21 things to do for your 21st birthday

Freya Hugheson 19 December 2019
21 things to do for your 21st birthday

The year you (supposedly) get the keys to the house. The year you can apply to adopt a child. The year you can finally get a license to fly an aeroplane or gyroplane. You know–endless possibilities.

It’s a big deal, turning 21. 

How to celebrate requires some serious thought. So we thought we’d give you some inspiration so you ring in the age you can finally drink in America, in style.

1. House party

An oldie but a goodie. It’s the classic way to celebrate... pretty much anything.

But this is a big deal. So, pick a theme and go for your life – the more imaginative the better.

Maybe you’ll go for a full on 1980s theme or demand everyone dresses in black tie. Whatever you choose, it’ll make this a stand out night rather than a run of the mill piss up at home.

2. Camping

Nothing says happy birthday like waking up with a death-level hangover in a sweltering tent with an achy back.

It can be fantastic to get away for a celebration, and you’re sure to remember it forever.

Pick your guestlist wisely. And choose your pitching spot perfectly – try not to infuriate fellow campers too much with your incessant tinny music.

3. A beach

Some people won’t be able to join in because holidays are expensive. But, if you can gather up a select few whose loans have dropped early and fancy a bit of sun, you might be in luck.

There are the Magalufs of the world you could go for… 

But there are a load of lovely places that don’t put drinking culture to the forefront of everything. Nothing beats a nice bit of balance.

4. City break

On the theme of going away, exploring a new city can be a lot of fun. Especially in a smaller group.

Get your besties to join you on an expedition of a city that takes your fancy. From Manchester? Explore Brighton. Londoner? Head to Liverpool. 

There’s a lot out there to see and do. And you could even combine it with other birthdays for a whole town takeover.

5. Let two worlds collide?

It’s a big birthday. And it’s a step further into adulthood. 

So it might be time to combine your friends party with your family party. Think about it: a chance for your two favourite groups of people to get to know each other.

Or, think about it this way: your parents will probably provide food and drink while your mates bring the fun. Lovely.

6. Or keep it in the family

Almost everyone you’re related to will remember your first steps, your two-year-old tantrums and the stroppy teenager you became. It might be time to show them what a sophisticated adult you’ve become.

Your parents, aunts and uncles and grandparents will have been around in the happy times. And endured the bad. 

Show your gratitude for their unconditional love with a nice family party. It’ll mean more to them than you might imagine.

7. Something from the bucket list

Even if you haven’t written a real bucket list, there are going to be a few things you’ve always wanted to try. So when better than your birthday to try one out?

Be it snowboarding, paragliding or even karaoke, round up your pals and get active. 

Then you can follow it with...

8. A feast

As you get older, food becomes the staple of social activities. So why not practice for later life by hosting a feast?

You could cook up a storm and impress your guests. Or book a massive table at a restaurant and get someone else to do the hard work. 

Either way, food is the best and for everyone’s sake, it should probably feature at some point in the celebrations.

9. Sports day

Hear us out. We mean like at school with fun stuff like the sack race and three-legged race. Stuff where you can laugh at your buddies’ misfortune.

It doesn’t have to be people taking it all too seriously in proper workout gear. Unless that’s your jam, of course.

It’s surprisingly fun to round up a big group and assign teams to battle it out on the playing field. Combine it with drinks, or not, to see who is the greatest sportsperson of you all.

10. The big gig

If you could see any (alive) artist perform, who would it be? Drop big hints about it or save up and buy yourself a ticket. It’ll be the gig of your 21-year-long lifetime.

Never listen to judgemental friends, though. They’ll just put you off and ruin the experience. No, you need to find the mates who will shout-sing through it all right next to you, sporting a matching fan t-shirt and getting emotional.

That’s going to be a night to remember.

11. A festival

Might be a bit limiting if you were born in December or January. But if you can wait six months or so, consider booking festival tickets to see in the big 21.

You could go big with the likes of Glastonbury (good luck) or Boomtown. Or take it down a notch with a much more chilled event like End of the Road or Love Supreme.

It’s the perfect addition to what could be the summer of your last year of university. 

12. Indulge in a spa day

Because you know what? You deserve it.

It’s been a bit of a slog to reach this age, and with it comes the need for pampering. Right? 

So treat yourself – you only turn 21 once.

13. An activity 

Not the lounging around type? Not a problem. 

With the rise in popularity of things like escape rooms and gaming experiences, there’s a lot of more active stuff to choose from. 

Perhaps you’ll kick it old school and hit up the bowling alley (some have bars, btw), or immerse yourself in a well-rounded VR experience.

14. Take it easy

Sometimes, it’s really nice to just *be*. Especially when things have been full on at university, work and perhaps even at home.

There’s zero shame in simply kicking back and enjoying some down time. 

It’s all very grown up, if you ask us.

15. Be childish

What better way to celebrate the end of your childhood than being as childish as possible?

Rent a bouncy castle. Get copious amounts of cake. Don your favourite Busted t-shirt. Release your inner hyped up child.

Or simply rewatch your favourite Disney movie to be transported back to simpler days.

16. Silent disco

Gimmicky? Sure.

Fun? Absolutely. 

17. Random acts of kindness

It’s your birthday so spread the joy. Extend the celebration to those who may need some brightness in their lives. 

Perhaps a day volunteering or a fundraising activity could make a difference to people who can’t afford or aren’t in a position to celebrate their 21st birthdays.

Food for thought.

18. Turn over a new (healthier) leaf

Is there a better time to try something new than on the anniversary of you being alive? Maybe you’ve been meaning to start your new diet and exercise regime for a while now. Seize the opportunity of a new start.

Game on.

19. Take on a challenge

One second a day, one selfie a day, one real life photograph on paper a day. 

Whatever you decide on, logging a moment from each day of being 21 will be something you’ll look back on fondly when you’re older and cowering at the thought of 30 being around the corner.

Or you could go full Challenge Anneka (google it) and take on a big project to improve things for other people. 

20. Invest in something

You’re a grown up now, so it’s time to be smart. Take some time to work out if there’s anything you’d like to invest some money in – it could turn out to be a right little earner down the line.

Or, if that sounds boring as hell, invest in some quality clothes or shoes that’ll last you. Fast fashion is evil, so something you’ll keep and that’ll stand the test of time will not only help carve out your unique style but it’ll be kind to the planet too.

21. Get hammered

Because, why not?

Freya Hugheson 19 December 2019