21st birthday ideas

21st birthday
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Birthday Ideas ,

Here are a range of good ideas for your 21st birthday party.

What’s special about the 21st?

A person’s 21st birthday used to be one of the most important.  It marked “coming of age” when it was possible to vote and to get married without parental consent.  Symbolically, this was marked by presenting the “keys to the door” and some 21st birthday cards still use the key symbol.

21st birthday party themes

“Retro” themes are really popular.  You could celebrate using a theme of the birth year.  You could get ideas from a website which contains information about that year, such as the BBC.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/ilove/years/1988/news.shtml

You could have a theme based on 21+21.  2010 will mark the 42nd anniversary of the running of the last mainline steam passenger service in Britain in 1968.  If you live close enough to a railway preservation society, you could hire a steam train for a party.

You could even go back 100 years.  That’s what Princess Beatrice of York did for her 18th birthday party in 2006.  Her party, which reputedly cost £500,000 to stage, was based on the year 1888, a century before her own birthday.  You could use a similar theme at much less cost.

The Number 21

For a fun theme, what about asking everyone attending your party to come dressed using the theme 21.  They could wear a t-shirt with the number 21 on it; they could pin 21 brooches to their dress; they could use a “21” transfer on their arm.  Leave it to their imagination.  One thing you probably won’t see is someone wearing 21 pairs of socks.  Have you ever tried it?

How about playing the card game “vingt-et-un”? (that’s the French for 21).  You could invite just 21 guests, although that might be difficult.  How do you decide who to include and who to leave out?

A Chinese Banquet - with more to come

A Chinese Banquet with 21 courses

Chinese Banquet – a meal with 21 courses

Another idea would be to have a meal with 21 courses.  This need not be as intimidating as it seems.  When the Chinese provide a 100 course banquet, this does not mean that everyone is given 100 full plates of food.  Chinese food is served on the basis of a buffet and there are merely 100 different dishes from which to choose.  Finding 21 different dishes should not be too much of a challenge.  You could include some small light things such as a bowl of peanuts or crisps as part of your buffet.

If you want to give favours to people leaving your party, you could use the 21 theme.  It need not cost a fortune.  You might give them a bag containing 21 sweets.

General themes

Other themes could include basing the party around a film such as Grease or Mamma Mia, or if you are looking for a film from 21 years or so ago, Crocodile Dundee.  You will find other ideas elsewhere on this website.


A small party could be held at home.  In the summer putting up a marquee or gazebo in the garden can provide extra space, but you need to think about access to toilets, and (given the unreliability of the weather) what you will do it is wet or cold.  To avoid complaints from the neighbours if the party will be going on into the night, it is sensible to check with them first.  What about inviting them?

For a larger party you could use a hotel, sports clubhouse, or village hall.  If the birthday boy or girl is a football fan, most football clubs can provide hospitality suites or party venues.  Some venues will be able to provide catering as well.

Why party at night?

Instead of having an evening party, you could organise an afternoon or all day outing.  This could include:

  • a day at the races – organise transport to a racetrack and arrange refreshments either at the venue, or on the way back
  • a trip to the cinema for a good film, adjourning afterwards to a nearby pub or restaurant for a meal
  • an activity event such as paintballing
  • a day sea fishing – the boat operator may be able to provide catering, and if not, will generally allow you to bring your own picnic.


This is probably the last birthday that you can put one candle for each year of age on the cake without hiding the cake completely.  Go for it!  Don’t forget, as well, the tradition of the “key to the door”.  You could use this as a decoration, or even bake a cake the shape of a key.


Published On: 10th Aug 2009

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  1. 21st Birthday Idea – What’s best for you?

    The twenty first birthday party is the one where you make your real big statement to say that you are now an adult. The only problem is that at 21, most people aren’t earning enough to live and to throw a big party. So, if you have any brains, save the money and do something memorable without spending too much money. This is the first real test of being an adult. Knowing what’s best for you!
    If money is not an issue, then there’s no problem. Let the creative juices flow and decide how many of your friends you want to treat for your special party. Large numbers look impressive, but it’s not a great idea. No one really has “large numbers” of friends. It’s best to have a party on a scale that you can give special attention to each guest to make them feel important and well looked after. When you see their eyes light up with the entertainment and surprises that you’ve arranged, it will give you an adrenaline rush like never before. The success of the 21st birthday party will influence your relationships with those people for 9 years until the next great party. That is, unless you throw in a wedding in the middle somewhere.
    Having entertained guests at over 800 different parties, it is easy to speak about the ones that were a huge success.

