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Tips for an Affordable Baby’s Cake Smash Session

Tips for an Affordable Baby’s Cake Smash Session

A baby’s cake smash session is a delightful way to commemorate your little one’s first birthday, capturing the joy and messiness of their first encounter with cake. However, organizing this memorable event doesn’t have to drain your savings. By focusing on creativity and resourcefulness, you can orchestrate a cake smash session that’s both adorable and affordable. Whether you’re a soon-to-be mother exploring options or a new parent eager to celebrate your baby’s milestone cost-effectively, this guide will walk you through tips and tricks to save money while still making the occasion special and memorable.

What is a Cake Smash Session?

A cake smash session is an increasingly popular photo shoot tradition that celebrates a baby’s first birthday in a uniquely fun and messy way. It typically involves letting the birthday child have their way with a small cake, smearing, smashing, and even eating it, all while being photographed.

This playful event not only marks the milestone of turning one but also captures the pure, unfiltered reactions of children as they interact with the cake. Started in the US, the concept has gained popularity globally, serving as a joyful and informal way to commemorate this special occasion.

The allure of cake smash photography lies in its ability to preserve the fleeting moments of childhood innocence and curiosity, offering families a treasure trove of memories to look back on.

What does a cake smash session include?

A cake smash session may seem straightforward, but it’s a compilation of well-thought-out elements designed to make the experience enjoyable and photograph worthy. Here’s what a typical session includes:

  • The Cake: Central to the celebration, the cake is often vibrant and eye-catching, tailored to be soft and smashable for little hands. It’s usually custom-made to match the theme of the photo shoot. Choosing the right cake for your baby’s session is crucial for those insta-worthy shots.
  • Theme and Decor: Most sessions have a theme that guides the choice of decorations, outfits, and cake design. This could range from simplistic and elegant to vibrant and elaborate themes, all aimed at creating a cohesive and visually appealing setup.
  • Photographer: Professional photography services are typically employed to capture the messy, adorable chaos. Some photographers offer cake smash packages that include the cake, decorations, and a set number of edited photos.
  • Outfit: A special outfit for the baby is a key part of the session. Many choose outfits that complement the theme, adding an extra cute factor to the photos. Options can include tutus, rompers, or cartoon costumes designed for easy cleaning post-smash.
  • Location: While many prefer indoor setups for ease of control and decoration, outdoor sessions can offer natural lighting and backgrounds that enhance the beauty of the moment. The choice often depends on the photographer’s advice, weather conditions, and the parents’ preference.

Each of these elements combines to create a fun-filled, memorable experience not just for the baby but for the parents and siblings, too. Planning and customizing each component allows families to have a unique celebration that encapsulates the fleeting moments of their baby’s first year, creating memories they can cherish forever. For more in-depth planning guides and ideas, check out our latest articles on

How old should a baby be for a cake smash?

The ideal age for a cake smash session is around one. This timing isn’t merely coincidental; it celebrates the significant milestone of turning one year old, marking a transition from infancy to toddlerhood. Planning the session close to the actual birth date allows the cake smash to double as a birthday celebration, making the occasion even more special.

However, it’s common for parents to schedule the photo shoot a few weeks before the child’s birthday. This approach provides ample time to use the photos for birthday invitations, party decorations, or thank you cards for the actual celebration where the cake is sliced, not smashed.

Can we do a cake smash session at home?

Absolutely! Hosting a cake smash session at home is not only feasible but also a fantastic way to keep the celebration intimate and budget-friendly. Doing it yourself allows for greater flexibility in scheduling, and you can customize every aspect to suit your baby’s personality and your family’s preferences.

With some planning and creativity, you can set up a captivating scene right in your living room, garden, or any space that accommodates your vision. To create a memorable at-home cake smash, start by selecting a space with good natural lighting to ensure beautiful photos.

Next, choose a theme that resonates with your family or matches your baby’s nursery. This can guide your choices for decorations, the cake, and your baby’s outfit. For the backdrop, use materials like fabric, paper decorations, or even a simple, tasteful banner that complements your theme. For baby’s first birthday, you may just want to focus on the birthday cake — no need for an expensive or ornate cake stand.

