cake smash theme ideas - lion king, a one year old looks up innocently while shoving cake in his mouth

Cake Smash Theme Ideas

The cake smash photoshoot has started to become the standard for one year pictures and I, for one, am a fan. I love the way it allows your little one's spirit to be free, gives you an opportunity to witness their personality, and creates a fun and carefree environment to document it all.

Details are kind of my thing, so as a Minnesota photographer, I love coming up with cake smash theme ideas for my clients to really set the scene. I thought, I might as well share a list of my favorite cake smash theme ideas to inspire anyone looking to plan their shoot—whether your shoot is with me or not!

a one year old smiles sweetly while shoveling cake in his mouth and holding a spoon
a young boy looks up mischievous as he sits covered in frosting next to a cake with a bite taken out of it
a one year old boy smiles sweetly while holding a spoon
a young boy kneels excitedly next to a smash cake during a session with a minnesota photographer
a young boy crawls in front of a backdrop with balloons and the letters one spelled out in lights
a young boy makes a mischievous face from behind a cake during a session with a minnesota photographer
a young boy sits patiently in front of a backdrop with yellow and tan balloons
a young boy touches a smash cake in front of a backdrop with yellow and tan balloons and lights
a one year old sits patiently in a tiny bathtub during a session with a minnesota photographer

Classic Balloon Cake Smash Theme

The default backdrop/theme for my standard mini cake smash sessions is a simple backdrop with colored balloon garland and string lights. Even just a color theme can majorly impact the general feel of the final photos!

Any of the more detailed, themed photos you see here are included in my exclusive cake smash packages! They allow for a more personalized experience and photos that really show your kiddo's unique personality, traits, and goofy facial expressions.

minnesota photographer - one year old with a toy lion held close to his face as he sits on orange seamless paper
cake smash theme ideas - garden, a one year old looks up sweetly surrounded my whimsical decor
a one year old sits amidst garden decorations and a cake for a session with a minnesota photographer
a young girl smiles from behind a garden decorated cake


A whimsical garden covered in butterflies, a lush haven of wildflowers, blooms at their boldest and vines trailing around. Whatever garden vibe is your favorite, it will make a beautiful backdrop for your blooming baby. There are so many ways to take this and I honestly don't think it's possible to mess it up.

cake smash theme ideas - football, a one year old boy smiles from behind a slightly smashed cake surrounded by football
a one year old looks up in surprise while sitting in a tiny bathtub with football decorations behind him


Immediate touch down. Tackle your little's cake smash theme with the sport that they love the most (or the sport that they were born to love the most)! Maybe it's an ode to your team or just a love for the game—either way, your kiddo will be the most precious one on the field.

a little boy covered in cake stands up while smashing a cake
a one year old smiles during his lion king cake smash theme photo shoot covered in cake
a little boy looks up at his minnesota photographer during a cake smash one year old photo shoot


One is right around the age where you start to see the opinions come out. Some kiddos (and honestly, adults too) just get attached to a certain movie. For whatever reason it is their favorite. Celebrating what your child enjoys is a BIG part of celebrating them! Let's set them up next to Timon and Pumbaa, the cast of Cars, the latest Princess, or whichever film calls to your little.

Or opt for movies in general—popcorn, film reels, the classic red and white stripe. Maybe even roll out the red carpet?

cake smash theme ideas - golf, a young girl makes a face while covered in frosting
a young girl looks up while surrounded by pink golf themed decorations


We set up these cute cartoon golf cart and accessories along with some greenery to truly transport us to the greens. Sports can be so special and meaningful and using them as a theme will always be cute and easily on par. We'll just have to watch that back swing when they start going at the cake!

a young girl curiously reaches out toward a cake decorated with a unicorn
cake smash theme ideas - unicorn theme a young girl laughs while sitting next to a little cake for one year old photos


Special, unique, cheerful, and color galore. Unicorns are cute and whimsical and play a fun supporting role while your little one steals the show. If you want a cake smash full of magic and whimsy, this could be the way to go!

a one year old girl smiles covered in cake at a shoot with a bao cake smash theme idea

Sentimental/Inside Jokes

I had a little girl whose parents called her their "little bao". We decorated the studio with cartoon bao dumplings and even had a cute little cake topper (see her full cake smash gallery here!). Maybe you have a sweet nickname for your little one like this? Or maybe a favorite family activity? Those are some great places to get ideas for creative cake smash themes.

