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Tips and tricks for an Instagram-perfect birthday party

Want to have a birthday party for your child that delights your child and also guarantees you’ll have amazing photos to share on Instagram? We asked Chicago experts for their tips and tricks for creating Instagram-perfect birthday party pics that both get lots of likes and are images that you’ll love for years to come. 

Double down on the dessert table

Don’t decorate every inch of your space. “Your whole party does not need to be decked out to get a fantastic photo,” says Lindsey Mensch of Lili Marie Parties. “For great images, it is better to go all out in one area, then a few decorations here and a few decorations there.”

She suggests making the dessert table the focal point for the party. She says she sketches out placement of items on the table ahead of time and is always careful to not leave much space between items since doing so can make it look sparse. Also important: don’t forget the background. “A photo of a beautiful dessert table with a messy/busy backdrop is not going to be appealing,” Mensch says.

If a lavish cake or other over-the-top desserts aren’t in the cards, go with cute cupcake flags stuck in store-bought cupcakes. Chicago mom Johanna Grange, social media influencer and founder of Oak Street Social who has 36,000 Instagram followers, says not only are they quick and easy, they’re also “totally Instagram worthy.” She suggests looking at Etsy.com for flags and other cupcake toppers that are both adorable and affordable. Order them a few weeks in advance of the party to make sure you have them in time.

Light more than just candles

“Instagram is all about lighting,” Grange says. She suggests using a ring light on a stand to really make photos pop. And try to have as much natural light as possible. 

Also, consider lighting when setting up your party. For example, Mensch recommends placing the dessert table across from a window, not under it. “If you have a window in the background, everyone standing in front of the table will come out backlit and shadowy,” she says.

Pass on posing

Some of the best photos of your kids are when they are not trying to pose and you capture them just being themselves, says Helen Berkun, fashion photographer, stylist and Chicago mom with more than 15,000 Instagram followers. Grange agrees, noting that with her kids, “the unplugged moments are the best moments.”

“Try capturing the moment documentary-style and get images of kids just doing what they want and being in the moment,” she advises. Not only do those often make great shots for Instagram, they’re likely to the be the ones dearest to your heart.

Capitalize on color contrast

Bright colors make your Instagram pop. Berkun’s favorite shade is red, but she says her son loves black and white and that works well, too. “It’s all about contrast,” says BerkunOften the party theme your child selects will dictate the color scheme, but if not, Grange says that looking at Pinterest can be a great source of inspiration and will give you a good idea of what photographs well. She suggests incorporating color by purchasing glass containers at TJ Maxx and filling them with giant gumballs or other candy that matches the color scheme.  

Call in help

Sometimes throwing a birthday bash feels a lot like herding cats, which makes getting the perfect photos really challenging. Don’t be afraid to call in reinforcements.

“Hiring a party planner/event decorator like us to handle setting up decorations can greatly increase your chances of getting a great photo,” says Mensch. “We set up, take photos, readjust, take more photos, readjust again and keep repeating until our setup results in the perfect photo. The average host/hostess is not going to have the time, patience or desire to hand place sprinkles so that a cupcake close-up looks perfect. We, however, love those small details!” she explains.

If a party planner isn’t in the budget, don’t be afraid to ask a friend or parent of a party guest to act as photographer, even if it’s just to grab a few shots.

The early bird gets the Instagram image

If at all possible, take photos before guests arrive. Mensch advises leaving 30 minutes before guests arrive to take a few photos of your party décor. In the calm before the storm, you can capture the great details. And you’ll be ready to get pics with guests when they arrive, so you get the best of both worlds. 

Mensch explains, “People-free photos of decorations can be much more eye catching, but obviously photos of your guests are going to be ones you will cherish.” 

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