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Yes, your 21st birthday is the moment where you can legally drink with friends and family, but it also marks a time where the reality of adulthood sets in and deserves the perfect present to celebrate.
To help celebrate the special day, we researched the best 21st birthday gifts on the market, both alcohol-related and not, considering the thoughtfulness and quality of each. Our favorite picks include a relaxing bath soak from Goop Beauty, a digital photo printer from HP to capture special moments, and a stylish, stainless steel bar tool set from West Elm.
Here, the best 21st birthday gifts to celebrate the transition into adulthood.
Goop Beauty 'The Martini' Detox Bath Soak
The Goop Martini Bath Salts are a great way to turn a cozy night at home into a night on the town. It includes pharmaceutical-grade Epsom salts to relax the muscles of the body. Notes include myrrh, Australian sandalwood, and wild-crafted frankincense, all of which set the mood for the end of the day. It's the perfect way to celebrate the occasion in a relaxing way (or recover after a wild night out).
Called “The Martini” after the traditional name for the last take of the day in filmmaking, the birthday boy or girl simply adds one cup of the salt into warm running water. Soak for about 25 minutes for maximum results and relaxation while reading, meditating, or listening to music.
Users love how this immediately helped them relax and can even be combined with other bath soaks or bombs for a cocktail of products. As with other bath products, it may leave a bit of a film on your bathtub right after use. Be sure to let it harden completely and it should scrub right off.
Dagne Dover Landon Carryall
This beloved travel staple makes any weekend trip a breeze. Featuring a laptop holder, shoe bag, and mesh electronic case, this neoprene weekender is a durable and sleek unisex bag for them to take along on any trip.
Birthdate Co The Birthdate Book
They might be known for their birthday candles, but Birthdate Co. has a personalized astrology book that cannot be ignored. By providing the subject's birth details–we're talking down to the minute–the company will break down every detail of their astrological chart. There are 70+ pages worth of information explaining their personality or favorite activities. This guide is sure to be one of their favorite gifts.
Uncommon Goods Birthday Wish Candle
Arguably, the best part of a birthday is when you make a wish and blow out the candles. Take that moment one step further and allow the recipient to make the magic last all year long. Adorned with crystals like peridot, citrine, rose quartz, aquamarine, this candle has a burn time of 60-80 hours and has a soy wax base with a cotton wick.
HP Sprocket Studio
These days, we do everything on our phones, including taking pictures. That's why a printer that connects to their phone via Bluetooth will empower them to capture every moment without fear of taking up too much phone space. Images printed are four inches by six inches, so they shouldn't have too much trouble finding frames to display their favorite memories in.
Uncommon Goods Classic Literature Rocks Glasses
For some, ending the night with a sip of hard liquor is the perfect way to take the edge off. Make sure they do it in style with these classic literature glasses from Uncommon Goods. From classic tales like James Joyce's Ulysses or Herman Melville's Moby Dick, there is bound to be a story that resonates with them.
Kine Uphorics The Full Kin Kit
Not everyone will want to drink alcohol when they reach the legal drinking age, but that doesn't mean they need to miss out on all the fun. There are plenty of companies out there making ready-to-drink mocktails, and Kin Euphorics was one of the first! The Full Kin Kit includes all four of the company's products, the Kin Spritz and Lightwave eight packs, plus a bottle of Dream Light and High Rhode. These drinks will make anyone feel included at any current or future cocktail parties.
Nowhere Bakery Ultimate Sampler Pack
If cake isn't their dessert of choice, how about a sampler pack of cookies, brownies, blondies, and more? We love Los Angeles company Nowhere Bakery for its vegan and gluten-free baked creations. Founded by entrepreneur Saphira Rasti, these good-for-you desserts will leave you lusting for another bite, well after you've cleared your plate. They often release limited-edition flavors and collaborations, but a variety pack of Nowhere's signature creations is a perfect choice for anyone celebrating their birthday.
