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Preparing for your 21st birthday party

Turning 21? Your 21st birthday will happen only once and should be treated as an important celebration of your transition into adulthood. Although alcoholic beverages tend to be the main theme of 21st birthday parties in America, spending some time constructing a basic outline of how you'd like the night to go can help make your birthday the most memorable of your life.

Whether you're planning on going to a bar, a dance club or a party, you should be sure to start off the celebration by gathering friends and relatives at someplace special for a substantial birthday meal. Eating beforehand will help you kick the night off right and will give those closest to you a chance to shower you with cake and gifts before your entourage heads out for the evening.

If you're one of the first in your crew to turn 21, a night out at the bar with only one or two friends may be less than ideal and you'll likely want to plan for a more elaborate event that anyone can attend. Hosting a kid-themed birthday bash (complete with childhood board games, birthday hats and piñatas and perhaps even a bouncy castle) at home is a fun way to welcome adult life. Throwing a summertime birthday barbecue is another great way to include friends and family in your celebrations and assigning each guest to bring a different main dish, salad or dessert makes preparation for this type of casual event easy. If you have a special interest or hobby, hosting a party that incorporates your favorite pastime is a surefire way to enjoy the birthday experience with decorations available to transform living rooms or backyards into elaborately decorated venues with popular themes like beach party, poker night and 'roaring '20s.

When going out, arranging transportation (a reliable designated driver, a limo service or taxi) before the big day will go a long way in ensuring a safe and successful party experience. Handing out personalized disposable cameras to members of your inner group will give everyone an opportunity to snap photographs and is a fun way to document your entire birthday night from several different viewpoints.