Top 10 Gifts for a 21st Birthday

by Staff Writer
Published April 29, 2010 | Updated February 13, 2015

A 21st birthday is a milestone that deserves to be celebrated with a remarkable gift. Whether you're shopping for a young man or a young woman, the birthday present you choose should recognize their transition to adulthood. Depending on the personality of the 21-year-old, as well as your relationship with him or her, you can choose a traditional gift or you can get really creative. These birthday gift ideas should help you find the perfect gift.

Gifts for 21-Year-Olds:

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  1. Drinks are on me:

    Welcome the birthday boy or girl to the legal drinking age with a cocktail shaker and bar supplies. A cocktail set can be given alone, with a set of glasses, or with a few bottles of top-shelf liquor to get the party started. For an added touch, include a note with your favorite toast.

  2. Give it a shot:

    If martini shaker is too subtle of a gift, go bold with a flask or a set of shot glasses. Include a drinking game with this gift, and the birthday celebration is sure to be one you'll never forget.

  3. Shine on:

    Jewelry and watches can be given for any milestone, and a 21st birthday is the perfect time to give something a bit more grown up. A classic pearl necklace is a traditional gift for a young woman, and a nice watch is perfect for a young man. If you'd like to give something more unexpected, give a stainless steel ring to a guy and diamond stud earrings to a girl.

  4. Get out:

    A 21st birthday is the perfect time to upgrade sports equipment and camping gear. If the 21-year-old has been using a mismatched set of golf clubs, a hand-me-down tent, or a fishing pole with a worn-out reel, help them out with a gift that lets them indulge in their favorite hobby as well as get outside.

  5. Kid at heart:

    They may be turning into an adult, but they don't always have to act like it. With a new video game system, they can still have a blast hanging out with their friends on the weekends, even while they are finishing college or starting their first job during the week.

  6. Get "carded":

    Who doesn't love the gift of shopping? Gift cards take the guess work out of gift giving, and they can be purchased in a wide variety of amounts, so you can easily do something that fits your budget.

  7. Moving on up:

    If they are living in their first apartment, but the place still looks like a dorm room, help them out with a gift that will upgrade their abode: furniture. A set of bar stools will make a kitchen counter more useful, a nice bed will get the mattress off the floor, and an entertainment center could keep the TV from teetering on top of a cardboard box.

  8. Get connected:

    Treat the birthday celebrator to a tablet or smartphone. Some gadgets just make life easier, and chances are, the 21-year-old you know could use a little help getting organized or just keeping in touch with friends and family. If they haven't used a tablet or smartphone before and you are familiar with the device, be sure to include a list of your favorite apps (and even a gift card to purchase a few) to help them get the most of the gift.

  9. Wine and dine:

    For the sophisticated 21-year-old, give a gourmet food basket. To personalize the gift basket, add a bottle of wine from a local vineyard, or spurge on a celebratory bottle of champagne.

  10. Common scents:

    Fragrances make excellent gifts for people you are close to, and this birthday is a good time to give something that is a step up from what they may have worn in their teens. Look for designer perfumes and colognes to make sure this is a gift that will get a lot of use.