Uncommon Goods Himalayan Salt Tequila Glasses
Nothing screams a party more than shots, but why not elevate their next night out with these Himalayan salt shot glasses? Each of the four "glasses" holds 1.2 fluid ounces worth of liquid, but be careful not to leave anything inside of them after you've had your fun, or else the salt will erode over time.
Cuisinart CWC-800CEN Private Reserve ® 8-Bottle Wine Cellar
When you turn 21, the odds of wine stains on the carpet might increase. And, while you can't help that, you can help make sure that the wine you spill is stored at the right temperature. This Cuisinart fridge holds eight bottles of their favorite vintage and keeps them cool in temperatures from 32 to 68 degrees. The best part is the sleek style won't take up much space in their apartment.
Mysa Wine Natural Wine Club Subscription
Mysa Wine's Natural Wine Club is an editor-approved gift you will not regret giving them on their 21st birthday. Monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly, they'll receive expertly selected wines produced from small, artisan winemakers making less than 5,000 cases per year. The best part is the additional personalized producer information, recorded video tastings, food pairing suggestions, and so much more included with each delivery. They'll thank you for years to come for helping them build a fundamental understanding of wine that rivals that of prestigious sommeliers.
West Elm Archer Bar Tools With Stand
Every budding mixologist needs a go-to set of tools to craft cocktails for their best friends. This Archer Bar Tool Set with Stand is not only chic enough to display on a brand new bar cart, but it is just as functional. If you feel obliged to give the matching cocktail shaker, we're sure your giftee won't be upset by it.
Urban Outfitters Zodiac Juice Glass
Don't let the term juice fool you; these astrology glasses are capable of holding more than just your favorite fruit-forward beverage. With a vintage-inspired design, each of these 14.5-ounce cups shows the spirit and main attributes of their zodiac sign in gold lettering. They aren't dishwasher safe, but a quick hand wash is worth it for these unique glasses.
The Coastal Kitchen Easy Cocktails Book
Assuming that your 21-year-old knows nothing about cocktails, gifting them a book on how to concoct the best of the best would make an educational yet exciting gift. Outlined in these pages are over 150 drinks that contain four ingredients or less, meaning they can whip something up on the fly the next time their friends are over. It might not be a dive bar, but it is the first step to having the perfect bar at home.
Connected Goods Recycled Glass Bottle Stopper
We're in full support of anything that involves recycled materials, including these corky bottle stoppers from Connected Goods by Urban Outfitters. Choose from an elephant, giraffe, hippo, or rhino that's hand-blown by artisans out of South Africa. Since each one is individually crafted, you can expect each one to be unique, just like the giftee.
Engravings Etc 21st Birthday Personalized Beer Glass
If you know they will gravitate more towards beer over wine, give them the gift of a personalized beer glass. This one is unique as the shape mimics a traditional beer can but has a label akin to a whiskey bottle. The size is pretty standard at 16 ounces, so you won't have to worry about them having too much in their glass at any given time.
Mejuri Zodiac Necklace
Astrology is something that any 21-year-old is likely familiar with. That's why a 14-carat gold astrological necklace is an exciting gift to receive for a milestone birthday. Female-founded brand Mejuri uses recycled gold and ethically-sourced diamonds to make dainty yet substantial jewelry, perfect for any stylish birthday gal or guy.
Blue Ridge Mountain Co. Custom Wine Glass
If wine is their vice of choice, make sure they have a glass that's a cut above the rest. This stemware holds 12.5 ounces of liquid and is personalized using a precision laser to ensure detail and accuracy. They can toss it in the dishwasher after they've finished a glass of red. Be sure to give them a bottle of wine to help build their palette.
Milk Bar Birthday Cake
Nothing says birthday more than a birthday cake, and with so many companies offering nationwide shipping, giving them the gift of the internet's beloved cake will have them salivating. The classic birthday cake from New York's Milk Bar is reminiscent of the Funfetti Cakes we all devoured as kids. This grown-up version is three tiers of moist vanilla sponge layered between silky buttercream and is adorned with sprinkles. If they don't finish it all on their big night, tell them to freeze it for up to a month.
