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Flat Lay 101 Part 1: How To Create Charming Flat Lay photos for Whimsical parties

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Have you ever heard of a flat lay photo? We’re pretty sure you’ve seen them littered all over your Instagram and possibly even in some professional marketing ads. But what exactly is a flat lay photo and why should you take one? 

The popularity of Instagram has changed the way we take and share photos. When you snap a pic for your Instagram, the goal is normally to create an image that resonates with your viewers while sharing something you enjoy. With flat lay photos, we are doing just that. A flat lay is a picture taken from a bird’s eye view with an aesthetically pleasing arrangement of items beneath. There is normally one central product that serves as the main focal point of the photo, while several other products fill in the details to tell a complete story.

Flat lays are great tools when it comes to planning and organizing parties. Not only can they serve as your general inspiration board for the party, but they showcase the details of your party to inspire others looking to use a similar theme for their own celebration. 

Let’s take a look at how to design charming flat lay photos for whimsical parties.

A Fantastical and Magical Celebration

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Kelsey is a twin mom to two sweet girls who are big fans of the Disney movie Encanto. When it came time to plan their fourth birthday party, of course the girls asked for it to be Encanto themed but more specifically, themed after their favorite character, Isabella. 

One of the great things about flat lays is that they can become the perfect keepsake to always remember the intricate details that go into putting together a special party. While there is no main focal item for this flat lay exactly, the goal of this photo is to take a snapshot of the fun theme that Kelsey put together to make her daughters’ party as perfect as it could be. Flat lay photos of each kid’s birthday party would make an amazing memory album to look back on as your kids grow up. 

Kelsey began staging her flat lay by draping her themed banner across the top of her background and adding the details below it to summarize the party. Party invitations are always a great detail to include in a keepsake flat lay photo. Kelsey added hers directly beneath the banner and then filled in the rest of her backdrop with other party details. She included her custom Birthday Babe sign, a mini cactus pinata, a chewing gum pink plate customized with a clear acrylic charger and a round cactus napkin peeking out from beneath it, and cactus stir sticks, all of which allude to Isabella as the party’s inspiration. Some party favors and themed accessories that her girls wore, like a hair bow and pink sunglasses, completed the story Kelsey was trying to convey. Kelsey finalized her flat lay with a sprinkle of confetti and gold butterflies to add a little more fun to the background.

Two Little Chicks

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Sometimes, flat lays are used to convey a particular theme. In this case, NJ mom Calynn was planning a joint birthday party for her two girls, whose sixth and ninth birthdays were just a week apart. Their backyard garden is a huge part of their home and Calynn’s pride and joy (after her two girls, of course). Not only is their garden filled with flowers and homegrown vegetables, but during the pandemic, they converted their girls’ swing set into a chicken coop in order to raise pet chickens. Follow along her magical backyard journey here. The girls love the chickens so much that they asked for a chicken themed birthday party. 

A chicken themed party is fairly unique in terms of popular birthday party themes for children. However, who could refuse when both kids ask for something because they love their chickens so much? When planning the party, Calynn wanted to stray away from the usual farm colors that people normally associate with chickens and go for a color scheme that she knew her girls would love. 

In her flat lay, Calynn began by placing the pink and white checkered plate and the egg yolk plate that she used in her tablescape in the center of the photo. To build her chicken theme, Calynn added two wooden chicken cutouts with her daughters’ names on top of the plates and added two adorable pink party chicken figurines to the top left and bottom right of her background to add interest to the empty spaces of her background. With the final touches of an egg holder with fresh eggs, number sparkler candlespastel swirly candles, a yellow striped dinner napkin, and confetti that matched her party colors mixed with tiny egg-shaped candies, Calynn’s flat lay was complete.

Unicorn Birthday Magic

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One of the many uses of flat lay photos is to create custom party invitations. Ashley is a mom of three young children - two boys and one girl. Like many little girls her age, Ashley’s daughter LOVES unicorns. So for her fifth birthday, Ashley created an entire magical unicorn themed party just for her.  

We love how fun and colorful this flat lay is. Ashley went with a rainbow color scheme to go with the unicorn theme. Of the many things you can use to build your flat lay is, plates, napkins, garlands, candles, drink stirrers and straws, and confetti are some of the most popular items to include when creating a party flat lay. If your intention is to use the flat lay as your party invitation, including as many of these items as you can without creating a cluttered shot creates a beautiful and fun image to send out to your guests. 

