It’s Almost My 21st Birthday, Now What?

lauren_conrad.jpgIt seems like just yesterday that I was anxiously twirling around in pink tights and a princess crown through some dirty frat house with my best friend Fiona dancing to “Everybody Dance Now,” eating chocolate mousse cake, and throwing my Steve Maddens at the boy who I didn’t know at the time would soon become my boyfriend, all in the name of my 20th birthday.

And now, a year has nearly passed, and I am about to turn the big 2-1. It is the day I can not only legally buy alcohol, but the day that all college students look forward to as their last passage into adulthood on campus (at least before senior year). It is the day that I can no longer get sent to student conduct council for underage drinking. The day I can walk up to the bar and order a mojito, legally. I no longer will have to worry about being carded when trying to order a drink somewhere. The day that I turn into a real adult – whatever that means – as decided by the world.

But really, how do I spend this occasion?

In my dream world, I would hire Girl Talk to do live mash-ups of Elton John, Britney Spears, and Guns N Roses while I dance alongside my best friends in dresses that aren’t just from H&M and Forever 21 in some sparkly New York City bar where we throw back pink cocktails in between cupcakes. But I don’t live in a dream world. In fact, I live in Roanoke, Virginia – which is as far from my dream world as I can get for my birthday, especially since there isn’t even a Forever21 of H&M for 60+ miles.

Although the reality of my 21st birthday may not sparkle in a New York City kinda way (however, my nails probably will in a cheap-nailpolish-glittery-concoction type of way), I am not going to let that stop me from having one of the best nights of my college experience. The question of how to do it, though – and not just do it, but do it well – plagues me.

Where do I have my party? In the sketchy upstairs backstage area of my university’s recital hall where I got caught with not one, but two bottles of champagne enwrapped in my arms last year as my friends and I stomped around to Miley Cyrus? What about in my boyfriend’s cheerless off campus house with his awful roommates skipping around the scene? At the bar in a town where college hangs-outs don’t really exist? Or maybe I should just have my party on my computer, testing out Skype for the first time with my friend who went abroad to Argentina? Does location even matter anymore, or is the night just about getting drunk?

Who should come? My close friends or anyone who somehow decides my birthday is important enough via the joke of a Facebook event they received? Do I invite my 18 year old sister and her boyfriend up for the weekend to witness the madness and hope that I keep my dress down (or up) for the night? What if I just invite myself and call it a day? Spending a 21st birthday alone – now that would be interesting.

Should there be a theme? Perhaps College Trainwreck would be appropriate? Afterall, images of Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears circa 2007 make great inspiration! Or should the theme simply be me making an ass out of myself, as if my last birthday wasn’t enough when I decided wearing hot pink tights with a black tunic that wasn’t long enough to stay down was a good idea?

But seriously, when it comes to the sport of turning 21, what is a girl supposed to do?

Should I run into the closest liquor store and declare that it is my birthday? Should I wear my driver’s license on my sleeve and shout out my birthdate: “02/24/1988” over and over again? Do I wear a plastic tiara and carry in balloons with me just to pick up a bottle of rum or two (or three)?

Do I attempt taking 21 shots? Do I stick to one type of alcohol or jump around until the room spins and I call it a night? Do I invest in a blender to make cocktails, or should I just slap down the money on the bar and tell the bartender to pour me another?

Maybe I should keep it innocent and kick it old-school style. I’m sure I can find some clowns to come make balloon animals and paint butterflies and kittens on my friends’ faces for the same price I may spend on alcohol. Or maybe I could do an assortment of games, including pin the tail on the donkey and balloon races – bubbles and whoopee cushions can replace Jello shots as prizes! I’m sure that would make my mom proud!

I am the first of my friends to turn 21, and I feel that it is my contractual obligation as their friend to start the year off right, birthday-wise. 21 gives the impression of a college milestone, and another passage into adulthood. With so many options and so many high expectations, really … what am I supposed to do?

Now it’s your turn; tell me what you did to celebrate your 21st or how you plan to ring in your own birthday this year. I need ideas, people. Help!



  1. Meg says:

    well my 21st was 2 days after christmas and people are always super busy during holiday time so i was planning a huge scale bar crawl but that wasn't working out & i was depressed. my good friends kidnapped me & i ended up on a random road trip taking in sights/going on a scavenger hunt while a sober friend drove. i drank a mixed drink out of a sippy cup all day (& took shots at bars along the way) and bought random birthday accessories on the way (made my own gangsta chain & found a tiara). we got to the end of our journey at a giant duck and we had birthday cupcakes. After that, I met up with some friends at Dave & Busters, which wasn't really my thing but the drinks are strong (& expensive but on your 21st you pay for nothing) and my guy friends were entertained. I had stressed myself out SO much trying to figure out plans & what to do & how to get everyone to where i live. In the end, i just decided to go with the flow. it was so random but i had a ton of fun.

  2. Ana says:

    being a brazilian girl(legal drinking age 18), moving to the Usa when i was 20 years old and not allowed to drink for 8 months untill i turned 21 was HARD.So for my 21st bday,my mom flew in to spend it with me,my hostfamliy threw me a pool party with lots of booze.the party portion was fun and also 2 day before my bday,so my best friend decided to plan this amazing Nyc night,where we would be drinking at midnight.But since it was a tuesday,we couldnt get into any cool clubs and ended up at a bar drinking beers and talking to cute guys and crying because she was leaving the next day to go back to her country.but it was fun and I laughed a lot.

