Last Updated: Jan 4, 2017
Your 21st birthday party is one for the books. You’ve endured being left at home because you weren’t able to tag along with your older friends to their ultimate destination. You’ve waited patiently as other friends turned 21 and you were only able to attend the early bird dinner party for their night-long celebration. You’ve even survived family events where you weren’t allowed to sit at the table with the adults. Now it’s your turn to bring in your 21st birthday and we have a long list of ideas that’ll help you decide how you want to commemorate this milestone. Whether you’re interested in trying a new cocktail or you’re looking for ways to not end up at a bar, explore 21st birthday ideas that range from creative to classic.
How to Celebrate Your 21st Birthday
There are plenty of ways to celebrate your 21st birthday! You don’t have to settle for bar hopping or an unorganized house party to bring in one of the most highly anticipated days of your life. You can hit the road with your friends, host a bonfire in your backyard, or take a bartending class with friends to learn about cocktails. Whatever you decide to do, avoid waiting until the last minute to decide on an idea and make sure that you’re excited about your plans. Find a variety of unique 21st birthday party ideas below that are bound to expand your birthday options.
21st Birthday Brunch
Head to brunch and order mimosas for the first time! Find the best brunch spot in town and reserve a table or patio area for a daytime birthday celebration with your family and friends. Send champagne-inspired cocktail party invitations to spread the cheer.
Birthday Road Trip
You’re 21 and you can finally rent a car. Hit the road with a few of your friends and take a road trip! Prepare a playlist, load up on snacks, and grab your favorite sunglasses for a breezy car ride.
Skip the chaos and get your rest and relaxation on with a fun day trip to the spa! Massages, face masks, mani-pedi’s, and mimosas make for a fun 21st birthday experience. This is a stress-free birthday idea that doesn’t require much planning.
Take a Day Cruise
Celebrate your 21st birthday party at sea by planning a short day cruise. Enjoy drinks and good weather with your favorite people.
Head to Las Vegas, NV
Stick with tradition and head to Las Vegas, NV, for an unforgettable birthday weekend with family and friends. Enjoy nightclubs, buffets, casinos, and shopping for an epic birthday extravaganza.
Wine Tasting Party
Learn everything you need to know about wine by hosting a classy wine tasting party or visiting a winery with friends. This party idea is useful for reducing stress when it’s time to navigate the wine aisle at the grocery store. Find more tips and inspiration in our guide on wine tasting party ideas.
Hit a Nightclub/Lounge/Bar
You’re finally able to use your ID to get into 21+ venues. Show off your brand new power by celebrating your birthday with friends at a nightclub, lounge, or bar. You can reserve your own table to stay close-knit with your group or hit the dance floor all night long.
Take a Bartending Class
Learn how to make a cocktail by taking a one-day bartending class! This is a fun way to learn about what actually goes into a cocktail. Find out what drinks you like and don’t like by learning the basics of Bartending 101.
Although you’ve probably outgrown sleepovers, this doesn’t mean you can’t go on an overnight trip with your friends. Spend the weekend at a hotel that you’ve never stayed at before with a few close friends. Indulge in a spa day, hit the pool, order room service, and parlay at the hotel lounge.
If you can’t stay away from the beach, this party idea is for you. Gather your crew for an evening bonfire full of stories and s’mores at a local beach. Bring plenty of blankets, pillows, and finish the night off with sparklers.
Destination 21st Birthday
Go all out and plan a vacation with loved ones that conveniently falls around the time of your 21st birthday. Whether you’d like to experience the French Quarter in New Orleans, LA, or save up for an escape to Hawaii or Jamaica, destination trips are a blast. Document your time away so you can craft the perfect birthday photo book when you come back.
21st Birthday Party Themes
If you’re more interested in throwing a party at your apartment, parents’ house, or a venue, you can begin your party planning process by choosing a 21st birthday party theme. You can easily organize your party decorations, food, and birthday cake if you set the tone for your party with one complete theme. Your friends will be more than happy to help you make any idea come to life. Once you find a theme, don’t forget to choose a set of 21st birthday party invitations to spread the excitement about your 21st birthday party in style.
- Costume Party: Add a bit of mystery to your 21st birthday experience by throwing a memorable costume party. You can have guests wear costumes from a specific decade or you can throw a classic costume party and let your friends be as creative as they want. The photographs from this party will keep you laughing far beyond your 21st birthday.
- Throwback Party: If you had a favorite party theme as a kid, now is the perfect time to re-create that theme but in a new way. Combine heartfelt elements of your childhood with 21-year-old decorations, games, and a themed bar to give your old party theme a fresh take. This is the perfect way to reminisce on the past while looking to the future.
- Favorite Color: Base your 21st birthday party theme off of your favorite color! This is a theme idea that’s true to you and allows for plenty of creativity. Explore a variety of DIY projects and décor options as long as they go hand in hand with your favorite color or selected color palette. Choose a few signature drinks and a grandiose birthday cake that match your color choice.
- Mardi Gras: Take a few cues from New Orleans, LA, and throw a Mardi Gras-inspired soiree for your 21st birthday. You can deck your party space out with colorful beads, serve Cajun food, and set up a margarita or daiquiri bar. Do your best to re-create the French Quarter for a fun and creative birthday story.
- Las Vegas: Bring Las Vegas, NV, straight to your backyard with a Las Vegas-inspired birthday party theme. Set up a glamorous bar area, scatter casino-inspired tables for guests, and serve food buffet-style for all things Las Vegas. You can even roll out a red carpet and have a friend pose as a club bouncer near the party entrance.
How to Throw a 21st Birthday Party
If you’re throwing a 21st birthday party for someone else, we have a few easy tips that will keep you grounded. After you’ve chosen a theme from above, follow these steps below to keep your head above water when planning your friend or loved one’s celebration.
- If you’re throwing a surprise 21st birthday party, make sure everyone is informed that the party is a surprise so there aren’t any spoiler alerts. Choose party invitations that clearly indicate that you’re hosting a surprise party.
- Designate a conspirator to keep the birthday boy or girl busy before they head to the surprise party location.
- Gather your crew and split up the work!
- Warn your neighbors in advance that you’re throwing a party.
- Choose foods that you can prepare the day before or set aside a budget for catering so your guests can enjoy themselves on a full stomach.
Although there are plenty of ways to celebrate the big 2-1, you should always opt for an idea or theme that feels right for you. Your 21st birthday party is all about you and your plans should reflect that. You can either go all out with your friends or seize the opportunity to relax and unwind. Make your birthday wish, blow out the candles and have a happy 21st birthday.