Even though it was back in the stone age, I remember my 21st birthday like it was yesterday. (Shocking, I know.)
I also remember the 21st birthday gifts I received because they stole the show right out from under the thrill of being carded when ordering a special birthday margarita. Partly because, disappointingly, our server didn’t bother to card me, and partly because the gifts were terrific.
Ever on the lookout for gifts that’ll make you a rock star – we found some great 21st birthday gifts to match (or surpass!) the awesomeness of mine.
Check our gift guide out!
21st Birthday Gifts They’ll Love
Personalized 21st Birthday Gifts – Don’t worry, they’re not all booze-related!
1. The Book of Everyone
This unique 21st birthday gift idea is the best. What could be more meaningful than a personalized book containing pictures, written messages from the people you love, and factoids about what was going on in the world when you were born? The lucky 21-year-old in your life will shed a tear or two thumbing through the memories, guaranteed. Just make sure you’re filming.
2. Custom Booze Vessels
What’s the very first drink you had after you turned 21? It’s OK. I don’t really remember either. But if the glass that it’s served in features personalized birthday well-wishes and the name of the birthday girl (or boy), that first drink becomes much more memorable.
Choose between four fonts on a wine glass, beer glass, champagne flute, or shot glass. There are flasks too, but we don’t condone sneaking booze into places like football games, do we? Of course not. But the flask does come in pink or black. In case you were wondering.
3. Beer and Wine Labels
If the 21-year-old of the hour is a wine fan, why not help the birthday guy or birthday girl stock up while making them laugh on their birthday with custom wine bottle labels? There are six labels with hilarious birthday anecdotes like: “Candles aren’t the only things getting lit tonight.” and “I make pour decisions.” Prepare to splurge on six bottles of wine – because you’ll want to give them every single label.
What if they’re more of a beer person? Not to worry! There are labels for cold and frosty beverages, too. Just don’t forget the bottle opener!
4. Personalized Candle
A candle is always a perfect gift, but a personalized candle with a special message from you is much better. Include their name, your message, and their birth year. That’s the year 2000 as of this posts’ publication. Let that sink in for a sec.
The hand-poured soy wax candle comes in twelve indulgent scents, from spicy to floral to citrus. You can upgrade to a gift box featuring a candle and English rose and white geranium bath salts if you want to give a little something extra.
5. Monogram Playing Cards
On the game thread, why not help them stock the game closet in style? This colorfully monogrammed double set of playing cards in an acrylic case with a round monogram. It comes with two personalized decks of cards. Adulting on game night – very impressive.
6. Birth Stone & Initial Necklace
A personalized necklace is such a meaningful gift, and our guess is, this one will end up as her everyday signature piece. It comes in silver or yellow gold in 16″ or 18″ lengths and features a round disc pendant with her initial engraved in a feminine font. It also features a Swarovski crystal birthstone pendant for a pop of sparkly color.
7. Personalized AirPods
No more cheap earbuds! When you turn 21, it’s time for a sophisticated option, and nothing’s quite as sophisticated as a set of AirPods.
Active noise cancellation blocks out the world, and transparency mode lets you hear what’s going on out there (handy for biking or walking when you need to dodge traffic). They’re also customizable when you have them engraved with emoji, text, or numbers meaningful to the birthday boy or birthday girl.
8. Photo Collage
Great art is personal. Nothing is more personal than a collection of photos of special moments with family and friends, so why not combine the two to make something beautiful? Upload 24 meaningful snapshots to Minted’s site, and they’ll create a piece of collage art for your favorite 21-year-old to hang proudly.
Choose between six sizes, with twelve classic and specialty moulding options. Select at checkout whether you’d like it framed or unframed.
9. Birth Year Sweatshirt
We really like the simple design of this birth year sweatshirt; it reminds us of a collegiate pennant or letterman jacket. While some of us would rather not display our birth year for all to see, when you’re 21, it’s all good and makes a great gift. The cotton/poly blend is super snuggly, great for chilly weather or all-day pajama days. It runs in men’s sizes Small to 3XL, with eight classic colors to choose from.
10. Men’s Leather Dopp Kit
A Dopp kit is essential for the world travelin’ man, and we happen to think this one is especially nice. It comes in black, chocolate, or espresso pebbled full-grain leather and features an easy-to-clean nylon interior. Have it monogrammed in gold foil for an extra fancy touch.
11. Women’s Travel Organizer
For the lady who seeks adventure, this organizer is a more feminine (and organized!) version of a traditional Dopp kit. She can keep makeup, toiletries, or whatever she needs to stay prepared in the top zippered compartment. The bottom compartment unzips to reveal a jewelry holder/organizer. Genius, right? We thought so.
It’s made from vegan leather, with an easy-to-clean nylon interior. It comes in seven colors and patterns, and like the Dopp kit, it’s monogrammable, making it a special and unique gift to mark the special occasion.
