Meaningful 21st Birthday Ideas

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People often give someone celebrating a 21st birthday an alcohol-related gift because this is the age when it's legal to drink in the U.S. However, many 21-year-olds are also nearing the end of college and preparing to enter the "real world." A gift that is a meaningful reflection of the 21st birthday milestone will make your loved one's special day one to cherish.

DVD Birthday Wishes

  • Create a DVD with your family members and friends for your daughter's 21st birthday. Ask each person to recall a special memory from the guest of honor's childhood or teenage years to let her know that she's loved and appreciated. You can also ask your daughter's grandparents or her older siblings to give her words of wisdom as she enters into adulthood (career advice, guidance in love and relationships). You can end the DVD by wishing your "little girl" a very happy birthday and telling her how proud you are of her.

Timeless Jewelry or Accessories

  • A piece of jewelry that is classic and can be worn for years is a gift that will hold sentimental value for a 21st birthday. Purchase your grandson a pocket watch with a gold or bronze finish, and have his name engraved on the piece. Or give him one of your old pocket watches as a meaningful gift that will signify his entrance into adulthood. Purchase a diamond bracelet for your granddaughter or present her with a cherished jewelry piece of your own such as a brooch or string of pearls that she'll want to wear during future milestones in her life, such as landing her first major job or her wedding ceremony.

Milestone Gift Basket

  • Give a younger sibling or cousin a gift basket that includes a few necessary items for adulthood. For instance, give your sister a gift certificate to a store that sells professional women's clothing so she can start adding business suits, blazers and 2-inch heels to her wardrobe. Include a book in the gift basket that will prepare her for life after college graduation, such as "Happy for No Reason: 7 Steps to Being Happy From the Inside Out" by Marci Shimoff, or "Chicken Soup for the College Soul," which relays funny and inspiring stories about college and setting long-term goals. Include a bottle of wine in the basket that was bottled in the year she was born, along with a wine glass engraved with her initials.

"21" Themed Celebration

  • Throw a party for your son where the number 21 is the theme. Invite 21 of his closest friends or family members, and present him with a plaque or framed poster from all the guests describing 21 things you all love about him. Order a birthday cake in the shape of the number 21, iced in your son's favorite color, and give him 21 gifts, large and small, that will assist him in his adult life, such as a laptop, meditation tapes or a gift card to the local coffee shop.

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