Turning 21 is a major milestone! It marks the unofficial transition into adulthood and calls for a celebration to remember. While most celebrate their 21st with a night out, nothing beats having a party to keep the celebration going. It’s the perfect way to include everyone in the celebration while having the perfect excuse to throw an extra party. Whether you want a low-key gathering or a blowout celebration, we’ve got you covered with 21 ideas for your 21st birthday party.

Tips For Planning the Perfect 21st Birthday Party

Planning the ultimate 21st birthday celebration can be both fun and overwhelming. To navigate the planning process, consider these tips designed to help you orchestrate a party that’s enjoyable and memorable for you and your guests.

1. Fine-tune Your Guest List

Now is the time to decide who to share this significant milestone with! A well-considered guest list ensures an atmosphere that aligns with your vision for the party. Whether you’re aiming for an intimate gathering or a grand soiree, knowing your guest count early on aids in making informed decisions regarding venue and budget

2. Early Invitations are Key:

Once your guest list is set, send invitations as soon as possible! They not only build anticipation for your party but also increase the likelihood of your guests being able to attend. Utilize digital platforms to make online invitations or create physical invites that match your theme for an added personal touch.

3. Budget Planning:

Establishing a budget from the outset is essential. It helps you allocate funds across various aspects of the party, such as venue, food, and entertainment. Be realistic about what you can afford and look for areas where you can get creative to save costs without compromising the experience.

4. Venue Selection:

The right venue is pivotal in bringing your theme to life! Whether it’s a cozy backyard for a laid-back vibe, a sophisticated lounge for a night of elegance, or a local park for a day of outdoor fun, ensure the space can comfortably accommodate your guests and suit your chosen theme.

5. Engaging Entertainment:

Match your theme with engaging entertainment to keep your guests entertained. This could range from live music or a DJ to interactive games and a photo booth. Entertainment creates memorable moments and keeps the energy high throughout the celebration.

6. Remember the Food & Drinks:

Food and drinks are the heart of any party! Tailor your menu to match your theme, whether elegant hors d’oeuvres for a Hollywood Glamour night or a DIY burger or taco bar for a more laid-back affair. Cater to your guests with a mix of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages since some may not drink alcohol. Don’t forget to include a signature drink to toast to 21 years!

colorful drinks in front of a bartender

21st Birthday Theme Ideas

While themes may not be the first thing that comes to mind for a 21st birthday, they’re the perfect opportunity to honor the birthday person in a special way! Let’s explore some unique theme ideas that can reflect anyone’s personality:

1. Classic Cocktail Party

Set up a chic bar area, complete with a bartender if your budget allows, serving classic drinks like Martinis, Manhattans, and Cosmopolitans. Include a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions for each cocktail to cater to all of your guests.

Planning Tip: Create a menu of signature cocktails and offer a brief mixology demonstration. Arrange for elegant glassware and cocktail garnishes for a classy touch.

2. Casino Night

Transform your venue into a Las Vegas casino with games like blackjack, poker, and roulette. Set the mood with neon lights, flashy decorations, and upbeat music to mimic the excitement of Sin City.

Planning Tip: Rent casino tables and hire professional dealers (or just a knowledgeable friend!) to give your party an authentic feel. Use play money personalized with your face!

3. Vineyard Wine Tasting

Ideal for a future wine enthusiast, this theme can be executed at home or a local vineyard. Turn your living area or backyard into a charming wine cellar decorated with rustic decor and soft, ambient lighting. A large table can be arranged with various red, white, and sparkling wines from different regions for guests to sample.

Planning Tip: Provide a variety of cheeses, fruits, and artisan bread to pair with the selection of wine. Offer personalized tasting cards for guests to rate their favorites.

4. Roaring 20’s

Step back in time to the age of jazz, flappers, and speakeasies with a Gatsby-inspired bash. Think 1920s glamour, vintage accessories, and an abundance of champagne. Set the stage with feathered centerpieces, Art Deco designs, and a DIY photo booth with props like pearls, suspenders, and flapper headbands.

