In the age of social media, if you go to a party and don’t take a selfie — did it really happen?
This New Year’s Eve, take your Snapchat/Instagram/Facebook game up a notch with the addition of a fun, festive DIY photo backdrop and capture the last, fleeting moments of 2018 as you wait for the ball to drop with family and friends.
Trust us, it’s a thing.
Joy Cho, founder of the Los Angeles-based design and lifestyle blog Oh Joy!, said she sees the popularity of photo backdrops at parties and events as an evolution of trendy photo booths combined with increasingly powerful phone cameras and the rising influence of all things Instagrammable.
“People realized all they needed was a small section of their home or apartment and they have an automatic photo booth,” Cho said. “Then you take the pictures on your phones.”
Easy for Cho to say, but what about the rest of us with crafting abilities that lean more toward macaroni necklaces and Pinterest strings of Projects We Have No Intention of Ever Making?
“It doesn’t have to be super complicated,” Cho said. “You can make it as detailed or as simple as you want. … It’s based on your budget and your comfort level with crafting.”
Choose the space
“It just has to be an area that is big enough to hold a few people in a photo,” Cho said.
Don’t sweat the lighting
Create a backdrop in a room that already has good lighting. “If you can stand in the room and it looks good to your eye, the camera will probably pick up the same look,” Cho said. “I prefer that over using the flash on your phone because people tend to look caught off guard when you use flash photography.”
Cho favors disco balls. “You can never go wrong with a disco ball,” Cho said, “especially on New Year’s Eve. People can use them as props for posing. … A lot of times people feel weird taking a photo, so props are a little bit of an icebreaker.” Not a fan of disco? Cho also favors paper honeycomb balls. “You can get them at any party store. They come in a ton of colors … and sizes from tiny, tiny to super large. Get whatever size makes sense for your space.”
Don’t make yourself crazy
“I think there is so much pressure for everything to look perfect. … If you want to create a beautiful backdrop for a party and can spare 15, 20 or 30 minutes, depending on how complicated you want it to be, then do it … . If the thought of creating it doesn’t make you happy, it’s not going to take away from your party. Your guests are still going to have a good time. It’s kind of the icing on the cake.”
Two rocking New Year’s Eve ideas
Two of Los Angeles’ brightest stars on the design blogging scene, Joy Cho of Oh Joy! and Kelly Mindell, founder of Studio DIY, shared ideas with The Times for creating sparkling photo backdrops to help us document the evening in style.
Mindell decorated a wall with holographic balloons — those big, puffy, foil balloons — accessorized with disco balls, a portrait chair and glittery, silver fringe. Using large foil balloons, expect to budget between $100 and $150. A smaller space and latex balloons would cut the cost. Here’s how she did it:
Balloons, already inflated
Fishing line (available at hardware stores)
Removable hooks (such as Command hooks)
Glue dots or tape
Accessories like disco balls, fringed silver garland
1. String holographic balloons on several 10- to 12-foot strands of fishing line.
2. Place removable hooks at varying heights, spaced out across the wall you plan to use as your backdrop.
3. Hang the balloons by wrapping the fishing line around the hooks, snaking the line up and down to catch the various hooks. It doesn’t need to be in any sort of pattern; this process is very forgiving.
4. Use glue dots or tape to add in extra balloons by taping them to the balloons already strung on the wall to fill in gaps.
Pro tip: Grab a smartphone and check out your handiwork, adjusting as needed.
Making An Entrance
Cho and her team at Oh Joy! created a silver-and-gold tinsel backdrop styled by Julia Wester and Jess Hong that doubles as a photo backdrop and festive entryway on a budget of around $75. Price varies depending on the amount of materials.
Ready-made papier-mâché stars from craft store
Small disco balls
1. Cover your work area with newspapers or drop cloth: Spray the stars with gold paint, then sprinkle with glitter while still wet. Let dry 20 minutes.
2. Using a piece of thin wire, attach stars and disco balls to the tinsel garlands.
3. Hang alternating strands of gold and silver tinsel to create a curtain backdrop (you can hang them from a curtain rod or over a doorway or tape them to a wall).
Pro tip: You can make the backdrop as tall or wide as you want. Just fill in the spaces with garlands for a full, glamorous look.
Bonnie McCarthy contributes to the Los Angeles Times as a home and lifestyle design writer. She enjoys scouting for directional trends and reporting on what’s new and next. Follow her on Twitter @ThsAmericanHome