When it comes to photography, you can decide between hiring a professional photographer who is willing to do home visits or taking the DIY route with a good-quality camera or smartphone. Many parents find that the latter adds a personal touch to the photos, capturing candid moments that a professional might miss.

Lastly, the cake! Opting for a homemade cake allows you to control ingredients (no added sugar, artificial sweeteners or colors in the icing or cake), ensuring it’s safe and suitable for your baby. There are plenty of easy, baby-friendly cake recipes online that are perfect for smashing with little ones. If you overpay for a cake for the birthday session, it may seem like a such a waste to not even eat much of it. Instead, the goal is to have a soft, manageable cake that your little one can dig into and make a big mess of without much difficulty. To reduce waste, you could try cupcake cakes, too, which is just a small version that’s more appropriate for a special occasion for baby’s first birthday.

Simple Cake Smash Decoration Ideas that don’t cost a lot?

Tiny Cake

A cake smash session is messy but it doesn’t have to break the bank. After all, your child will be happy just being alone to smash cake. But, with a little imagination, you can create a beautiful cake setup without spending too much. Here are some simple decoration ideas that won’t cost a lot:

DIY Balloon Garland

A balloon garland sets the color scheme for your cake smash and party, without breaking the bank. All you need are balloons in various sizes and colors matching your theme, string, and a needle to thread them together. The beauty of a DIY balloon garland is its flexibility; you can create any length to fit your space perfectly.

Handmade Paper Banners

Crafting a paper banner is a waste-free yet simple and effective way to add a personal touch to your birthday decorations. Choose paper colors that complement your theme. Cut out triangles, snowflakes, or any shape you prefer. String them together with twine or ribbon, and hang your banners in groups for a charming backdrop.

Tissue Paper Pom-Poms

Tissue paper pom-poms are easy to make and can transform your space into a festive area. Stack several layers of tissue paper, fold them accordion-style, tie the center with a string, and gently pull apart the layers to create a fluffy pom-pom. Hang them at different heights for a whimsical effect.

Outdoor Natural Setting

If you’re doing the session outdoors, take advantage of the natural beauty around you. A park or your backyard can provide a stunning backdrop with minimal effort. Use natural elements like flowers, stones, and leaves to enhance the setting without spending a dime. Remember to take advantage of the sunlight for ideal timing for cake smash sessions.

Chalkboard Sign

Create a personalized touch with a chalkboard sign. Most parents want their babies to sit next to it, so that the message is captured in photos. You can pick up an inexpensive chalkboard and write a cute message, your baby’s name, or the date. It’s a creative way to add character to your pictures, and the setup can be reused for future celebrations.

By incorporating cost-effective cake stand decoration ideas and a larger cake top, you can create a beautiful and memorable cake smash session for your little one without the need for a large budget.

How Much Does a Cake Smash Session Cost?

The cost of a cake smash session can vary widely depending on several factors such as location, the photographer’s expertise, decorations, and whether or not you decide to bake the cake yourself or order one.

On average, professional cake smash photography packages range from $250 to over $600. That’s a big deal for a baby. This price often includes the session fee, a set number of edited digital images, and sometimes the cake and decorations, depending on the photographer.

If you choose to DIY the session, costs can be significantly lower. Baking your own cake and using homemade or budget-friendly decorations can reduce expenses, potentially bringing the total cost down to under $100. If your kid is a bit older — maybe 2 or 3 — making the cake or cupcakes might be part of the experience. However, if you opt for a professionally made custom cake, prices can vary from $40 to $100 or more.

Ultimately, the cost of other cakes all comes down to personal choices regarding the session’s scale, the location, and how much of the planning and preparation you’re willing to undertake yourself. With careful planning and a bit of creativity, you can create a delightful cake smash experience that fits within your budget.

What Factors Affect the Cost of a Cake Smash Session?

The total expenditure for a cake smash session can be influenced by various elements, impacting how much parents end up spending. Here’s a breakdown of the primary factors:


The choice of location can significantly affect the cost. Holding the session at a professional studio or a rented venue may introduce rental fees, whereas doing it at home or a public park can minimize or eliminate this cost.


The photographer’s fees are a major factor, with costs varying based on their experience, reputation, time on site, and package offerings. More experienced photographers or those specializing in baby photography might charge a premium.


