The significance of the 21st birthday
Many people in the United States hold their 21st birthday in very high regard. Turning 21 means that a person is an adult, at least in the United States. They can buy liquor, drink legally, and are socially considered to be no longer dependent on their parents.
Therefore, the 21st birthday is one that many teenagers look forward to, and many celebrate with enthusiasm.
The biggest significance of the 21st birthday is that it is the moment where someone turns into an adult. Although the legal adult age in the United States is 18, the drinking age is 21, which many people equate with becoming and adult. There are many bars, casinos, and other venues that don't allow people into them until they reach 21. The last things that are "off limits" to underage people become available on your first day as a 21 year old.
The biggest reason that the 21st birthday is so significant in the United States is that this is the age where it is legal to drink and to purchase alcohol. Even if people don't drink often, or don't like to drink, they aren't allowed to go into establishments like bars, casinos, and clubs where drinking occurs, until they are 21. This means that a person can officially go into any establishment, even those that sell adult items, when they turn 21. This leads to an idea that becoming 21 is actually becoming an adult, although people may get married, join the army, smoke, and purchase adult magazines when they turn 18. Also, the age of 21 is widely considered to be the age where you are no longer dependant on your parents. Many insurance companies won't cover you after age of 21 unless you are in school.
What To Do
Because for many people the significance in turning 21 is that they are of legal drinking age, many choose to go out to bars, clubs, casinos, or other venues for their 21st birthday. Some people who don't drink even want to go to these places once they turn 21 because they have never been allowed before, and want to be able to experience them. For someone who enjoys a drink now and then, and who enjoys being out in a crowd, going to those previously off limits places is a way to celebrate. For a homebody who doesn't like the crowd or club scene, a 21st birthday might be no different from any other, and should be celebrated in the way that they would most enjoy.
Considerations for Celebrations
As long as you know a 21-year-old would enjoy going out to celebrate, by all means plan that exciting night out on the town. However, keep in mind that some people don't enjoy drinking, even once they are legal to do so. Also, keep in mind that a 21-year-old might have several friends who aren't legal. Therefore, the best type of party would be one that starts or ends somewhere everyone can enjoy it, like a house party. As the evening rolls on, those who are of age can take the newly 21-year-old out to the bar for a celebratory drink, and they can return to the party where the others can also enjoy the birthday.
Gifts for the 21st Birthday
Many friends consider taking someone out for their 21st birthday and buying their drinks to be a worthwhile gift. You might want to celebrate the occasion by buying the birthday boy his own set of beer mugs, or the birthday girl her own shot glasses. Other fun gifts include personalised wine bottles, flasks or pub signs.