    21ST BIRTHDAY IDEA - WHAT'S BEST FOR YOU? 31 Aug at 10:09 pm
  2. Dress up in eighties gear (complete with 80’s makeup)and dance round your garden whilst belting out your favourite Wham hit!

    Catherine Mitchell 16 Nov at 3:37 pm
  3. If you were born in the 80’s do a mullet party!!

    Lee 20 Nov at 2:09 pm
  4. Silly Games Day-head down to your local park n have a silly games day, include games like the egg & spoon race, sack race, bean bag throwing, three legged race etc. charge people to enter

    Anonymous 24 Feb at 11:07 am
  5. Launch 21 Sky Lanterns.

    They are amazing and it will a party to remember.

    Gemini Bateman 12 Aug at 2:56 pm
  6. I Like night party on the beach while playing guitar.
    It must be very pleasant.

    Hobbys Beauty 27 Aug at 4:17 pm
  7. Custom made coin medallions. Your face, your name and a message 3D machined onto solid metal and presented in a luxury wooden box. This is truly a unique gift.

    Bodley Medallions 13 Oct at 9:28 am
  8. so ur 21 =)
    you want to start your evening of, about 6pm with a nice evening, go to the cinemas with your friends, adn put the flash on and annoy the other people watching the film by taking LOTS AND LOTS of picture (memories) come out laughing and try to sneak into another movie if u get caught GREAT it’l b halirious.. next go out to eat at about 9-10oclock sumwhere nice again take MORe pictures, the last thing to do is go to a stripclub with your friends, take picturessss, and then BRING ON THE SHOTS, join in with the strippers and have fun, get ur friends to take pictures
    (do u understand why i said take lots nad lots of pictures, becuase your probably not gonna end up remembering half of it when u wake up the next morning)

    Or jus stay at a hotel andd then go to a theme park..

    fatty BOOM 14 Oct at 10:31 pm
  9. 21st birthday party ideas for the rich!

    When I say rich, I mean really rich, not some celebrity with a few dollars. I mean rich, so that you don’t ever have to ask about the cost or use the word “budget.”

    1. Contact the Burj Khalifa, which is the world’s tallest building and hire the top floors. Arrange for the Red Arrows to do flyby, followed by 21 hot air balloons floating pass the building with your name on each balloon. Your DJ jumps out of the last balloon and carefully parachutes onto the building, enters and starts the party.

    2. Hire 3 or more luxury yachts, depending on the number of guests and make an enclosure in the middle of a deep bay. For your grand entrance, you surface from the middle of the enclosure in a military submarine. A helicopter then airlifts you onto the main yacht. The submarine dives, followed by a 3 aircraft flyby and the party begins.

    If you successfully adopt any of the above ideas, or variation on the same theme, you are welcome to send a gratuity to Big Sand with some photos from the event.

    Big Sand - steel band hire 18 Jan at 9:25 am
  10. Imagine a great artist such as Picasso or Salvador Dali running a life painting workshop for a hen party. Great male model, totally eccentric artist directing events, easels, acrylic paint and lots of large canvases for those ‘amazing’ paintings.

    Paul Priestley 25 Jan at 6:49 pm
  11. my olds is going to the police acde. so i’m taken her to the shooting range with 3 of her friends about 20 family is a surprise she’s turning 21 shhhh don’t tell thing are looking good she don’t want a party any more she said party out i gave her to many she said that this is not one i think lol

    sandy 7 May at 4:24 pm
  12. for a 21st birthday, do black jack. your 21 and the number has to add up to 21, whats better tgab that? its fun and different & especially good if you like cards.

    carol 24 May at 12:42 am
  13. My boyfriend hired a ‘tarzanogram’ for my 21st birthday, it was a suprise when this handsome hunk burst through the door and scooped me up in his arms!
    I still rememebr it well 20 years later!

    Sophie 18 Jun at 8:27 am
  14. choose a letter of da alphabet & evry1 comes dressed as something starting with dat letter…

    ashlee 26 Jun at 5:50 am
  15. Upload a photo of the birthday boy/girl & we will create masks of their face. They will have the surprise of their life when they walk into the room & everyone is wearing his/her face!!!
    A great ice-breaker for any party or event.

