This is it. The time has come where you officially do not have to ask your older brother to buy you a 12 pack of Natty Light from the corner gas station while you awkwardly wait in the car- you can do it yourself! While a 21st birthday means being able to enjoy an alcoholic beverage or two, or three, here and there, it also means so much more. You’re becoming a real adult now, and you are just a few short years away from buying life insurance and yelling at kids to get off your lawn. While adult life can be tough, it is essential that you enjoy being young while you still can and throw the most awesome 21st birthday known to man. It doesn’t matter if you live in a college town, sprawling metropolis, or rural area. We’ve got ideas for everyone.
21st Birthday Party Ideas
When it comes to the big 2-1, there are many roads you can take when it comes to party night. Literally, a sign that points to Drunkville and one to calmer waters. Some opt for the classic house party, others may choose to spend their whole night at one specific bar, while the brave go for the all out bar crawl. Whatever path you decide to stumble down, there are steps to take to make your birthday legendary.
A cool, and collected night at home with some of your closest friends can be a great time. Plus, if you do end up imbibing a little too much you know you won’t be judged. Gather everyone around for some fun party games, or simply listen to music and talk about the good old days (okay, last weekend) when you were young and so naive. No matter what, a good 21st birthday is inevitable when you’re spending it with friends who won’t mind that you’re obnoxiously dancing to Lady Gaga’s Poker Face on the kitchen table.
Throw up some funny drink related decorations such as awesome swimming pool lights, bake up some booze inspired cupcakes, get the party ice luge and the revolving liquor dispenser ready, and have jello shots on hand. These small touches are a great way to liven up your house with your new found libation liberation.
Stock up on drinks and savor that first time you step into the liquor store to buy the goods because you’re about to be overwhelmed with options. My first time in a liquor store I was astounded that cupcake flavored vodka was even a thing. Research some party punch or cocktail recipes, this will give you a better idea about what exactly it is you want. Don’t be afraid to ask the store clerk if you have a question, that’s what they are there for!
Neighborhood Dive Bar
Of course, the most exciting and anticipated course of action is going out to the promise land, meaning the bar down the street. If you’re heading out to the bars for the first time, be sure to be properly prepared, for it is a trying experience. Although you should know to enjoy responsibly (c’mon, you’re an adult now) ready a hangover kit for the morning after. Everything from Gatorade and aspirin to sunglasses for the bright crack of noon sun is necessary to ease that surging headache. Walking into that neighborhood bar for the first time is exhilarating. For months it has been so close and you’ve tried your best to look inside every time you’ve walked by, dreaming of the day you’ll be a “regular”. Now you may have heard some crazy stories about your local dive bars, and let me tell you….they are totally true. As you enter with your new 21-year-old glow there will be the 40-year-old regular looking to buy everyone shots, only to find that he doesn’t have enough dough.
There will also be the constant high-fivers, the guy who wants to talk about his regrets in life (tears may be included), and the crazy, overly happy guy who kind of scares you at first but that you learn to like because he did, in fact, bring enough money for those shots. Pro tip: if you’re on a budget at the dive bar, bring a backpack full of Pabst and fill your glass under the table. Or if you prefer liquor a cool, monogrammed flask works just as well.
All-Out Bar Crawl
And then there is the over the top bar crawl. Ideally, your town or city has a block full of clubs and bars that allow you to walk from each destination with ease. If not be sure to have your designated driver on stand-by! The legendary bar crawl really does have it all. While there are those crazy regulars mentioned above, each bar has its own particular atmosphere. Some may be more laid back while others are more upbeat. People may choose to start somewhere calm and then work there way up to the crazier spots, ask your older pals what clubs they prefer.
Another benefit of going from bar to bar is tasting each one’s different drinks. Most bars tend to have their own specialty cocktails or shots, while you’ll taste some and think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, others will make you cringe. Dipping your toe into each bar will allow you to figure you what spots you prefer and want to return to.
In my college town, it was easy to figure out what crowds seemed to fit my personality best and those are the ones I would always frequent and even made life-long friends at. If you hit up a cigar bar you could wow the staff and customers with a unique whiskey cigar glass. Of course, if you’re doing a bar crawl for your 21st birthday not all places are going to be cool with you bringing a flask. You can always try a more subtle sunscreen bottle flask or if it’s the middle a rounded hip flask is easy enough to hide in the palm of your hand.
That way you don’t have to pay outrageous cocktail prices, but be sure to tip your bartender and server.
21st Birthday Gift Ideas
If you happen to be on the other end of the festivities, you will have to figure out an awesome gift for your pal. Something personal is always a crowd-pleaser, and will have Brian sitting next to you jealous of how damn thoughtful you are. Personalized glassware such as beer glasses or whiskey glasses, even a custom flask, are great drink inspired gifts that will be functional as well as handsome keepsakes.
Put an inside joke or nickname on the gift to make it a little less serious and give the recipient a nice chuckle. You’re an adult now. You should be drinking from a legendary pint glass. Your whiskey shouldn’t be watered down and deserves a real rocks glass. And if you’re a wine drinker then you definitely need a wine glass that will fit your needs.
Funny Gag Gifts
Funny gag gifts are also an amusing option for 21st birthday ideas. Give a fun alcohol-related shot glass test tube set that everyone can play with before heading out to the bars.
Or perhaps a flask disguised as an everyday object such as an emergency handbook or binoculars so the new drinker can have their booze at a moments notice!
Or perhaps pick up some funny wine glasses that adhere to the recipient’s personality.
Even a sign that is the evening’s rally cry is perfect. These fun gifts are not only a riot to give but can be used that very night. It’s great to cater to functionality as well as bringing something that the whole party can get excited about and enjoy.
Fun Party Games
Whether you’ve decided on a night in or a night out for your big party day, there are a multitude of games that can be played at either! Traditional drinking games at home can include anything from beer pong to king’s cup (ring of fire to some). If your crowd is even more laid back and intimate, a movie or TV show specific drinking game is always fun to partake in, you can even think of your own rules. Games don’t just stop at your front door however, think up some activities before heading out to the bar. Fix up a scavenger hunt that rewards with drinks, find a fellow birthday boy or girl and join them for a shot! Take a sip every time you spy someone displaying PDA. Playing bar games also gives your whole group a great opportunity to mingle with those outside your immediate comfort zone. Everyone will come out of their shell in no time! Refer to the list we created below for a guaranteed good time. But, we think the absolutely best drinking game is Beeropoly. It combines all the best drinking games into one epic event.
Ultimately it doesn’t matter what you end up doing or where you are, your 21st birthday is a big deal. Just remember that you are an adult now, and while some adults still like to shake their tail feathers every once in awhile, they drink responsibly. Be sure to have a designated driver for the evening if you plan on going out. Most bars serve free non-alcoholic beverages to those nice enough to run the streets with their crazy friends. Just as well, if you plan on having a party at your apartment or home, let the neighbors know. Ask them to alert you if things get too loud. They will appreciate the thought and are less likely to get annoyed and file a noise complaint. Disclaimer: Police knocking on your door doesn’t exactly get the party started. Most importantly, have a good damn time because literally the next milestone is finally being able to rent a car and your insurance decreasing when you’re 25. Cheers.
Bar Crawl Scavenger Hunt
Whether you’re playing in teams for competition or doing the scavenger hunt as a whole party for fun, this bar scavenger hunt will keep everyone laughing all night long.
*If you are playing in teams and the birthday guy/gal isn’t present then choose another lucky team member at random. Also if in separate groups, take a photo or video with the random participant for proof of completion. All the collected photos and videos will be fun to look at again the next morning!