Planning Tip: Encourage guests to embrace Gatsby’s glamour by dressing in period attire, enhancing the 1920s ambiance with gold and black decorations. Jazz music is a must!

roaring 20s party

5. Retro Party (70s, 80s, 90s)

Pick your favorite decade and throw a nostalgia-filled party! Decorate your venue with iconic pieces from your chosen decade, like disco balls from the 1970s, neon signs from the 1980s, or grunge posters from the 1990s. Keep the nostalgic theme by featuring popular drinks and foods from that time. 

Planning Tip: Encourage themed costumes and set up a mini cinema to screen iconic movies or music videos from the decade. Throw in some themed trivia for an interactive experience that’ll surely spark nostalgic conversations.

6. Black and White Ball

Are you looking for a reason to put on an elegant outfit? Throw a classy affair where guests dress in black and white, lending a feel of timeless elegance and simplicity.

Planning Tip: Use black and white décor, from table settings to balloons, and offer a sophisticated meal with menus to match the decorum. Opt for formal invitations to truly set the tone for this high-class affair.

7. Costume Party

Let guests showcase their creativity by dressing as their favorite characters or themes. The possibilities are endless, from superheroes and movie stars to book characters and mythical creatures. Not only is it a fun way to celebrate your 21st, but it also gives everyone a chance to indulge in some fantasy and nostalgia!

Planning Tip: Offer a prize for the best costume and use a photo booth to capture the fun outfits.

Additional Considerations

When throwing a 21st birthday party, some elements are often overlooked in the planning process.

photography at party polaroids

Photography– While relying on smartphones for photos is common nowadays, adding dedicated photography to your party planning elevates the experience. Consider bringing in a professional photographer or creating a photo area like a photo booth where guests can take high-quality photos with fun props. Polaroid or disposable cameras scattered around the venue also offer a fun way for guests to capture the moment!

Party Favors- While many think of favors as something for weddings or kids’ birthday parties, they add a thoughtful touch that can help make your 21st birthday stand out. Personalize items such as custom shot glasses or mini champagne bottles to add a personal flair!

Safety- Safety should never be overlooked! Beyond ensuring responsible drinking, think about arranging transportation options for your guests. These options could involve designated drivers, taxi vouchers, or shared ride codes set up for your event. This foresight ensures everyone enjoys the celebration while being able to get home safely, making your 21st birthday a responsible and unforgettable experience.

Enhance Your 21st Birthday Party with Rentals

You may be surprised with what you can rent for parties! Here are a few rental options that can take your party to the next level:

  1. The Basics: Basics like chairs, tables, glassware, and linens set the foundation for whatever theme you choose, allowing you to enhance your celebration while keeping your guests comfortable in style. 
  2. Catering and Concessions: Elevate your party’s food and drink experience with unique rental options! Opt for rentals that can whip up snow cones, margaritas, or soft-serve ice cream, adding a sweet and refreshing touch to your festivities. Stowaway bars help you serve your featured cocktails with ease. 
  3. Sound and Lighting: Sound and lighting rentals help create the perfect ambiance and keep the party going! You can rent speakers and DJ equipment to add music to any party, while karaoke machines offer a fun, interactive experience that gets people involved. Add visual flair with disco balls, string, bistro, LED, and laser lights to match your theme. 
  4. Tents: Tents provide a perfect solution if you’re planning an outdoor event or looking for a unique way to extend your party space. They offer shelter from inclement weather and create an exclusive atmosphere for your celebration. 
  5. Games and Recreation: Keep guests entertained with various games and recreational activity rentals. Casino games can bring a touch of Vegas to your venue, while outdoor games like dunk tanks, tug of war, cornhole, and horseshoe add a playful element that guests of all ages can enjoy.

Regardless of your chosen theme, your 21st birthday is all about celebrating the journey ahead. With these ideas, your party will be a hit and a cherished memory!

girl in sparkly dress holding a drink at a party


Ready to Start Planning?

When bringing your vision to life, nothing beats the expertise and resources of a dedicated party planning store. Parties to Go, located in Eugene, is your go-to destination for all things party. From initial concepts to the final details, we’re excited to help you craft an unforgettable 21st birthday celebration.

As you dive into party planning, the best advice we can offer is to choose a theme that truly reflects the birthday person’s style, let us help with the logistics, and then kick back and enjoy the party. Celebrating a 21st birthday is a unique milestone—make it spectacular with a little help from your friends at Parties to Go! Contact us today to tap into our party planning expertise for your special occasion.