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21st Birthday Ideas To Make Your Day Memorable

A young woman celebrating her 21st birthday in a bar with her friends.

This post is all about 21st birthday ideas and decorations to make your day special. We may earn a commission on links used in this post. For more information please read our full disclosure.

When it comes to thinking up the perfect 21st birthday ideas for a party or gifts, it can get pretty overwhelming. You want to make this day as memorable as possible – even though insane amounts of alcohol can and will be consumed. What is a gal to do?!

Below we have compiled a list of 21st birthday ideas when it comes to where celebrate your big day (or your bestie’s!) and even some 21st birthday party decorations and gift ideas! 21 is going to be your year – we just know it!

21st Birthday Ideas: Activities

1. Go clubbing in Vegas

A group female friends in Las Vegas, Nevada.

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right?! Well, it may appear on a Snapchat story or two for just 24 hours. Regardless, Vegas is the perfect place to ring in this newfound freedom in adulthood. Celebrating your 21st birthday on The Strip will be one for the books. With countless clubs, dive bars, and incredible shows like Magic Mike – why would you choose anywhere else to begin your 21st year in? 

2. Go to a local club, lounge, or bar

A group of friends celebrating at a local pub.

Keep it local and hit up your usual spot to celebrate! Even if it’s a different spot than you and your gang are used to, stay in town and go to the hottest spot around. Start off by going to a place you haven’t been to before and bar hop to try all the different bars and lounges your city has to offer.

3. Have a birthday brunch

A group of friends enjoying brunch with lots of food on the table.

What is the best thing about having a birthday? Consistently being fed, of course! Plan to meet up with your besties and the cutest brunch place near you. Make sure you all dress up and order Instagram-worthy food content so that you can have a mini photoshoot! Because as we all know, pics or it didn’t happen!

4. Go to the casino

A group of friends gambling at a casino.

Time to use that ID to its max potential by flashing it at a couple of casinos! Take some of that birthday money you got from your grandparents and see if you can try your hand at doubling it! Because, hey, it was just going to be used for Starbucks, anyways!

5. Travel to someplace you’ve been dying to go to

A couple having fun on a hike during sunrise.

Have you been needing a reason to go to that one killer restaurant in the city a few hours away or the newest IG mural in Nashville? In the wise words of Shia LaBeouf, JUST DO IT! Go and have a great time with the crew or your fam – go to where you have just dying to go. Even if it’s just for a long weekend, you won’t regret finally checking it off your bucket list.

6. Go on a cruise

A couple relaxing and sun bathing while on a cruise.

Nowadays, there are cruises that travel to some of the most extraordinary places in the world. From Cancun to Jamaica to Bermuda, get yourself a ride on these amazing sailing resorts! Seriously – they are like actual resort-boats now with colossal buffets, dance clubs, and some even have water parks! Aren’t you thoroughly convinced yet?

7. Rent a hotel room with your friends

A group of young women having fun in a hotel room.

Stay-cations are the new vacations, TBH. You and your friends rent out a suite in the coolest hotel in town and utilize it as your personal birthday celebration pad all weekend long! Let yourself be pampered and not have to make your bed yourself – it is your birthday, after all!

8. Have a birthday dinner

A group of friends watching TV and eating pizza.

Having a birthday dinner doesn’t have to feel like some daunting task you’re used to Mom doing. Get your imagination rolling! Make it a potluck and have guests bring their favorite meals. You can have the chilliest 21st and order in Chinese or pizza and watch White Chicks. But you can always go for heading out to the best restaurant in town with friends and family to cheers to your day!

9. Have a birthday party

A birthday celebration at home with friends.

Let yourself be that 7-year-old again and have a birthday bash! Order a cake, hang streamers everywhere, and heck, throw in a bouncy house if you want! Revert to the time when you really enjoyed having a room full of people singing a song to you while you wait to blow out your candles. If anything, adult it up by offering spiked punch, a saucy game of truth or dare, and even reserve a table at a club to add to the “new adult” factor.

10. Go shopping / treat yourself!

A close look at a woman carrying multiple shopping bags in the mall.

Why not give yourself a little “me time”? Go out, grab that birthday moolah and spoil yourself! Get a brand new dress for later tonight at the club or go get your mani-pedi on! Not to mention, going to a dry bar is the latest craze and worth going to on your birthday – they’ll give you hugs and wine!

11. Attend a bartending class

A bartender pouring cocktails.

