We all dream of celebrating our 21st birthday in glorious fashion. You’re legal and that’s worth celebrating, even if your celebration leads to waking up on an inflatable raft in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean the next day with the worst hangover known to man. Before you can legally show your ID to reach drunken nirvana, you’ll likely experience your friends’ many different types of 21st birthdays. Come prepared with a hair tie to hold your friend’s hair back and a plastic bag to catch the surprise vomit, these nights will test your limits.
1. The All Night ABC Rager
The typical college student sprinkles his desk calendar with more weekend party dates than important test dates. So when your phone buzzes with the details of a 21st Anything But Clothes birthday this upcoming Friday, you rip off your bedsheets and don them like an extra in Animal House. You gather the essentials for the night and head over to the apartment, only to find out your friends postponed the party until Saturday. Escape by denying ever getting that text and sit awkwardly in the back of an Uber. Hey, at least you’re comfortable.
2. The Private Club Booth Bonanza
What better way to celebrate 21 years of life than by reigning as king of the club all night? You get to sit in comfort as the new 21-year-old pops open a bottle of champagne with all their might, spraying it all over the unlucky bystanders. The regular club-goers glare at you with envy, wanting nothing more than free drinks and a place to relax for just a minute. Enjoy sitting in the lap of luxury, because at the end of the night, you aren’t the one paying the bill. Anyone care for another round of shots?
3. The Awkward Acquaintance Apartment Adventure
You won’t enjoy every party you attend. Before a group project member invited you to his 21st bonanza, your Saturday plans involved watching Forrest Gump and searching for your Tinderella all night, so you concede. Once you reach the apartment, however, you regret not staying home and using all your right swipes. You look around the room to see only five other people, absolutely no drinks and an ongoing game of Uno. “I want to try and pretend that I’m okay and everything will be alright but this is miserable. I’ve had too many free pizza bagels, I’m genuinely scared, and I want to go home,” said Brown University senior Arthur Bory. Stuck in the Twilight Zone of parties, you’re in it for the long haul. On the bright side, you did just pick up two “Draw 4s” cards.
4. The Small Squad Beer and Burgers Night
Every squad features at least one member who hates going out, and that includes his own 21st birthday. Instead, you’ll spend a peaceful evening sharing beers and munching on crispy burgers because John doesn’t know how to properly use a grill. Don’t expect any crazy stories to come out of tonight, but at least you’ll enjoy the presence of your closest friends while celebrating their birth.
5. The Ready, Set, Bar Crawl!
Dive into the world of legal barhopping and get acquainted with local bars on your friends’ 21st. You’ll down every signature drink at one bar before jumping into the back of the Uber and heading to the next one. Turns out you jumped into the wrong car, but these people like your enthusiasm and let you tag along for their bar crawl. When you eventually text the group chat the next morning, they’ll die of laughter as they hear how you ended up joining a random ensemble until 5 a.m. when they finally drop you off at home.
6. The Pre-Game Puke
You decide to go to your friend’s 21st birthday party early and help her get ready. She’s been hyping up the party for weeks, so you put on your bright bodycon dress you only wear on special occasions, snag a Poptart and all your mixers and head over to her apartment. When you arrive, you see your worst fear. Turns out Pre-Gamed-Too-Hard-Patty drank a bit too much vodka, turning her into a human rag doll. You drag the mumbling boulder to the bathroom, hold her hair in one hand and shoot a text to everyone calling the party off with her cellphone in the other. “I just want to get to the party, why are you already passed out in your puke in the bathtub?” said Florida State University junior Olivia Coker. Nothing says “happy birthday” like spending the night staring straight into the toilet.
7. The Parent Trap
When we envision our 21st birthdays, we see a night filled with loud music, every friend on our Facebook page and all the alcohol our near-empty wallets can buy. However, as we plan the big Project X-style party, we get a horrific text from our parents: “Hey, we decided to come up and celebrate your birthday with you.” We freeze in a state of pure panic. “Having to spend your birthday with your parents while in college is like licking envelopes: It sucks. Having to spend your 21st birthday with your parents is like licking a million envelopes,” said Georgia State University senior Andrew Piedra. Do us all a favor and embrace the fact that you won’t be able to decline your parents and go get a beer with them.
8. The House of (Drunk) Horrors
When you mix an open house, a 21st birthday party and a bunch of college kids together, you get a party of epic proportions. Judging by its loud music and plastered party-goers, this party receives an A+ on its report card. People will talk about the events that occurred at this party for months to come, from that one unforgettable beer pong shot to that moment when a llama showed up. Wait, there was a llama?
9. The Unsurprisingly Not Surprising Surprise Party
Surprise birthday parties are lame. To make it worse, your friends force you to sit behind the sofa as everyone giggles and shushes one another. What’s the point of hiding behind a window curtain for 30 minutes?!” said Miami-Dade College senior Kevin Rodriguez. You’ll endure long strenuous minutes as your stomach rumbles, yearning for that awesome four-cheese macaroni dip your roommate made for the party. You finally give up this silly charade and go grab a beer right as the birthday girl walks in, ruining the entire surprise. Everyone’s pissed at you and yelling at you for messing it all up, but you’re the one enjoying an ice-cold beer. As far as you’re concerned this is the best party you’ve ever attended.
10. Your 21st Birthday
The moment finally arrived: your 21st birthday. Descend the stairs into the fray of the party like Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby as everyone chants your name. With a whiskey and coke in one hand and a cigar in the other, the spotlight will follow you all night as people dance the night away. No more holding hair back, saving your friends from drunkenly falling off the bar table; make this your night. “It’s your moment in the spotlight when nobody can stop you from doing as you please. Except when you try to climb onto the roof, then they have to stop you,” said FSU senior Kenny Carril. Enjoy this one kiddo, you’ve gone through hell and back in the first quarter of your existence. Here’s to three quarters more.