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21st Birthday Present and Party Ideas for Him and Her/Boys and Girls

Happy young woman celebrating birthday with her friends at home, they sitting at dining table with birthday cake

Your ideal 21st birthday should be one for the books, something that you will want to remember for the rest of your life. Whether you are in a country that celebrates this occasion with your first legal drink, acknowledges you as a fully-fledged adult, or thinks it is just a really good excuse for a big party, a 21st birthday should be as special as you can make it.

For some birthday boys and girls that might mean an epic present, while for others it could be an incredible experience or activity. Here we will take a look at a few ideas for gifts to give your friends, family members or significant other for their 21st, and some suggestions for how to spend that oh so special evening as well.

How to pick the perfect 21st Birthday Present?

When it comes to selecting the perfect present, there is no one size fits all. Some 21-year-olds may love nothing more than to head out into the great outdoors, while others may prefer staying in their room with a great new game. One may like physical gifts to open and another would choose an activity or experience as their ideal present.

The true key to finding the perfect present is to take a moment to really think about your 21-year-old’s likes and dislikes, dreams and nightmares, and then when you have a rough idea in mind, check out some of these suggestions to see if one of them will fit.


21st Birthday Present Ideas for a boy/young man

Buying for a guy can be tricky, especially if they don’t have a clearly carved-out favourite activity, sport, film or band. If you know that your soon to be 21-year-old is a huge fan of Star Wars or the Australia Open this can give you a fantastic starting point to find the perfect gift. For others, they may be less upfront with their likes and you may have to get a little more creative.

Here are a few top gift ideas to help inspire you to find the ideal present for a 21-year-old man this year:


Sports equipment

If your brother, son, boyfriend or friend is a fan of sports this can be a great place to start when thinking about their 21st birthday gift. A new surfboard, snowboard, tennis racket and so on can be a fantastic present, especially when paired with a day out engaging in their favourite sport together. You can incorporate your present into a fun activity for your whole family, group of friends or just the two of you to create fabulous new memories together.


Personalised items

Some people might think going for a wristwatch, ring or suchlike can be a little too traditional a present, but by adding a meaningful engraving or inscription, you can give your 21-year-old a gift that they will treasure forever.

You can also opt to get a briefcase, backpack or sports jersey with their name on it instead, it really does depend on the kind of 21-year-old that you are buying for.


Activities and experiences

One great way to ensure that your gift goes down well and won’t soon be forgotten is to pick an experience that will be remembered long after 21 has become 22 and so on. This could be tickets to see a band, an hour driving a car around a race track or even a bungee jump if that is what the birthday boy has always wanted.


Take a trip

If you are looking for a 21st present for your partner, family member or friend, booking him a trip can make a truly excellent gift. There are all sorts of levels and options, and only you know what your 21 year old will like best from a weekend of camping, a city break or even that once in a lifetime trip to Europe you always talked about.

21st Birthday Present Ideas for a girl/young woman

Similarly, to young men, what will please one 21-year-old woman and send her over the moon could well be another’s absolute worst idea of a present, so don’t just jump in with what you think is an expected present. Really think about what they might like and see if any of our ideas here can inspire you to find the perfect present today:


Something with history

One of the best and most meaningful presents you can receive for your 21st is something that has been in the family a while, or reflects back some aspect of your youth. A photo album or product made with a treasured picture such as a mug, calendar and so on can be a great place to start.

If you have a particular piece of jewellery that you have been wanting to give your daughter, or a childhood book that you think they will cherish, this can be the ideal time to give it to her. These gifts can often mean more to some 21-year-olds than something that cost an arm and a leg.



In the same vein, if you are thinking of getting jewellery for your 21-year-old’s birthday you may prefer to go with something that they can add to and keep forever like a charm bracelet, or incorporate a picture in a locket.

Some 21-year-olds will undoubtedly be thrilled by something that glitters and shines, but others may value something engraved or unique a lot more.


Go with a known theme

If the soon to be 21-year-old has openly expressed a desire to receive more gifts along a certain theme, this can be a fantastic place to start your gift planning. Some women may collect certain editions of books such as Penguin’s clothbound classics, while others adore Harry Potter memorabilia and still others collect Lego sets.

If they truly are passionate about something, getting a young woman a gift in that style shows that you were listening and that you care.


Go with an experience

There are so many wonderful gifts you can get a young woman that involves a new or favourite experience, from outdoor activities to tickets to see their number one singer or even an escape room or roleplaying game.

Sisters Grimm murder mystery games offer a huge selection of themes and group sizes, so your 21-year-old could get to play a role as a character in a manor house in the 1930s with the whole family or relive top 00s high school movies solving a murder in the high school cafeteria.