The flat lay Ashley created for her daughter’s birthday would be the perfect party invitation. A gold metallic paper plate with Magical Day star plate on top of it creates the perfect focal point at the center of her photo. Around the plates, Ashley draped a Whimsy Rainbow Colored Glitter garland and strategically placed signs such as her Birthday Babe sign and two wooden tags reading “magic” and “5” indicating what the invitation is for (a birthday) and how old the celebrant will be (5) which is exactly the kind of information you need when designing an invite. Ashley added the finishing touches to her design with a unicorn napkin and candle, some custom-designed party cookies, a rainbow cup with gold star straw, and of course, matching confetti to tie all of the colors in the photo together. Ashley even added a few mini party disco balls to her picture for added sparkle to entice guests to join in the fun.

Dinocorn Birthday Bash

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Ashley designed this final whimsical flat lay as well. Although she did a separate flat lay for just her daughter, the actual party they were throwing was a joint party for both her daughter and her youngest son. As her son loves dinosaurs, she blended the themes into one big “dinocorn” party - GENIUS!

A flat lay such as this would make a great thank you card design. With all of the details of the party thrown into one frame, it serves as a great reminder of all the fun guests had when you write out and send thank you cards. Everything about this dinocorn birthday bash is summed up within this one frame. It starts with the party invitation in the center atop a gold striped cocktail napkin with the various plates that they used throughout the party surrounding it. Her daughter’s unicorn theme was represented on a rose pink paper plate with a toy unicorn, a sparkler five candle, and a pastel rainbow cookie. Ashley’s son’s dinosaur half was shown on a sky blue paper plate with matching decor in a dinosaur theme. 

The rest of the photo nicely blends the two themes together, starting with the felt ball garland that incorporated both the unicorn and dinosaur-themed colors and the palm leaf paper plate with custom cookies in the shape of a five and a three each decorated to match each child’s separate interest. Ashley completed her flat lay photo with a healthy sprinkling of confetti to fill up all the rest of the blank space on her backdrop.

Interested in Designing Your Own Flat lay?

Want to create your own flat lay and need some coaching? Fellow party lover, Kelsey Klos, a wonderful party designer and co-founder of House of Feteoffers a course that teaches you everything you need to know to design the perfect flat lay. She offers two separate courses: a Tips and Tricks group course of 4 students each or a One on One Flat lay course where you have Kelsey’s complete and undivided attention. 

Anytime you sign up for one of her courses, you’ll have the opportunity to bounce ideas back and forth with Kelsey to pick your photo subject. Then, she’ll send you a list of all the things you’ll need to build your perfect flat lay. During the course, you’ll learn everything you need to know in order to build a flat lay that’s beautiful and inspiring, including all of the reasoning behind why Kelsey places things in certain areas within a frame and why. By the end of the class, you’ll have built an entire flat lay that you can be proud of. Send her a picture of your final flat lay, and Kelsey will even edit it for you and send it back to you in professionally edited condition that you’ll be more than ready to share.

If learning how to design a flat lay has been sitting on the back burner of your mind, here’s your chance to reach out and learn! Check out which spots are still open by clicking here and signing up for Kelsey’s course in flat lay design.

Product Styling

Here are samples of work from the collaborative minds of Kelsey and Rebecca, owner of Paperie Off Park, an Etsy shop selling party invitations and paper goods. She specializes in hand-drawn & hand-painted watercolor designs. Rebecca loves custom requests and bespoke designs are her favorite. She also loves collaborating with party planners and fellow small shops to create magical events and styled shoots. Visit her stunning Etsy shop here.

Dreamy as ever, this Butterfly Kisses theme contains all the pretty shades of pink and purple with pops of metallic gold. We love Rebecca’s attention to detail, including the rose flower and beautifully illustrated cookies, giving the flat lay an additional layer with the 3-dimensional items. From the shop, she paired the Lilac Purple Dinner Plates with the Wild Daisy Plate on top. The Butterfly Confetti Pack with its gorgeous hues of purple, pink, peach and white makes the flat lay extra magical. Lastly, the mixed set of Multicolored Dipped Glitter Candles adds that subtle touch of sparkle to complete the snapshot. Similar items that you may include in your own party would be these Butterfly Drink Stirrers and Daisy Felt Garland.

Looking to throw that ultimate summer pool party? Just looking at that showcased invite brings on all the summer feels! This epic confetti wave, y’all!!! To style this image, she used the Poolside Confetti Mix or you can also use the Snow Cone Confetti Mix. In addition to completing flat lay details, the shiny Umbrella Party Picks make the cutest party props whether they are on a snack tray, on top of your favorite beverage or desserts like cupcakes. Sunglassesgoggles, and swim masks make unforgettable keepsake party favors. And of course, no flat lay or party is complete without Mini Disco Balls. Grab a pack and get ready to party in style!

1 comment

  • Thank you so much for this information! This is something I’m going to include in my marketing branding process. Also, I will use it as a mood board for potential clients.

    Kimberly Smith

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