The complexity and source of the decorations can influence the overall cost. DIY decorations or using items you already own can keep costs low, while bespoke or themed decorations from professional party suppliers may increase expenses.

The Cake

Whether you opt for a homemade cake or a professionally made one can sway the cost. Custom cakes from bakeries, especially those with intricate designs or special ingredients, tend to be pricier than homemade cakes.

Outfits and Accessories

Some parents may choose to purchase a special outfit for the occasion, including accessories like crowns, hats, or tutus. The cost will vary depending on the type of outfit and where it’s purchased from.

Photography Props

Professional photographers might use various props to enhance the photos. If these are not included in the photography package, they may incur an additional charge.

By understanding these factors, parents can better manage their budgets and make informed decisions when planning a cake smash session, ensuring it is both memorable and financially feasible.

Are All Cake Smash Sessions Photo Sessions too?

The essence of a cake smash session is deeply rooted in celebrating a milestone, often the first birthday, with the added fun of letting the child playfully “smash” a cake.

Cake smashes are conventionally accompanied by a photo shoot to capture the joyous and often messy moments, not all cake smash sessions are designed with photography in mind. Some families prefer to engage in the activity as a private celebration, relishing the experience without the presence of a professional photographer.

In most babies, in these instances, the focus shifts from creating photo-ready setups to smash cakes to simply enjoying the occasion’s spontaneity and delight. Also, if your child isn’t wildly excited by cake, it could be less of a smash and more of a posed cake sit. However, it’s common for even the most casual of cake smashes to be documented in some form, whether through snapshots taken by family members or videos that candidly capture the child’s reactions.


Healthy & Cheap Frosting Ideas

Creating a delicious and healthy frosting for your little one’s cake smash doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Someone choose red icing or pink because it attracts the baby and can be pretty hilarious to see these bright colors on your little one’s face.

Here are some budget-friendly and wholesome ideas to top off the cake in style:

  • Greek Yogurt Frosting: Mix Greek yogurt with a bit of honey or maple syrup for a naturally sweet and creamy frosting. You can add vanilla extract or lemon zest for extra flavor. It’s perfect for parents looking for a high-protein, lower-sugar option.
  • Avocado Chocolate Frosting: Blend ripe avocado with cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and your choice of sweeteners such as agave syrup or honey. This frosting is not only rich, creamy, and chocolatey but also packed with healthy fats.
  • Coconut Cream Frosting: Chill a can of full-fat coconut milk overnight, then scoop out the solidified cream and whip it with powdered sugar or maple syrup. This makes a light, dairy-free frosting that’s ideal for kids with lactose intolerance.
  • Sweet Potato Chocolate Frosting: Puree-cooked sweet potato with cocoa powder, a touch of your preferred sweetener, and a bit of almond milk for a silky, nutritious frosting. It’s a sneaky way to incorporate vegetables into a dessert.
  • Cashew Vanilla Frosting: Soak cashews overnight, then blend them until smooth with a splash of lemon juice, vanilla extract, and agave syrup. This frosting is wonderfully creamy and perfect for those looking for a dairy-free option.

What is the meaning of cake smashing?

Cake smashing is a celebratory act in which a baby gets to smash cakes. Often, it marks a child’s first birthday. This tradition involves the birthday child being given a small, personal cake to explore, taste, and, as the name suggests, smash in any manner they see fit. If this is done at a party, parents have other cakes set aside for guests.

Originating as a symbolic gesture of the child’s encounter with independence and new experiences, cake smashing has evolved into a popular event, capturing the joy and messiness of childhood. And so the trend started. The essence of cake smashing transcends mere play; it’s a representation of milestone celebration, personal growth, and the simple pleasure of experiencing something novel and delightful.

This custom not only makes for adorable photos but also creates memorable, joy-filled moments for families to cherish.

What is the point of a smash cake?

If you don’t eat it, why celebrate with a cake? The primary point of a smash cake is to celebrate a significant milestone in babies’ life, typically their first birthday, in a fun and memorable way. It serves as a rite of passage where the child is encouraged to engage with their cake in any manner they please, from delicately tasting to enthusiastically demolishing it.