a boy smiles brightly while gazing at a cake for his one year cake smash
a boy laughs from behind a smashed cake during a session with a minnesota photographer
a boy shyly holds a spoon to his mouth from behind a smash cake


Aesthetic makes a difference. Everyone has different taste. Sometimes the animated, colorful themes are a perfect fit, and sometimes keeping it simple brings us the photos that we love the most. In a cake smash photoshoot, your child is always going to shine—it is literally a photoshoot just for them. Keeping your theme on the minimalist side dulls that background noise and gives us the opportunity to get even more creative when capturing your child in all of their glory.

a one year old sits with a cake in front of a backdrop with honey and bumble bees
a one year old sits in a tiny bathtub surrounded by bumble bee decorations and balloons
a one year old shoves cake in her mouth at her bee cake smash theme shoot

Bumble Bee

Your little bumble bee. Sweet, tiny, pure, and a vital part of the world's ecosystem. Yellows and blacks and stripes. Little bee flight patterns. Dripping honey. Tiny flowers. This theme will have your little one on their best bee-havior (or they will be all stingers, but either way you will end up with some wildly cute snaps to hold close to your heart).

cake smash theme ideas - butterflies, a one year old wearing a crown leans over to take a bite from the cake
a young girl smiles brightly behind a cake and glittering butterflies


The leaves, the animals, the excitement. Your little monkey will fit right in as they do their worst on the unsuspecting cake set in front of them. There are so many ways to decorate for a jungle cake smash theme! Welcome to the jungle.


Who doesn't love kids and dinos? They are on all those onesies for a reason.

Lush greens, cute cartoon dinosaurs (or more realistic fossil depictions), and earthy neutrals will be a perfect pair for your rawr-ing one year old.

cake smash theme idea - outer space, a one year old smiles sweetly and lifts a cake covered spoon to his mouth
cake smash theme ideas - outer space, a young boy holds up a hand covered in frosting

Outer Space

The wide unknown-ness of space is a little like the wide unknown-ness of our own futures. Anything could be out there. While for us that may mean more cute smiles next to balloons shaped like Saturn and string lights that look like stars, it is a meaningful visual that pairs perfectly with your one year old's shining eyes.

Under the Sea

Crystal blues, colorful fish, and a cute little outfit? A marine dream. An under the sea cake smash theme would make for such a sweet, colorful set of photos to look back on and treasure forever (did someone say hidden treasure?? another cool visual idea!!).

Hot Air Balloon

Just think about your kid having the time of their life smashing into a little cake... in the clouds. Surrounded by hot air balloon decorations in the sky. It's sweet, it's unique, it tells the story of the wide open future ahead of them.

TV Shows

Let's open up an entire category of themes! How cute would your little one be surrounded by the views of classics like Sesame Street or a new hit like Bluey! If they have a favorite, it could be a great way to remember and treasure this time.

a young girl puts a spoon to her mouth as she sits next to a cake at a shoot with a sweets cake smash theme ideas
a baby girl sits in a tiny bathtub behind letters in lights spelling out one
a girl smiles big at a shoot with a sweets cake smash theme ideas while sitting next to a cake and pastel balloons


Sugar, spice, and everything nice? Or maybe its about time for a pizza party??? Food is the backbone of any culture, and it also looks really really cute next to a kid. Maybe your little has a favorite or you are just reaaaalllllyyyyyy into tacos, that special treat would be a fun idea for a cake smash theme!


If you have a little adventurer on your hands, a travel cake smash theme could be the idea for you! Imagine a little suitcase, some airplane or map decorations—a little globe?? Cuteness overload.

Or maybe a step further with the theme of a specific region or culture! Little Italy, Bollywood, London, Tokyo, The Rocky Mountains, the desert, Santorini, any iconic place could be a cute and creative way to set the scene for your cake smash shoot.

a one year old wearing a tutu sitting in front of greenery smiles from behind a cake

Minnesota Photographer - Nimz Photography

Your memories are just WAITING to be captured. Book a cake smash session for your little one now and stay up to date with the latest at Nimz Photography on our Instagram! See you there!

Cake Smash Theme Ideas