These days, whether we employ professional photographers or some great photo booth apps installed on our own laptops or tablets, photo booths are one of the best parts of parties of all kinds. The amazing pictures they take of our costumed kids on Halloween, Devoted to our easily tipsy (and uninhibited) holiday guests or the great-grandparents with silly hats and mustaches at a wedding, the preparation time is absolutely worth it.

Plus, it’s pretty much an expected activity these days; As our editor Liz told me, a real children’s party is complete without a photo box. The good news is, we have some tips for you so that you can enjoy the spontaneity and excitement of photo booths without spending a lot of money.

Similar: Tips for setting up your own photo box at home

1) Pocketbooth photo booth app

For years we have loved the old sense of time of this app, which is like a digital version of the popular photo strips from the 1950s or the mall from the 1980s. (Not that either of us are old enough to know about it.)

The Pocketbooth app is super easy to use too. Just take four photos in a row from your smart device, save them and then send them to email or share them directly on social media. You have about two seconds between camera clicks; just enough time for kids to roll out all of their goofy, dizzy faces and creepy poses. (Available on iTunes for $ 0.99 and Google Play for $ 1.99.)

2) Instagram layout

This app remains one of my favorites and while it is primarily known as a cool tool for creating photo collages to share on Instagram, you might not know that it has a fun photo box option as well. Press it and be ready to take four quick selfies in a row. That way, you have a photo booth square that you can edit and share. (Free download from iTunes and Google Play.)

Related: 8 Tips For Taking A Selfie With Kids. Because you want to be in the picture too, right?

3) Simple booth photo booth app

Although there are more expensive pro versions of this app that can be used for large parties and events (you can see examples from our pre Father’s Day brunch event in NYC that we hosted earlier this year), the free version is Simple Booth for iPhone just as cool and fun. And it’s totally easy to use too; Just select how many photos you want, press the button to start the countdown, and snap away. You can also change the photo layout, mix the pictures, or add an effect or filter before sharing your crazy creations on social media. You can even try out the AirPrint features, which spit out two strips of strips side by side on a 4 × 6-inch sheet. (Free download from iTunes.)

4) Party Photo Booth app

This Android app makes it even easier (if that’s possible!) To go crazy about photo booths at all of your upcoming Christmas parties by letting you set up your template in advance. This will put your Android phone or tablet into a self-service mode. I just suggest adding a tripod to keep everything really stable and you’re golden. (Available on Google Play for $ 3.40.)

An important note about photo booth apps: As cool as these photo booth apps are, they can also be a bit difficult for the under 6s to maneuver themselves. When it comes to selfies, there’s hand positioning, the quickness of the shutter (it’s over in seconds), and fitting it all into the frame. Basically, your typical selfie / “we-you” has problems and kids need to figure it out. If your younger children are taking photos alone, know that you may get blurry footage. But that’s half the fun of a photo box, isn’t it? Plus, you can always take more with you, which is one of the great joys of digital photography.

4 of our favorite photo booth apps

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