Often the best gift is one that gets you out or staying in with the people you love the most doing something that you will all enjoy. Whether that is go-karting or paintball, ice-skating or sky diving, if you choose a special experience your 21-year-old will get to remember that present for the rest of their lives, long after the cocktails are drunk and the jewellery has been misplaced.


How to plan the perfect 21st Birthday Party?

Whether you are looking to ring in 21 with a glamourous and elegant affair, go for group activities or keep it low key, the perfect 21st party generally requires a few key components:

  • The right theme/type of party for the birthday boy or girl
  • The right people (by Zoom if not in person!)
  • The right food and drink!

Some 21-year-olds may have a whole host of plans and components that they would love to be a part of their big day. You could opt for a big party with a chocolate fountain, fancy dress and a DJ, head out for a slap-up meal or set up your own tea party in the garden. You could even spend the whole day playing video games or racing around a go-kart track.

The details are up to you, but here are a few theme suggestions and ideas to help get you started planning the perfect birthday party for your 21 year old this year.

Group of cheerful young friends having fun at birthday party, birthday girl receiving and opening presents

21st Birthday Party Ideas for a boy/young man

One of the most popular ways for people to ring in their 21st birthday is with a trip to the pub, or even several pubs. While this can indeed be lots of fun there are lots of other ways you can celebrate this milestone, and here are a few of our favourites to get you started:


Card game night

A really fun way to celebrate 21 is with a few rounds of cards – specifically the game 21, or Blackjack, with a few friends. While you can go and play in a casino, setting up a few tables at home can work just as well, and if Blackjack isn’t for you then Poker works just as well if not better.

You can make a whole night around cards for the 21-year-old who enjoys a game, with themed cocktails, nibbles, and even a poker themed murder mystery game to play alongside the cards themselves.


Fancy dress party

Costume parties have been one of the top ways to celebrate birthdays for centuries, and your 21st is no exception. You can pick any theme you like, with some popular ones including the year 1921, outfits celebrating moments from your life or the year of your birth.

You could ask people to dress up as characters and celebrities that share your first name or birthday, opt for your favourite movie and so much more. Picking a fancy dress theme can instantly help you to plan the rest of your party, with themed food and drink, music and games.


Activity-based parties

Much like with presents, you can incorporate an activity into your 21st party ideas to structure the event around. You can have a paintball party, go-karting and then finish with a themed cake or even pour around something fizzy – it is entirely up to you. Some people love to go out and do things on their birthday while others prefer to chill, so have a think what your soon to be 21-year-old would most like.



So many people love to enjoy a good BBQ, eating tasty and easy food, gathering around a fire and celebrating outside. You could organise a party on the beach (if it is allowed and safe) or in your back garden, and there are so many games that you can play with ease outdoors.

21st Birthday Party Ideas for a girl/young woman

Plenty of women would also love many of the themes that are suggested above, and there really is no end to the options available for a 21st birthday party. Your 21-year-old may wish to incorporate several of these ideas at once or use one of them to inspire a completely different style of party, so here are a few suggestions to help narrow it down:


Arrange a tea party

So many young women would love a Mad Hatter’s tea party, while others may prefer something more akin to a Bridgerton-style event. If it is nice weather sitting out in a garden drinking tea or cocktails from tea pots and eating cakes and sandwiches can make for a truly unforgettable 21st birthday.


Choose a theme

Again there are endless options for dressing up and organising your party. You could choose 1921 and get out your flapper dresses and braces or choose a masquerade and add some mystery to your evening.


Do some Karaoke

Ideal for girls and boys alike, karaoke is a popular choice for 21st birthdays whether you rent out a private booth or room or just get out the microphone at home. If this is not your 21-year-old’s idea of fun, definitely don’t make it a part of their birthday, but a lot of people are happy to get up and have some fun at an event like this.


Add in some games

There are lots of wonderful ways you can have so much fun on your 21st including a treasure hunt, murder mystery game or a throwback to decades past with Twister and so on.

You could choose a series of activities and award prizes or give penalties for those that come last or don’t win depending on what you prefer. You’d be amazed how much fun you can have joining in a sack race or enacting certain Wii games in real life!


Final thoughts

If you are already older than 21, you may remember (or not remember) how your own 21st birthday went and which aspects you would keep or change. For most people, spending time with the people you love and enjoying delicious food and drinks while soaking up the experience is what it is all about, so don’t stress too much if you are struggling for the perfect gift or party idea.

Hopefully, some of the suggestions here have inspired you to think about what it is your soon to be 21-year-old might want out of their party and their big day, and at least got you started down the path towards finding what they might like for their ideal 21st.

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