Any birthday is a great excuse for drinking it up, but when it’s a 21st birthday party, there’s extra pressure to make it memorable. The 21st birthday is an important rite of passage and should be suitably wild and crazy – preferably without landing the birthday girl or boy in the hospital.
Whether you’re planning your own 21er or surprising a friend, here are a few suggestions for bringing on the drunkenness without too many headaches:
1. Choose a venue.
First order of business is to decide where to celebrate your friend’s ability to drink legally. Do you want to take her to the bar so she can flash her ID and sample every obscenely named shot known to man, or do you want a private celebration where clothes can be removed, tables can be danced upon and bets can be placed on who will wake up in the bathtub?
Huge dilemma, right? Well here’s a solution: Do both. All 21st birthday parties should start at your local pub or tavern. Kick the night off by enacting your friend’s legal right to drink in a bar – or a few, if bar crawling is your thing. After that, head back to your party house to play some drinking party games.
2. Gather bar supplies.
No 21st birthday party is complete without two things: lots of liquor, and swag. If you’re throwing a house party, decide what types of alcohol you want to have on hand, and stock your bar supplies accordingly. At minimum, be prepared to offer endless beer, some sort of liquor for shots, and a few basic mixed drinks.
Another important detail is making sure you have enough bar glassware – especially shot glasses. To really hammer home the theme, consider buying some novelty 21 shot glasses, such as the 21st Birthday Black Light Reactive shot glasses. These shot glass party favors also make great take-home gifts for the guest of honor, or prizes for the drinking game winners.
Finally, the birthday boy or girl should stand out from the crowd, so supply an “I’m 21!” t-shirt, a flashing “21st Birthday” button, or some other bit of humiliating kitsch to wear.
3. Plan some drinking games.
Nothing gets the liquor flowing like some good, old-fashioned drinking party games. Not only are drinking games essential for heating up a cold house party, but they can also add a whole new dimension to drinking at the bar. For example, the Turning 21 Bar Exam requires the birthday boy or girl to complete publicly embarrassing challenges, like tying a cherry stem into a knot or dirty dancing with a stranger.
Card games are another great way to warm up. The classic Bullshit is both easy to play and makes an effective ice breaker, while Asshole can get hilariously complicated. You may also want to incorporate something physically challenging, such as beer pong or drinking darts.
The important thing to remember is that nothing makes a person want to forget their 21st birthday like a horrible hangover, so make sure the birthday boy or girl eats well, drinks lots of water and has a blast.