    Chris O'Nyan 30 Jun at 8:02 am
  16. Im just starting planning for my 21st now
    Its 4 months away and is looking to be a big task.
    Im wanting to have an Oscars Theme night.
    Im hoping to hold it at my house and do up the whole backyard
    It will be a very formal night but hopefully fun none the less 🙂

    stephanie 30 Jul at 10:27 pm
  17. For 21st Birthday Present you could have a fake magazine cover created for the birthday boy or girl

    Dave 4 Sep at 9:53 am
  18. I just went to thailand by my self for two weeks and had a ball. Cant wait to go back!!

    Jamie ch-ch NZ 1 Nov at 7:31 am
  19. The outdoor parties are the best ! always in summer , but with the heating available nowadays winter is an option too. Its true that you need a marquee, but if you havent got the space for one, ask around. You’d be suprised how many people have friends who DO have the space, it doesnt have to be massive and will fit in most large graden or small fields. They’re cheap to hire too !

    It makes so much difference to have an outdoor party.. soooo much more atmosphere. Try it !

    Mr Packaging 2 Nov at 4:57 pm
  20. hire a hall and party party party!!!

    tasha 17 Nov at 12:54 pm
  21. My 21st is a year and 3 months away and i’m already planning. I’m having a masked ball in a private house and I’m trying to think of entertainment to have. I was thinking maybe having a latin band as family and friends will be there so it’s hard to cater for all tastes. I had a fun casino for my 18th which was amazing so i’ll deffinately have that again. Anyway it’s early days in my planning but i would deffinately recommend a fun casino at your party.

    LizzieSheard 28 Dec at 10:10 pm
  22. I have been invited to be a programme director in a 21st birthday party in less than 5 days from now. I am 27years, I need ideas on how to make everyone happy, excited and so on.

    Siba Nethavhakone 4 Jan at 10:03 am
  23. You should book a banqueting type hall thing that comes with a bar and a dj, invite your friends and family, have cake, have a theme for the place and for ur dress and invitations! make it 2nd best to ur wedding because who knows when you will get married lol! invite all the people that have remained in constant touch with you throughout your 21 years of living, have a slideshow of your pics -baby pics, toddler pics, with parents pics, etc. have a stand so you can pictures on it! also, as guests arive, have white backdrop, so they can take a picture with u! yes hire a photographer!! and get a family member to record the whole night or parts of the night! MAKE IT BIG! ULL LOVE IT :D. don’t spend over 3 grand though 😎 x

    Kaos 6 Jan at 11:52 pm
  24. Have a special 21st!!
    Invite some guests,
    Sit around enjoy the senory
    Maybe have a few drinks (drink sensibly!)
    Book a flight to hong kong by yourself…
    Have a ball! 😀
    Go back the next year and see how many people you met. 8)

    TABOOO 9 Jan at 2:43 pm
  25. Yes Tabooo,
    That takes me back, i did exactly that!
    The party was great, had fun while drinking sensibly 🙂
    Then caught my flight to Thailand
    Had such great fun! And iv lived there ever since <3 x

    Susan 9 Jan at 2:47 pm
  26. My 21st Birthday Gift was a weekend in Paris with my Boyfriend. Hotel, Flights and a meal in the Eifel Tower where included. I will never forget it, a memory for a lifetime!

    Abby 18 Jan at 3:04 pm
  27. IDK what i should do for my 21 birthday abnd idk what about a D.D should i get a limo or a party bus cau smy friend is paying for the ride

    malia 12 Mar at 10:41 pm
  28. A fashion party is a great way in celebrating a 21st birthday. Everyone will be dressing up. There should be a runway and everyone will get to ramp. There should be winners too. This is going to be a lot of fun.

    Marie 8 Jun at 8:26 am
  29. Decorating the party venue with the Birthday person’s Birth Flower or buying a bouquet of 21 Birth Flowers is a very thoughtful gift.

    The symbol of the 21st birthday is the key so birthday gifts that include a key are very memorable. A key pendant which includes their birthstone is a very special gift.

    Brenda 6 Sep at 10:30 am
  30. My birthday in January 10 and im having for my 21st is going to be the mad hater

    bully ant 25 Nov at 5:49 am
  31. Have a champagne breakfast:)
    Enjoyed inside or outside in the summertime. All the people enjoyed the
    scrambled eggs, mini sausages wrapped in a bacon (pigs in a blanket),
    prawns done in garlic,
    hash browns,
    vol au vent’s,
    croissants etc.
    The children enjoyed the pancakes and cupcakes. The ideas are endless.
    Add a bunch of beautiful flowers (their favourite colour) at the table or tables and some helium balloons.
    You can even use sheets for the table cloths if you are running short.
    Maybe write a funny poem 21 lines long.

    Angels 8 Dec at 7:12 pm