Now that you are a legal adult, why not try your hand at mixology? You might just love it! It could also make you the hit of any party – knowing your way around a bar with just a few types of liquor and ice cubes. It could also come in handy if you ever want to take a side job in bartending!

12. Go to a concert

Two women having a fun time at the concert.

Jonas Brothers are on tour again?! And when they are performing in your city is during your birthday? BEST. BIRTHDAY. EVER. Give your parents those sweet puppy-dog eyes you’ve been working on for the last 21 years and convince them this would be the perfect birthday present. Because nothing would be as amazing as jamming to the Jo Bros with your childhood fangirl girlfriends.

13. Have a Paint and Sip Party

A couple surveying the painting they did at a paint and sip party.

Pack up your other of-age girlfriends and get your wine on! Paint and sip parties are probably one of the best ideas going on right now because you don’t even have to be a good painter – just good at drinking wine. Instructors will guide you through processes in painting a picture while you show your friends the phallic shape you “accidentally” drew into the canvas.

21st Birthday Decorations

1. 21st Themed Balloons 

A 21st birthday themed party with decorations.
Source: Pinterest

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Are you even a true VSCO girl if you don’t have numbered and pink balloons for your birthday post? Make sure you wear your cutest Victoria Secrets matching jammies and have your BFF get you all posed for an adorable photo op like this one!

2. Glow in the Dark Beer Pong

Have your first ~legal~ game of beer pong be the talk of the town! Set up the cups in their designated spots, but wrap glow sticks around them for a cool, retro look. Want even more glow? Break open the sticks and write “Beer Pong!” on the table. And don’t worry about ruining it, the glow comes right off with soap and water!

3. POP the Bubbly! use this one 

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So, if your bestie is turning 21 and you want to really show her a fun start to her day – recreate this awesome pic! Get a champagne balloon, along with a ton of gold, white, and silver ones, and tape them up on the wall to make it look like you’re pouring out the bubbly!

4. Photo Booth Set-Up

A simple and elegant photo booth setup.

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While you’re having the time of your life having the best 21st ever, don’t forget to document it with pictures! The best way to do this is to set up a go-to photo booth. On a wall, hang décor, flowers, streamers, and balloons for a gorgeous backdrop. On a table next to this designated area, set it up with feather boas, flamboyant hats, and silly signs to add to yours and your guests’ creativity for the pictures!

5. Have Your Cake + Drink It, Too!

A cake make of various alcoholic drinks.
Source: Pinterest

We’re all adults here, right? The first and probably last things you’re going to be doing on your 21st is throwing back some drinks. If you’re having a party or helping set up for one, get creative with utilizing an adult beverage cake rather than a Funfetti one. Stack up those PBRs or Four Lokos and place a cute little cake topper at the center and you got yourself one cake everyone will remember. Or maybe not!

6. Balloon Backdrop

Classy black and silver 21st birthday decorations.
Source: Pinterest
Neon 21st birthday decorations with balloons.
Source: Instagram

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Now that you have a photo booth and the props all set up for it – how in the world do you design the perfect Pinterest backdrop? With balloons, of course! Whatever your favorite color may be or the perfect color palette of the party, get a couple dozen from your local party store and go to town on the backdrop! Many places now sell balloons in the shape of numbers (thank you, Pinterest!) and can stack them on top of each other to make a scene look more dramatic. Pair them with glimmering streamers and you just became the newest, cutest Instagrammer out there!

7. Tequila Is a Girl’s Best Friend

A bucket of alcoholic drinks for the 21st birthday celebration.
Source: Pinterest

Although we may love a beautiful bouquet of fancy roses, any girl turning 21 would love a bouquet of mini bottles of their fav alcohols instead. As a 21st birthday gift idea, get a cute little basket, stuff it with goodies like funny shot glasses, a big ol’ 21 smack in the middle of it, but most importantly – filled with mini bottles of rum, Fireball, tequila, and all of the birthday girl’s favorite drinks!

To have a 21st birthday party that you’ll never forget, you may have to plan to have one that you may forget! Between taking a staycation with your closest friends or setting up a glow-in-the-dark beer pong station outside of your dorm, your 21st is going to be epic. Whether you use these ideas or do something completely different on your own, we wish you a very safe and happy 21st birthday! Welcome to real adulthood!

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25 Amazing 21st Birthday Ideas for College Girls!

Written by The Metamorphosis

The Metamorphosis is a lifestyle blog about the journey of college to adulting. Here you can find the tips for college, self-improvement, adulting, and more.

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