12. Potted Plant Baby
by The Sill
The time for responsibility is at hand, and a potted plant baby is a great way to ease them into the challenges of parenthood. You can give one plant or give a subscription, so they’ll receive a new plant each month.
The Still has a care library with instructions for each plant, and they offer monthly workshops, too. And for those born without green thumbs, they offer free assistance from a plant specialist at any time. Every plant is guaranteed to arrive healthy – let’s see if they can keep it that way.
13. Retro Candy Gift Box
You’re never too old for candy, and we dare anyone to say otherwise. But this isn’t any ordinary old candy; it’s hand-picked to include 61 pieces of candy that your 21-year-old probably remembers from his or her childhood. And now that they’re a grownup, they can eat the WHOLE thing to mark the special occasion if they want to.
14. What Do You Meme? Party Game
In our opinion, every adult should stock their coat closet with an array of fun party games. Not only are they fun, but it’s a surefire way to rescue a social gathering headed south. Prepare them for that possibility with the “What Do You Meme?” game! The object is to impress the judge with the funniest, most clever memes by matching one of your caption cards with the dealt photo card.
This is the starter pack, but there are plenty of expansion packs to keep the party raging. The game is meant for big kids aged 17+ because it’s delightfully inappropriate. For maximum fun, play with at least three players.
15. Mini Projector
“Netflix and chill” is about to get much better looking. (The movie is, anyway.)
A small portable projector is a perfect way for your young adult to watch their fave shows and movies wherever they want, streaming from their smartphone or tablet. The APEMAN Native 1080P Portable Video Home Projector has an intelligent design and upgraded tech features for 2021, all in a tiny 2 lb. package. It contains built-in dual stereo speakers that sound great alone or connect with an external system to put those dramatic explosions front and center.
16. Legacy Watch
Anytime you can swing a gift for someone you know they’d love but is an indulgence they’d never buy themselves, it’s a keeper. We picked one masculine style and one feminine style here, but there are no hard-and-fast gender rules. Twenty-one is a milestone birthday, so get them a milestone-worthy gift!
We loved the Tissot because it’s a unique take on a classic men’s wristwatch. The face design is so masculine, and the peek-a-boo window shows off its’ intricate inner workings. With that shiny link bracelet band, it’s definitely fancy-suit-worthy.
The Movado is all things glitter and glam. It would complement any little black dress on date night, and its’ face is simple but dramatic all at once. It’s sure to take her breath away when she opens the box. Prepare for incoming hugs.
17. Big Tin Full o’ Popcorn or Chocolates
If you’re saying happy birthday from afar, an edible gift is always a good option. Whether your newly-turned-21-year-old prefers savory or sweet, you’re covered. Give them a butter, cheese, and caramel popcorn bucket from Simply Chocolate in a cool retro tin, or opt for a bucket of bark in a variety of gourmet flavors.
18. Experience Package
Give the gift of adventure! Everyone knows that even though it’s fantastic to receive things, they don’t last forever. Give a gift box with an experience package tailored to a 21st birthday celebration, bucket list items, exciting getaways, and much more. No matter what they’re into, there’s something they’ll totally want to do here.
19. Coffee & Cookie Subscription Box
by Match Made
For a relaxing Saturday morning, what’s better than reeealllly good coffee and gourmet cookies specifically chosen to pair with the roast? Nothing. (Except for puppies. But we don’t have those on our list.)
Each month, they’ll receive 4 oz. of internationally sourced craft coffee and two *generously* sized cookies to dunk.
20. Instant Camera
In a time of endless phone selfies, the instant camera is here to remind us why it pays to snap and print Polaroid style. Nothing’s more fun than hanging out with friends and snapping candid photos, and with this camera, you can print them out right then and there. Not only is it a much better way to share pics, we thought it would also be a pretty decent deterrent to blackmail photos.
21. Amazon Gift Card
“Oh jeez, ANOTHER gift card?? I hate those!” Said no one, ever. If trying to choose a birthday present makes your head a little fuzzy, you can never go wrong with a gift card. And seeing as Amazon’s website is like Mary Poppins’s carpetbag, you don’t have to worry if they’ll find something they love.
One of my 21st birthday gifts was dinner out with my parents and a close group of friends at a fancy-pants restaurant. Then dancing and drunken revelry at a nearby club. Alas, the drunken revelry didn’t happen due to circumstances beyond my control.
But that’s a story for another time: life lessons, people.
Anyhoo, I hope your 21-year-old is ready to get out there, live it up on their 21st birthday, and throw down some adventures of their own for this momentous occasion! There’s no better time to live a little. Mainly because you’re still nimble enough to scale fences with minimal injury.
Yup, a story for another time, too.
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