Cheers to turning 21 years old and remembering it! Here are some fantastic and fun ideas for celebrating this rite of passage from adolescence to beyond. Just be sure to pace yourself on the alcohol-related shenanigans. No one wants to be a party pooper but it’s far less lame than burying your head in a toilet, ostrich-style. So grab a lemonade if you’re not yet 21 and take notes on cool ways to celebrate one of the most fun nights in young adulthood.
1. Learn about beer or wine at a tasting event.
Graduate from virgin drinks while learning a thing or two. Do they taste nutty or fruity? Do you even care? Many liquor stores offer free tastings, complete with snack foods, so find the closest one near you and dabble with booze legally and cheaply!
2. Swallow your pride and sing karaoke.
Down a glass of liquid courage and get up on that stage! No one will care if your singing voice is less than stellar (and they’re most likely tipsy as well). Karaoke with a theme is an extra fun time.
3. Go on a road trip with a few of your closest friends.
Visit a new road, store or restaurant. Head to a different part of the country or travel an hour away from home. You can go anywhere, as long as you haven’t been there before. The location doesn’t matter as much as making memories.
4. The traditional pub crawl is always a great option.
Especially if you live in a place surrounded by many bars and restaurants. My favorite location for a pub crawl is Fort Lauderdale, where you can take the water taxi from bar to bar, restaurant to restaurant. College towns like Boston are other awesome locations.
5. Enjoy the day outside with Beer Olympics.
Split your party of friends into groups, and let the battle of brawn, wits and alcoholic tolerance begin! Create a team theme song to sing as you parade around the yard. Then spend the next few hours playing beer pong, sliding to a flip cup face off and finishing with a chugging competition.
6. Do you need an excuse for an extravagant or wacky purchase? Go cocktail shopping!
Birthdays are a popular time to go shopping. After all, there must be some way to spend those gift cards! Better than shopping, however, is cocktail shopping. Yo-yo between department stores and restaurants. Later, those bright purple corduroys will make for an interesting story, even if you never wear them.
7. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day but brunch is the more fun!
This meal is the best of two worlds, and you can sleep in. In addition to enjoying many delectables, brunch helps you coat your stomach in preparation for further birthday debauchery. Pair your french toast, eggs and bacon with a mimosa or hibiscus champagne cocktail. There is no downside to birthday brunch.
8. Go camping and celebrate under the stars.
Leave the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy a night outside. Spend the day barbecuing, swimming and hiking, and the night making smores, telling ghost stories and cuddling under blankets.
9. Duh! Go on a liquor store run.
The biggest difference that we experience when we turn 21 is the ability to purchase alcohol. So go out there and buy some alcohol. Get it out of your system.
10. Visit the theater.
Attend a musical or ballet. Watch an opera. It doesn’t matter what you do, just get classy. Perhaps this means splurging a bit, but you only turn 21 once (unless you’re in denial about aging).
11. Host (or convince your friend to host) a wine-and-cheese party.
Until now, you may have only heard of the heaven that is wine and cheese parties. Now it’s time to throw (or attend) one and see what the hype is all about for yourself. Asking each guest to bring their favorite bottle of wine is also a smart way to potentially stock up your wine rack.
12. Rather than drinking alcohol, eat it.
Try an alcoholic food-themed party. There are so many different dishes to experiment with. Make spiked fruit salad, beer brats, Kahlua cake trifle and gummy bears soaked in vodka or rum. Just be sure to have some non-alcoholic foods too (though the brats should be void of alcohol content after they cook).
13. Use your birthday as an opportunity (excuse?) to flirt with your love interest.
Pair this idea up with #9 and ask your older interest to drive you to the liquor store. This is how I ended up with my first boyfriend! Even if you don’t ask him (or her) for a lift, definitely flirt. You automatically get a pass on daring gestures on your birthday, so don’t pass this opportunity up.
14. Plan a trip out of the country.
Everyone should travel internationally, and few years are easier than the early 20s. At this age, most of us only need to worry about ourselves. So visit the museums of France or Italy, volunteer in South America, take a safari in Africa, or hop on the scotch trail in Scotland.
15. Take 21 selfies with 21 friends (or even strangers).
It’s all about meeting new people and creating memories along the way. Most people will also want to take pictures with the party girl or guy. Afterward, make a collage and share to Facebook. After all, it didn’t happen if it’s not on Facebook. Right?
16. Host a poker night.
Stay in, enjoy a beer or two and play your friends out of a bit of money. If you’re feeling particularly festive, round out the experience with a cigar.
17. Be brave! Try 21 new things.
Spend a day trying 21 new things. They can be food, activities or venues. Be creative.
18. Eat dessert… for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Perhaps even all three! Everyone needs a cheat day now and then, and there is no better excuse than turning 21.
19. Enjoy a classy dinner.
Call a friend or two and enjoy an expensive, sophisticated night of exquisite culinary treats and smooth champagne or wine.
20. Watch the sunrise as you reflect on an amazing night and welcome the adventures to come.
21. Do whatever you want… except nothing!
It really doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you enjoy yourself. If you prefer staying home, drinking a beer and playing video games then have at it! Ok… maybe don’t stay home alone playing video games… at least, call some friends over to play with you.