21 Things Not To Do On Your 21st Birthday

21 Things Not To Do On Your 21st Birthday

I turned twenty-one just two weeks ago, which was a massive milestone for me personally, and even bigger for my liver. It took me two weeks to finally sit down and write this, because that’s how long my hangover lasted. My birthday was one of the drunkest, most fun, most epic nights of my life, but I did make a few mistakes. This birthday only happens once, so here are a few things to avoid so you can make the most of it.

  1. Don’t go out the week before your 21st.
    It’s going to be hard, especially when your trusty fake ID is there waiting for you to take it out and play, but your actual birthday won’t be as special. It’s kind of like the old tradition of not sleeping with your fiancé the night before your wedding, even though you’ve already done it a million times.
  2. Don’t spend so long getting ready that you miss the pregame.
    Give yourself two hours to get ready, even if you don’t think you’ll need it, because this is the one day of the year everyone pays attention to you so you better look damn good.
  3. Don’t drink too much at the pregame.
    Two words: birthday shots. Depending on how many bars you actually make it to, you’re going to want to be somewhat coherent before the clock strikes midnight.
  4. Don’t black out before midnight.
    This is similar to my previous point, but it’s so important I had to mention it twice. Turning 21 is a marathon, not a sprint. For the love of God, if you’re going to try and take 21 shots, at least wait until you’ve actually enjoyed being 21 for a little while.
  5. Don’t take 21 shots.
    Just trust me. You can’t do it. Even if you can do it, you don’t want to.
  6. Don’t lose your stuff.
    Designate one (somewhat) sober friend to be your purses’ babysitter. Leave your phone and ID with her, and tell her to take tons of pictures. Tonight, your only responsibility is getting drunk. You don’t want to be that girl who loses her ID the night of her 21st and can’t drink until she replaces it.
  7. Don’t forget to eat before you go out.
    You’re going to need protein and, yes, carbs, to last all (or most of) the night.
  8. Don’t expect to be the only drunk one.
    If your friends are anything like mine, they can’t resist a good reason to drink. They’ll be taking every shot with you, convincing bartenders to give you permission to dance on the bar, and talking random guys into buying you drinks for your birthday. Considering the motto for your friendship is “If you’re a hot mess, I’m a hot mess,” expect your friends to be just as drunk as you are, which can lead to trouble. But if they try and steal your spotlight, put those drunk bitches back in their place. This is YOUR day.
  9. Don’t go to the same bars you used to sneak into with your fake ID.
    What’s the point in going somewhere you’ve already been a million times? Have some adventure. You spent the past three years dying to see the inside of that bar where you could never get in. Go there.
  10. Don’t act like a total diva.
    Yes, it’s your birthday and therefore the one day of the year that everyone should bow down to you, but pissing off everyone by screaming “I’M 21!!” every time you take a shot…actually, who gives a shit, it’s your birthday and you should be allowed to do whatever you want.
  11. Don’t go up to a police officer and scream “I’M 21!”
    They’ll check your ID, congratulate you, but also threaten to arrest you with public intoxication if you don’t stop screaming “I’M 21!” I may or may not have learned this from personal experience.
  12. Don’t invite your casual hookup out to celebrate, unless he’s up for dealing with you for the rest of the night.
    A boyfriend might overlook you getting puke in your hair, but I wouldn’t subject a casual hookup to that if you’re still trying to impress him.
  13. Don’t buy a damn thing.
    You shouldn’t be paying for a single drink on your birthday, or the pizza you drunkenly ingest at 2am.
  14. Don’t wear new shoes.
    A bad blister can ruin everything. Reduce the amount of stumbling and the inevitable removal of shoes by going with your trusty going out shoes.
  15. Don’t go out with your underage friends.
    It’s honestly just a buzz kill. There’s nothing worse than turning 21 and not being able to go to a new bar because your little can’t get in. Leave the little at home, go out with your big and friends that are already of age, and invite all the young ones to celebrate with dinner instead. When she turns 21, she’ll understand.
  16. Don’t expect to remember what happens.
    It doesn’t matter how high you think your tolerance is, everyone has their limit, and believe me when I say you will greatly surpass it.
  17. Don’t feel guilty about it the next day.
    Turning twenty one is your one free pass to be a drunken fool and no one can say anything about it. Take advantage of the opportunity, because it won’t happen again until your bachelorette party.
  18. Don’t forget to prep your nightstand with the essentials.
    A bottle of water, Advil, phone charger, and trashcan so you can be fully prepared for the hangover the next day.
  19. Don’t make plans for your actual birthday until at least noon.
    You’ll still be hungover at noon but you’ll be somewhat functioning again and hungry. Thank me later.
  20. DO go to Vegas. Don’t buy a returning flight for 7am, even if it’s the cheapest one.
    Going to Vegas the weekend after I turned twenty one was definitely the highlight of my birthday, but in my naïve mind, I thought a 7am flight would be fine since I would probably be drunk. I was drunk, but it was definitely not fine. I give my sincerest apologies to the Las Vegas airport, the trashcan at Gate 3C, and the mother of two who was forced to sit next to me since it was a full flight, because I looked like this the entire time:
  21. Don’t just celebrate once.
    You get a birthday weekend for this momentous occasion, not just one day. Have fun and do it all again the next day.

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Cristina Montemayor

Cristina is a Grandex Writer and Content Manager. She was an intern for over two years before she graduated a semester early to write about college full time, which makes absolutely no sense. She regretfully considers herself a Carrie, but is first and foremost a Rory. She tends to draw strong reactions from people. They are occasionally positive. You can find her in a bar as you're bending down to tie your shoes, drinking Dos XX and drunk crying to Elton John. Email her: (not .com).

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