Cheap 21st Birthday Ideas

Celebrate a friend's 21st birthday with a first, official drink.
Celebrate a friend's 21st birthday with a first, official drink. (Image: margarita image by Christopher Meder from

When people are in their early 20s, they are often earning meager entry-level salaries or working only part-time, if at all, while in college. If you have a friend turning 21, you probably want to get him something special for his birthday; however, you may not have the cash to splurge on an expensive gift. Fortunately, there are many inexpensive birthday ideas that your friend will appreciate on his birthday.

Personal Breathalyzer

For the first time in her life, your friend will be able to drink legally. And if she tends to overdo it when it comes to alcohol, she may appreciate a personal breathalyzer that she can hook onto her keyring or keep in her purse or glove box. These devices typically cost no more than $20. With a personal breathalyzer, she can check her blood alcohol level before getting behind the wheel, and call a taxi if necessary. Take the gift out for a test drive by taking your friend to an upscale bar or restaurant for a martini.

Margarita or Wine Glasses

People in their early 20s often have a mishmash of hand-me-down housewares. Help your friend get established by getting him something to entertain with in grown-up style. Get him a nice set of margarita or wine glasses for when he has friends or a date over. And this gift won't break the bank; you can find sets on sale at home-good, discount and department stores.

Surprise Party

If your friend or significant other prefers a good party to a nice gift, throw her a party on the cheap by getting friends to help make food and decorations. Download a cake recipe from the web and bake her a personalized cake. Make a large batch of sangria or another popular drink—just make sure everyone attending is over the legal drinking age or that any minors are not drinking.

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