Top 10 Gifts for a 21st Birthday

by Staff Writer
Published April 29, 2010 | Updated August 4, 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.