Maison Margiela Replica Jazz Club Scented Candle
Everyone loves a good candle, but one with a story takes a beautiful scent to another level. Replica candles are inspired by scenes and imagery meant to take you to another world once lit. The Jazz Club candle will transport you to an underground club full of liquor and cigars. Notes of pink pepper, rum absolute, and tobacco make it deep, while subtle vanilla keeps the aroma airy and sweet. It's the perfect mix of traditional masculine and feminine in a single candle.
Label Imprints Personalized Stainless Steel Martini Shaker
We'll have our martinis shaken and not stirred, especially if the giftee is making them in their customized martini shaker. Made from stainless steel, you can personalize this bar cart necessity with engravings on one or both sides. Choose from nine different fonts to fit their style or monogram in five different ways. Whatever you decide to do, this martini shaker is made to last for as long as they are making cocktails.
Uncommon Goods Personalized Whiskey Barrel
Everyone has alcohol they like more than others, so give the whiskey drinker a personalized whiskey barrel to celebrate their 21st birthday. By storing whiskey in this oak barrel, the liquor will take on the subtle notes of vanilla, butter, and coconut. Choose from a two-liter or five-liter barrel and customize the company and distillery name, year established, as well as the city and state.
Craft Beer Kings Staff Pick Gift Box
Not a lot of 21-year-olds know what beverages they prefer. That's why giving them a subscription or a gift set of different alcoholic drinks will help guide them in the right direction. This beer box was hand-selected by the staff of Craft Beer Kings, ensuring that they get some of the best varieties on the market. The only thing you control is the number of cans included (six or twelve, to be exact), and the rest is up to the staff. It's a fun way to help them decipher what type of beer they’ll be drinking during their next game of beer pong.
Tissot Classic Dream Bracelet Watch, 42mm
The idea of giving a watch to celebrate a milestone is a tale as old as time. Since a 21st birthday counts as one of those moments, it's no surprise that an elegant watch like this one Tissot made our list. It has a modern look with vintage details thanks to the quartz face, Roman numeral display, and stainless steel bracelet, making it universally flattering and easy to wear.
Summer Fridays Skincare Regimen Set
Everyone loves skincare, so this set of Summer Friday's best sellers will leave them feeling pampered and fresh as they experience life at 21. Included, they'll find the brand's Amino Acid Cleanser, AHA Exfoliating Solution, and Jet Lag mask, all in travel-friendly sizes. There is even a chic cosmetics bag that they can use well after the products are gone.
What to Look for in a 21st Birthday Gift
Etiquette expert, August Abbott Ph.D., explains that we celebrate birthdays to show how happy we are that someone has entered this world.
A good gift doesn't always have to be a tangible item. Abbott says that as we age we, "really begin to grasp that it's the thought that counts." Maybe you pick up the phone and call, send a card through the mail, or simply give a picture in a frame. The fact that you are simply reaching out can be enough of a gesture for a lot of people. Keep that in mind next time you find yourself wondering what to give.
If It's Alcohol-Related
Listen, 21 doesn't necessarily mean someone is looking to party every night. Many people have no interest in alcohol for personal reasons. That's why it's worth asking what their plans are to celebrate their birthday or if they are comfortable with alcohol-focused gifts. It is always better to ask questions instead of assuming when it comes to finding the right present, no matter what age they are turning.
Sure, a bunch of plastic shot glasses with funny phrases on them will get a laugh, but will they ever be used again? Consider gifting something that's useful and fun, like monogrammed wine glasses or a bar kit. That way, your gift doesn't turn into something they throw away or donate as soon as they're done using it.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Samantha Parsons re-envisioned this article to incorporate 21st birthday gifts that are unique and desirable. She consulted with etiquette expert, Dr. August Abbott of JustAnswer, to ensure that the items recommended are aligned with what is appropriate for this milestone birthday. When she is not spending her time writing for The Spruce, Samantha works for a beauty brand and is constantly searching for the latest product launches and trends.