You’ve almost made it to the most exciting birthday of your life. It only goes down from here (or so I’m told. But I don’t know, I’m only 21 myself. And I also highly doubt it… I’m really excited for my 20s, plus I really hope it gets better from here…). But anyway, happy birthday. I am here to give you 21 tips on how to make your 21st Birthday the absolute best day ever. But before I dive into helping you decide whether your 21st Birthday will be jungle themed or a picnic in the park, I’ll tell you a little story about my 21st Birthday. My 21st birthday was really the exact opposite of what most everybody would hope for their big day. Which may cause you to believe I’m not the best woman for this job. But there is a point to my story. So stick with me here…
Just a few days before my birthday I had moved into a new apartment in New York (which was a positive), but that came with a few negatives. The negatives went like this: 1. My room was a disaster from move-in. Being the Virgo and control freak I am, I just could not chill out with still-packed garbage bags and suitcases surrounding me. 2. My dresser (ordered many days prior) had finally just arrived. This late arrival of my dresser prevented me from being able to put those previously mentioned still packed clothes away before the big 21st birthday. But when it was finally supposed to arrive (sometime within a 6 hour window on my birthday), an employee from the brand who shall not be named was also supposed to come with it. They were to help me assemble the dresser – or assemble it up themselves- along with carrying the ever so heavy boxes up my walkup.
Annoyed that I was going to be spending my whole birthday waiting for a dresser to arrive, my roommate (thank you girl love you) offered to take over- allowing me to go brunch with some friends and enjoy the beautiful NYC outdoors.
The day was looking up from here, but little did I expect my roommate to text me in the middle of my granola-bowl-brunch that the package had arrived (yay), but the supposed-to-assemble assembler hadn’t. Thus, my supposed-to-be assembled dresser came the exact opposite way I anticipated: unassembled.
Let’s backtrack… this day, my 21st birthday, was also the last day for a friend very near and dear to my heart to be in the city. Later that afternoon she was to fly back to school to start her semester. This added to the down-in-the-dump feels I was having all day as I would not see her for many months!
Back to the story… so when my friend and I arrived back to my apartment to gather her things needed for the airport, there it was: my very exciting 21st birthday activity (my disassembled dresser, that is).
Any-who, after my friend was dropped off at the airport (sad) and I had already done my moderately fun 21st birthday event (brunch, but not the boozy kind) it was time for me to really live the life of a twenty-one year old… an adult. Time to put together that dresser.
In the midst of my assembly, my nana called to wish me a happy day (too late, Nan. I’m literally building a dresser on the night of my 21st). I was sweating profusely while creating my masterpiece. Which I told her, only to hear the response “why don’t you ask one of the boys you are friends with to help you?” I was appalled by this. Because not only do I have an extremely small number of guy friends. But EVEN IF I HAD ONE HUNDRED guy friends… I do NOT NEED NO MAN. I AM AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN. Which I also told her. So I kept at it. With my handy dandy screwdriver and the many scattered wooden planks covering my floor, I was determined to get ‘er done.
When the dresser was finally assembled…
…and my clothes were all folded away, a surge of emotions overwhelmed me. I had just built my first completely self-made piece of furniture, I was living in my very first New York City apartment, and I was 21 years old- a real adult, but with so much more ahead of me. I felt a sense of productivity and self-assuredness that I never anticipated. So while I didn’t go crazy with my friends on a party bus around the city (that was my best friend’s 21st, a story for a different time), and my 21st birthday was much quieter and different than the movies, it was nothing short of monumental. So my point of the story: your 21st birthday does not have to be “one for the books” for it to be one for the books. You do not have to focus solely on the very night- which drinks you’ll try, which bars and clubs you’ll finally get into, or which of your friends will be sober enough to tuck you in after the big night. Especially with all that is going on in the world right now, my advice is this: simply allow yourself, on your very own 21st birthday, to enjoy it. Enjoy the monumental number you can now title yourself by. Enjoy how much you’ve grown to reach this point. And enjoy each and every part of the potentially mundane day.
That being said, here are some ideas for your 21st birthday whether you want to really spice it up, or have a nice night in:
*The following ideas can be done at home or in public. But make sure if it is safe in your area!
1. 21st Birthday Checklist
Whether that’s a bucket list for your 21st year or a list of activities to do on your special day, think of some things you’ve always wanted to do and jot them down for encouragement.
2. Bottomless Brunch
Cook a brunch at home with some homemade marys & ‘mosas, or try a restaurant (if they’re open & ~spaciousss~, that is!)
3. Wine Night with the Girls…
…sponsored by your brand new ID!
4. Fancy Dinner at a New Restaurant
Pasta & some fine wine is never a bad idea. May I suggest your local Little Italy?
5. Spend a day Exploring the City
People watching and shopping is always a go! Spend the day outside enjoying the people and places your city has to offer.
6. Spend the day Exploring the Great Outdoors
A nice hike is recipe for appreciation- for your life, your surroundings, your friends and yourself!
7. Movie Night with (many) Snacks
Set up your own space or visit a theater. Just make sure not to skimp on that popcorn or that Sweedish Fish.
8. Homemade Gourmet Dinner
Little Italy not an option? Two words: home. made. Grab some friends or family, and go all out with the delicious dish.
9. Invest in an Experience
The gift that keeps on giving. Sign up for those art lessons you’ve always wanted to take!
10. Paint Wine Glasses
Put your creativity to work! Whether you love that glass of red or prefer some classic OJ, wine glasses are always fun to use (ask my sister, we grew up drinking anything you can imagine out of these things).
If OJ is more up your alley, no fear. Just because you don’t want to drink DOES NOT mean you can’t have fun. Try a homemade mocktail- like a virgin Marg or another fruity specialty!
12. Sip & Savasana
Drunk yoga classes were all the rage for a while. So take a yoga class (with or without alc) and find your 21st bday zen (ommmm).
Time for a night on the town. Just follow wherever the night takes you (responsibly, obvi).
Invite your best gal friends over for a slumber partyyyy… just like old times.
15. Spa Day, Spa Night
Get a mani-pedi, take a bath, do a face-mask, sit back and relax.
16. Party Bus
Invite some friends and go for a ride around the town (when it’s safe to be within 6 feet of each other. Party busses aren’t that big).
17. Polaroid Pic Collage
Take some photos of you and your friends all 21st birthday long & create the cutest collage out of them!
18. Photo Booth Photo Shoot
You can never have too many 21st birthday pics. Create a cute set up and get those gram photos! (then use these for that polaroid collage!)
19. Theme Decor
Decide the theme- one that will totally excite you for your new year. Whether that’s ‘Parisian Picnic’ or ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ grab (or make!) some decor to decorate your party space.
20. Romantic Picnic
Speaking of ‘Parisian Picnic’, bring that romantic fantasy to wherever you’re at! Whether it’s with your special someone or your bffs, take a nice packed lunch and a checkered towel to your nearby park. Charcuterie board and Rosé, anyone?
21. Build a dresser…
…or literally anything else you have to do. Just enjoy it, whatever it is and appreciate the moment you’re at in life. This is your 21st BIRTHDAY AFTER ALL!