I am kicking myself! The photos turned out so well!

cake smash photos ideas

I have to say that the success of the photos was partly due to the super cute bubble-inspired cake idea that I got from the gorgeous Ashlyn over at Loves The Find.

cake smash photos

Ashlyn is pretty much a new kindred spirit. She loves coffee, finding vintage deals, DIY projects, and anything budget-friendly! Sound familiar? If she didn’t live so far away, I’m pretty sure a girl date at a local coffee shop would be in order.

She is here on the blog today, to share some super cute and awesome DIY ideas and tips for an amazing birthday cake smash photo shoot!

Cute and Easy DIY Cake Smash Photo Shoot Ideas

Hello there, lovely readers of And This Marine Wife! I’m Ashlyn, the writer behind Loves the Find, a DIY and budget living blog. My husband and I share a great love story along with a strong passion for budget friendly shopping. I’m extremely honored that Lydia wanted to collaborate and used my DIY Bubble Inspired Cake for her daughter’s cake smash photo shoot. The photos turned out amazing and I couldn’t be more tickled! To round out your cake smash session, I have two fabulous DIY craft tutorials to share along with a list of the best tips and tricks to create the most stunning first birthday photos you can imagine.

DIY Custom Wooden Blocks

These wooden blocks are not only an adorable addition to your photos, but can serve as a beautiful décor piece in your nursery after. The wooden blocks come in all different sizes, but for a short name like Liam I decided to do the larger 3.5” cube size.

Here is what you will need:

  • Wooden Blocks (I used 3.5” but you can go smaller or larger)
  • Scrapbook Paper
    • I used 2 sheets of the two patterns I choose (chevron and the elephants) but you can choose to use more patterns to cover the sides of the blocks if you want
    • I used 1 sheet of the thicker green paper for the name cut-outs
  • Scissors
  • Mod Podge – Matte Finish
  • Bristle or Foam Brush
  • Covering for working station (I used an old poster board, but you can use cardboard or anything you don’t mind glue getting on)

cake smash photo shoot


  1. Pick out the paper you want to use to cover the sides with
  2. Place the block in a corner of your paper and draw an outline of the other two sides that aren’t the edges (this creates a sharp edge and great guideline for your template to use)
  3. Once you have the outline, cut the two lines you made to end with a square template that you can use to continue with around your paper. I just put the template on top of my paper sections and cut around instead of drawing each square separately, but that is completely up to you! Each block is a cube and will have 6 sides to fill. So for Liam’s name I cut out 24 squares using both patterns.
  4. Once you have all the squares cut for your blocks, start adhering the cut-outs one-by-one by brushing on a little Mod Podge glue directly on the wood and then placing your paper cut-out on top (you like my little helper? , I showed her what I was doing on the non-glue blocks and she was all about helping!).
  5. Once all of your cutouts are attached, pick the “best” side and what pattern you want showing for each letter of the name you are creating.
  6. Create cut-outs of each letter of the name by either free handing (which is what I did) or you can find stencils for each letter.
  7. Apply you letter cut-outs by brushing a little glue directly on the back of the letter and then sticking it to the block.
  8. Finish the blocks by covering all sides with another layer of Mod Podge.

cake smash photo shoot

Once the blocks are all dried (took about 2 hours) they are ready to use! How adorable did these turn out? I hope Liam loves them in his room too!

cake smash photo shoot

DIY Safari Banner

The next tutorial is for creating the safari banner above. I mean how gorgeous it it?!? I’ve created multiple version of this DIY cake banner (including this baby shower cake) and all are so unique! For this one I used animals I found at the thrift store for $1.90 (bag containing the elephant, giraffe, and trees)!

Here is what you will need:

  • Safari animals (also consider doing this with other figurines or trucks)
  • Straws/kabob sticks (I had leftover bamboo straws from a tropical themed party, but these can really be any color)
  • String
  • Scrapbook Paper (I used the leftovers from the cube project)
  • Scissors
  • Hot Glue
  • Letter stickers

cake smash photo shoot


  1. Cut the paper in about 3″ long rectangle and ¾” wide and bend the paper in half so it is like a small tent, then make the V by cutting into the middle from both sides
  2. Place the letter stickers on the paper
  3. Once the letters are all made, take your string and put the inside crease of you tent over the twine and secure the two side together over the twine with hot glue
  4. Once all letters are attached to the twine, put the straws against the animal and measure how far your string needs to be and where on the animal you will attach the straw
  5. Once you have an idea of where everything needs to be glued, attach the straw to your animal using hot glue
  6. Then you are ready to attach the banner by simply wrapping around the straw and securing with hot glue

cake smash photo shoot

Cake Smash Photo Shoot Tips

To complete the perfect cake smash session, here are my top tips and tricks:

Natural light is best

Non-distracting backdrop

    • I personally like using natural elements like the bushes/fence in this shoot, think about going to a park, beach, using a brick building
    • Make the subject the focus not the backdrop

Pick a theme or colors

    • The safari animal theme was perfect for Liam down to his animal shirt and overalls!
    • For my daughter’s cake smash I picked the colors or pink, white and gold as a consistent color palette for the shoot. It was also a fun to make it super girly with a custom tutu and pearl necklace.
    • If Dad has a uniform and you want to incorporate a hat or badge, this would be a great theme to start from as well!

Add props

    • Along with the wooden blocks think about using things from the nursery or go hunting for items that fit your theme or color palette. Anything already personalized is fabulous!
      • Books, chairs, stools, crates, blankets, balloons
      • Create chalkboards or signs
        • If you can find a large picture or mirror and paint the backing with chalkboard paint, this make a fabulous sign with a pretty frame!
        • The chalkboards I used for my daughter’s cake smash were just thick poster board and completed using a chalk paint pen. They turned out awesome!
cake smash photo shoot
Kimberly Lyddane Photography

Decide on the cake

    • I’ve made both my daughter’s first birthday and second birthday cakes and they were fabulous! There are so many tutorials for icing a cake that cake decorating is attainable for the average person now and saves you so much money!
    • If you want to go the healthy way, there are also some great recipes using bananas and applesauce.
    • Short on time? No worries! Just jazz up a store bought cake, which is what I did for Liam. We had so much detail we wanted to pop that the pre-made white cake was perfect!

Include the family

    • The best shoots or when you get some family photos in too! If they don’t want to be in the photos, they will have an amazing time just watching your little one dive into their first cake!! The joy it brings to their little tummies makes everyone smile!
    • Family and friends can also help wrangle and get that smile out of them, so the more the better!

cake smash photo shoot

I hope you’ve enjoyed my tutorials and best tips for making your cake smash shoot a success!! Let me know how it goes!

About Ashlyn | Loves the Find

cake smash photos
Kimberly Lyddane Photography

Hi y’all! I’m Ashlyn, a working mother with a love for sparkly vintage things, DIY, healthy eating, coffee, fitness, animals (especially horses), and anything that saves me money. My husband and I share a great love story along with a strong passion for budget friendly shopping. We have had many great trips to antique shops, flea markets, yard sales, and our favorite little thrift stores. Our time together has taught us that money doesn’t buy happiness. Savvy tricks, unique pieces and imagination really make a house a home and your closet “designer”. To say the least we both love the find!

With our own path to savings, furthered by the birth of our beautiful daughter, I wanted to build a blog catered to the vintage hunter, budget friendly shopper, and DIY-er.

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Thank you for your awesome post, Ashlyn!

Have you ever done a cake smash photo shoot with one of your kids? Did you do a theme?


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