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21 lessons for your 21st

Ok so I’ve been absent for a while, and not a great start to the new year – I haven’t even finished my resolutions…but I’ve decided I have until the end of the month for those anyway. There is something more immediate that needs to be discussed: turning 21 and having a 21st birthday party. Right now, all over the world, thousands of people are turning 21 and there are probably parties going on left, right and centre. As someone who is right in the midst of the year of the 21st birthdays among her circle of friends, I feel the need to share some wise words that I was told, picked up as I went along, or learned the hard way.

  1. datePerfect day… It’s going to be difficult; no matter what, you’ll still get people who can’t make it and don’t be over accommodating – it is your birthday after all. But think of the time of year, think of other birthdays that might fall on the same weekend, think of work, holidays, etc. Since I am a Christmas baby, I struggled but used the 29th as a Saturday that was far enough away from both Christmas and New Year.
  2. Don’t you, forget about me… These things do need to be planned in advance so keep in touch with all bases and crowds to keep them posted on happenings; keep your Facebook event page relatively active too.
  3. Living for the weekend…Make sure you’re not working. Not just for the night of the party, which is a given, but for the day of and day after too. Particularly for girls to get things done and get ready at ease, but lads should be relaxing all day too. Don’t forget you’ll need to decorate the venue on the day as well. And your “21st” hangover may not be your 21st hangover but it’ll certainly be one of the top 21 in your life so if it’s going to last all day be sure that you can stay on the couch and out of the office.
  4. Turning tables… A weird one, but be sure to count the tables and corners in the venue. Count the what? I know  this makes no sense now, but when you are standing in front of a party stall looking blankly at a tired sales assistant wondering how many balloons and party poppers you need, the number of corners and tables is suddenly a very valuable number.
  5. decorationsSigned, sealed, delivered… Order your decorations the day before so that you don’t have to wait around for them on the day and you don’t have to take them home where they have to sit there all dressed up and nowhere to go the day before the party. Order the day before, collect them the day of.
  6. Hey, Mr DJ… Sure, he’s a professional. Sure, he can do the job. But does he know how to handle your friends and family. This was one of the lessons I learned on the night. If your mother’s inclined to demand “real music” in the form of ABBA (and we all know how scary our mothers can be when they want to be) make sure you warn the DJ and give him specific instructions if such a situation should occur. Also prepare a detailed list of tracks so that under no circumstances do your best tracks get missed.
  7. Just for you, on my birthday… Of course you’re meant to get presents, it’s your birthday. But unless you organised, paid for and collected everything yourself, you’re going to have to thank Mammy and Daddy for the party and give them a little something. Also based on personal error, if you deemed three out of four members of your family worthy of gifts, include the last one because it will be noted.
  8. Plan to bring gifts home… You will get gifts. A lot of them. And if you’re anywhere other than your own house, you’ll need to take them home somehow. Bring a big black sack or a few smaller bags to carry them home, or at least to the car to avoid making 20 trips from bar to car and from car to door.
  9. giftsDon’t open any presents on the night… As tempting as it may be, they will only get lost, confused and mixed up. Best to keep them all together and then you can have an opening extravaganza in your bed the following morning. Nothing heals the hangover like presents.
  10. Check the gift bags… Make a note in your head of who’s giving you what, make sure it says their name somewhere on a gift bag or an accompanying card. If not, it might be best to scribble something on the wrapping. Not being able to remember who got you something is just embarrassing.
  11. Prepare for the awkward hour… There’s little you can do about it. The party starts at 9pm, no one will be there before 10pm. Change to 8, it’ll be 9 before the room starts to fill. Prepare yourself by assuming the party won’t really kick off for an hour and a half after you say it does, ask a few close friends to arrive early to help out so you’ll have a group of people, however small, and don’t panic. They’ll be there, don’t worry.
  12. drinksDon’t buy drinks for yourself… It’s a slippery slope. Everyone will be buying them for you, you’ll be sorry you bought any and that one drink less won’t do you any harm anyway. It’s your birthday, might as well save a few euro.
  13. Give your camera away… Not permanently, of course. But the last thing you’re going to want to do at your birthday is spend the night taking pictures of other people. Pick a willing, trustworthy candidate (if they exist) to take your camera and document the night. Plus, when you get it back it’s fun looking through pictures for the first time.
  14. Prepare the only thing you can – the gifts… Things like the cake, your presents and now the photography (see no. 15) are out of your hands. The only part you have to worry about is the Mammy and Daddy presents (see no. 7). Ask the venue staff how to best get the gifts up to the party without the parents seeing them, organise transport of said gifts, and most importantly, appoint a friend to go and retrieve them for when you are forced up in front of a microphone to speak. Trust me, they don’t just float up to your hands when you say “it’s time for gifts”.
  15. Mingle… A given of course, but the key is not too little or too much. Don’t get bogged down to the first table you were at. You’re in danger of considering it your seat, or home base. It’s not. It’s your party so the whole room is your home base. But don’t keep saying hi and then telling people you have to go off and mingle. Sit down with people for a while, chat. You have the whole night.
  16. Introduce people… All your friends are there. Your work friends, your college friends, your school friends, your home friends, all in one room. Make sure they get to know each other so the room isn’t split into factions. Especially if some groups are smaller.
  17. Get up and dance… I know you don’t want to be first. And maybe in a perfect world you wouldn’t have to. But at your own birthday, you’re the only one who is going to get the dance floor going.
  18. Make sure you eat… No matter how much you try to pace yourself, you will be drinking a lot. Try to break it up with food. Pay particular attention because with all the natural instinct to make sure everyone gets food, you might get left out.
  19. speechHave something to say… They will make you stand up. They will give you a microphone. They will make you talk. So you better have something good to say – no rambling. However, at that stage they will also probably cheer at anything you say so don’t stress too much.
  20. 21 kisses… Try as you might, you will not avoid it. You will be plonked on a chair and made do it. Most importantly, keep track of the numbers and if you have someone in particular you want to be number 21, make sure they’re ready to go from no. 18.
  21. Let them eat cake… Of course there will be one, it will be lovely. And someone will present it to you to blow out the candles. But after that make sure you cut it and offer it around because you’re hardly going to take the whole thing home? Mine was forgotten about and we literally took the whole cake home. Equally, don’t cut up the whole cake and then end up begging people to take one of five slices off your hands.

cake

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2 thoughts on “21 lessons for your 21st

  1. Pingback: Missed the Party « thehuntformrrightnow

  2. Pingback: Very Inspiring Blogger Award | Pretty Purple Polka Dots

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