How to Celebrate Your 21st Birthday Even if You Hate Birthdays

·6 min read
How to Celebrate Your 21st Birthday Even if You Hate Birthdays

There’s no denying that turning 21 is a HUGE. DEAL. Beyond the birthday outfit, the pressure of doing something memorable is way too stressful to bear! But, oh, look! Here's a handy-dandy list of 21st birthday ideas right here waiting for your fine self, birthday princess. Wink wink, nudge nudge.

Look, I get that it can be tricky to figure out exactly how to mark the milestone—even from this curated list. But I promise there's something for everybody. Want to get wine drunk and flash your license at every bartender? Gotchu. Want a chill night in with your closest crew? Also gotchu. Is your birthday is tomorrow and you're stressed about celebrating safely during a pandemic still and you have *zero* ideas how? Gotchu x100.

If you're ready to do something completely and utterly epic (yes, I'm unironically using the word "epic" like it's 2012, don't @ me), I’ve corralled 25 of the best, most photo-op-worthy 21st birthday ideas, that'll have you coming of age in style. Because really, at the end of the day, we’re all just tryna make ’em ask, “Who is SHE?”

1. Host a themed costume party

Who doesn't love a good excuse to play dress-up? Pick a fun theme (your fave TV show, a cool decade, etc,) and go alllll the way out. You can also get super extra with Zoom backgrounds too.

2. Have a cute picnic

Now, this has got to be the most wholesome way to ring in your 21st year! Secure yourself an adorable picnic blanket and have your guests wear their best florals for the full experience.

3. Sing your heart out at karaoke

There's nothing that can bring people together quite like a good karaoke sesh. I mean just watch the first 10 minutes of High School Musical for further evidence.

4. Take a road trip

Are there any landmarks, restaurants, or hot spots that you've been dying to visit? Rent a car (or RV if you're feeling frisky) with your friends and just drive! Don't forget the bomb birthday playlist though.

5. Scavenger hunt

I can see it now: A boozy "you-themed" scavenger hunt at home. Challenge your friends to secure items at your place like your fave snack or your go-to comfort outfit. Winner gets the last slice of pizza.

6. Party bus!

Parties are somehow 1000% more fun on wheels. Don’t ask me why. It’s just science.

7. Just have a girls’ night out

Wait, you really thought this wouldn't be on the list? I'm never above a classic, bbs.

8. Go to a casino

A very classic 21st birthday party romp: Casino night. Find a joint in your area (or hit up Vegas when it's safer if you’re going all out), squeeze into an aughts-era bandage dress, and try your gambling luck.

9. Two words: spa day

If you’re looking for indulgence in the name of self-care, a spa day is ideal. Line up all the services you’ve been craving: facial, steam room, mud bath, whatever—sorry, boss, you’re OOO!

10. Throw a paint ’n’ sip party

A paint-and-sip class is an easy way to get wasted under the guise of art and friendship. So round up your typical Wine Down Wednesday crew and hit the studio.

11. Take a pole dancing class

So you got super inspired by Lil Nas X's skills in the "MONTERO" music video (same). Why not try a beginner’s pole dancing class? Bring some friends, test your strength, and, hey, you're one step closer to killing it like him.

12. Hit up an escape room

All those in favor of banning corporate-bonding escape room events, please say, “Aye.” All those in favor of reclaiming escape room events for fun 21st birthday parties, please say, “Aye!”

13. Go to a burlesque show

If you’re here for high drama and high glamour, check out a burlesque show. Tamer than a strip club but way more riveting than most acts on a stage.

14. Party at a hotel pool

Book a cabana at your fave hotel pool and take in all the gorgeous views, beautiful people, and delicious small-batch cocktails. In a word: lux-ur-y.

15. Book a bottomless brunch

Okay, we lied. But we couldn’t not include boozy brunch on this list—frankly, it’s a rite of passage. Hunt around for the best deal, make that reservation, and hydrate.

16. Go on a booze cruise

Ask your pals to reserve tickets beforehand, then spend an afternoon watching sunsets, taking in the waves, and sipping cute cocktails while looking cuter.

17. Make all the Jell-O shots

It's not the whole party, but it's a start. And they’re so freakin’ easy and always a crowd-pleaser. Just get instructions right this way.

18. Take so many Polaroid pics

Ditto above, yet nothing says “I’m young and fun!” like snapping a bunch of photos with a nostalgia-inducing real-life camera. The morning after, arrange all the shots on a cute surface so you can share ’em to the gram.

19. Visit the wine country

Grab your crew and plan a visit to a vineyard. Who doesn’t want to frolic in fields of grapes?

20. Get that fancy wine pairing

Book a table at that fancy restaurant you’ve been dying to go to, and when they ask if you want the chef’s wine pairing, say hell yeah you do, because you’re 21 and that’s what adults do.

21. Go on a brewery tour

You’ve def never had a drink before tonight, so why not make your first one at a brewery with some friends? Many places offer small-group tours, so the party can double as a learning opportunity. Knowledge, man.

22. Take a mixology class

Think of it as a debutante ball for your now-of-legal-drinking-age self.

23. Go to a roller disco

It's returned to public consciousness in recent years. Think: Beyoncé’s “Blow” music video and Maddy’s backstory montage in Euphoria. Why not make it real life?

24. Host an adult tea party

Whether you are a die-hard fan of The Crown, are obsessed with Meghan Markle, or just...love tea (?), this might be the cute b-day outing you’ve been looking for. Many hotels hold high tea or you can stage the whole thing at home.

25. Create a 21st birthday bucket list

Have your friends drum up some zany dares, write ’em on a poster, and bam! You’ve got your activity list set for the whole damn night. (Make sure one of them says “raid the buffet.”)

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