This celebration is not just about the act of smashing the cupcakes; it symbolizes the child’s growing independence and curiosity about the world. Beyond its symbolic value, the Baby to Smash the Cake also offers a unique opportunity for parents to capture candid photographs that highlight their child’s personality, expressions, and inevitable messes, creating cherished memories for years to come.

What’s an Affordable Way to Save on a Cake Smash Session?

One affordable strategy to save on a cake smash session is to set a color scheme and DIY the photography and decorations. Rather than hiring a pro photographer, parents can utilize their smartphones or a decent-quality camera to capture the moment.

Many modern devices come with advanced photography settings that, when used correctly, produce beautiful, high-quality photos. For decorations, consider crafting homemade props or repurposing items around the house to create a celebratory backdrop.

Websites like Pinterest offer an abundance of creative DIY decoration ideas that are both cost-effective and personalizable. The biggest tip is to keep in mind that you might have to sit quite a while to capture the moment. If you miss it, try Adobe Photo Shop or Canva to try to recreate the moment for your little one. This approach not only significantly reduces costs but also adds a unique, intimate touch to the celebration, making the memories even more special.

What time of day is best for a cake smash?

The ideal time of day for a cake smash is typically in the morning or early afternoon. Chances are your baby isn’t used to the added sugar, so they will likely be wired after they’ve eaten even the smallest bite. So, the earlier, the better.

This timing coincides with when children are often at their best—well-rested, fed, and in a playful mood. Morning light, especially if the session is outdoors, provides soft, natural lighting that can enhance the quality of photos.

Additionally, scheduling the cake smash after a meal ensures the child isn’t too hungry or too full, making them more comfortable and engaged with the cake. It’s also practical to consider the child’s nap schedule to avoid conflicts that could lead to a cranky mood. Ultimately, knowing your child’s routine and when they eat and are happiest will guide you to the best time to smash cake.

What are the best settings for cake smash?

To capture the charm and excitement of a cake smash, selecting the right settings is crucial. Whether you’re using a smartphone or a digital camera, aim for natural light to illuminate your photos beautifully. If indoors, choose a room with ample windows.

Outdoors, a shaded area can provide even lighting without harsh shadows. Opt for a simple background to keep the focus on the child and the cake. A plain wall or a simple fabric backdrop works well. When setting up your camera or phone, consider using a portrait mode to blur the background slightly, drawing attention to your little one’s expressions.

A high shutter speed is essential to freeze those quick, unexpected movements. Lastly, ensure the area is easy to clean-up after the smash.

What’s the difference between a smash cake and a regular cake?

The primary difference between a smash cake and a regular cake lies in their purposes and designs. A smash cake is specifically intended for a child’s first birthday celebration, designed for the child to explore, taste, and playfully smash. It is typically smaller, often sized just right for little hands to break through the icing. They know your little one will be demolishing it, so it is made with simpler, baby-friendly ingredients.

Atop cake stands, by contrast, regular cakes are designed for general consumption by guests at a celebration. A traditional cake usually has more complex flavors, larger sizes, and intricate decorations that aren’t necessarily suitable for a playful smash session.

Is there a right or wrong way to do a cake smash?

Essentially, there is no right or wrong way to do a cake smash. This celebration is all about letting the child have fun and explore in their unique way. Whether they decide to delicately poke at the chocolate cake, or go all-in with a high-energy smash, each approach captures the essence of discovery that defines this special milestone. The key is to create a safe, engaging, and happy environment that reflects little ones’ personality and allows their natural reactions to shine through.

Is a Smake Smash the Best Birthday Party Idea for Your Baby?

Deciding if a smash cake is the best birthday party idea for your baby hinges on personal preferences and the unique character of your child. For families seeking a playful, memorable way to mark a 1st birthday for a baby, a cake smash can be a delightful choice.

It allows babies to express themselves in a fun, sensory experience, providing priceless photo opportunities that capture the essence of childhood wonder. However, it’s essential to consider your baby’s disposition, any dietary restrictions (esp related to any sugar or egg allergy), and your comfort with the potential mess.

Allow to assist you in managing the unforeseen time and financial obligations that accompany your journey into parenthood. Enroll in the Preggy Finance course today by signing up here.


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