Money is usually a bit tight when a friend or family member's 21st birthday rolls around. Many young men and women are at university or in low-paying, entry-level jobs at this age, and a high-rolling birthday celebration is just out of the question. But with some careful planning and creativity, you can ring in a 21st birthday without breaking the bank.
Introducing someone to local pubs is an appropriate 21st birthday activity. If you're looking to do it cheaply, skip the night clubs and head for local boozers with happy hours and cheap or free activities, such as darts, pool or video games. Many pubs run the best specials during the weekdays, so plan accordingly to save money. If you're in a university town, you may find especially cheap specials as well as a large number of pubs within walking distance of one another. If you're in a city, use public transport or a designated driver, or splash out on a taxi. Cab fare is money well spent, considering the consequences of drink driving.
If you're bent on drinking to celebrate a 21st birthday, a house party is the cheapest way to go. Buy a keg, or go potluck and ask everyone to bring a bottle. Beer, card games, barbecue games and a good mix of music will keep everyone happy. If you're looking for a theme, decorate the location to look like a casino and run a friendly game of blackjack all night -- the number you want to hit is 21.
Hit the clubs
A 21st birthday is an opportunity to check out a local comedy club, exotic dance club, a live-music club or a casino. While casinos can get expensive, a small spend of £15 goes a long way in a slot machine, and a smart poker player can put down £30 and play for hours.
For friends who don't drink, or friends who want to celebrate with younger friends or family members, a 21st birthday is a chance to recapture a bit of childhood. Go to a miniature golf course, arcade or a laser quest arena. Some towns have large entertainment complexes that have all three, in addition to bowling alleys. And for those who drink, some of those places also have bars.
Going out for karaoke is a blast, but it's even more fun on a birthday, when each member of the group can sing one of the birthday girl's favourite songs (or songs they hate, if they can take a joke). Get everyone there early so everyone gets a chance to sing, and have each member of the group dedicate the song to the guest of honour.