    My 22nd bday,on the other hand,was CRAAAZY,I got sooo drunk,wore a tiara and drank for free all night long..untill this day I cannot remember what happenned(althought I hv pictures and the next day bruises to remind me).

    Whatever u do,just remember to hv people ta you love around you and jst go with the flow!

    And Happy Bday!

  3. ker says:

    my 21st is the the day before a 7:30am flight to acapulco for spring break.. everyone is gonna be so crazy getting ready or want to save their money for the trip that i'm afraid my birthday may be a bust

  4. nikki says:

    I don't think I've ever really had a good birthday– in fact, many of them have been disastrous. I've never had friends have a party for me or anything. Last year during spring break, one of my "friends" was having a party and I asked if it could kind of double it as a party for me– he agreed but then the news somehow got out to my ex and he insisted on coming. I have issues with my ex (I'm not talking petty stuff), so I decided just not to even go. I am hoping that my friends and boyfriend step up to the plate this year. My birthday is a few days after spring break, so I'm not really getting my hopes up.

    Anyway sorry about my rant, I needed to get that off my chest!

    I hope you have a rockin' 21! I'm sure your friends will make it fun no matter what. You might want to avoid the 21 shots though..

    1. TIMBO says:

      hey theres absolutely nothing stopping you from having another AWESOME party whether its your 22nd or just for some random reason, If your 21st didn't go so well.
      Good luck, enjoy being 21 because it won't last too long. :)

  5. maddie says:

    i don't drink so i don't even know what i will do when i turn 21. this year i spent my birthday alone because i didn't know anyone though. it sucked, don't do that.

  6. d says:

    yeah roanoke's bar scene sucksssss… i live there when im not at school.

    my best friend and i are a day apart birthday wise so for our 21st we are flying out to vegas to party it up! our other best friends will already be 21 so it'll def be a good time. luckily our bdays are in the middle of summer :)

  7. antonina says:

    For my 21st I am having an english tea party, it is awesome and no alcohol… by this point in life that doesn't even seem like the cool part of being 21

  8. Susan Quinn says:

    Don't attempt 21 shots. You don't want to die on your birthday.

    For my birthday I went out to a club for the first time with two of my friends. I wore my little "Just turned 21" crown and a ton of people I didn't know bought me shots. It was a good time.

  9. Matthew says:

    i vote for at the cheerless boyfriends house.

  10. Matthew says:

    if he is a good one then he will fill it with princess cheer

  11. Samantha says:

    My mom paid for a hotel in downtown Nashville for my friends and I to crash in after we hit downtown. My closest friends all got wasted at the hotel then we went and had our "all ages" dinner and laser tag party. After laser tag we hit all of the bars downtown and apparently I spent about half an hour throwing up in the bathroom until they closed and my friends had to carry me back to the room. The girls all crowded into one stall and the boys all cheered for me outside of the bathroom. …I don't remember any of this.

    Good luck! As long as you celebrate with the right people you'll have fun no matter what.

  12. Rebecca says:

    You live in Roanoke?

    You can see Girl Talk! He's coming to Virginia Tech Feb. 26!

    I'm very excited.

  13. AshleySc says:

    In France we can legally drink alcohol at 13, if we're with our parents and at 17, if we're not. Don't worry about H&M, in Paris, black is chic… Le noir, c’est simple, c’est bien

  14. Sabby says:

    Happy Early Birthday! Turning 21 is a BIG deal, but I think it's more about the atmosphere than location. Wherever you end up, wear your prettiest/classiest dress (after all, you're an "adult" now), make sure you have a tiara, and invite your closest friends. Make sure you're with people who will treat you like a princess, and you're ready to go!

    If you can afford it, go on a trip somewhere fun. I did Vegas, but LA, NY, Miami sound fun. If it's still cold, you could go skiing, or you could go down a beach.

    What really matters is that you feel special and have fun, so do what you like with people you love!

  15. jill says:

    roanoke is sooo boring i go to school here too

  16. infaeth says:

    My 21st is tomorrow and im totally clueless!! iv been drinking since God knows when but i stopped drinking when i was 19. Im going to be alone 2moro, and that outa be interesting. i thnk il gve myself a makeover, go shopping alone, buy a cupcake, have a my own photoshoot ( am a photographer) and dance around in my room SOLO!!!

  17. Lauren, University o says:

    I once spent my birthday with a few friends for dinner and then I went and got myself a giant sundae at Coldstone.

    Awesome birthday, for sure.

  18. Julie says:

    take 21 shots…drink only water with it… wont die

  19. Keri J says:

    Looks like we share something…our 21st birthdays are on the same day! My friends have kinda taken over the plans which is how I think things should be. I sorta dropped in some ideas along the way but I am VERY excited about what has come about. I think that you should drink whatever you want, go where ever you will have the best time, and take people that you will have the most fun with. This year we get to celebrate on a Tuesday, so make it a week long event! Do something little on the 24th like dinner, go to a happy hour somewhere on Wed, do whatever is fun to do on a Thursday, and then get Buck Wild on the weekend! I know that 21 is a big deal but don't stress over it since it is suppose to be a happy time. I think it can be a success if you just relax and try to have the best time you can! I hope everything works out!!! Happy Birthday!

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