Planning A 21st Birthday Party in NYC

By Kristen Vergine,

  Filed under: venues
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21st birthday in nyc

The 21st birthday is the epitome of all birthdays. It’s the last milestone in becoming an independent adult. Not only is turning 21 the final passage into adulthood, it’s really the last birthday anyone actually looks forward to. Planning your upcoming 21st birthday party? You’ve been waiting 21 years for this moment, so you definitely want to go big. As the party host, you want this event to be a party to remember. Make your 21st birthday in NYC the once-in-a-lifetime experience it should be, and check out our guideline of 21st birthday ideas for planning a successful, kickass birthday party in NYC.

1. Pick the Place to Party

To throw the ultimate 21st birthday celebration, you need to find the perfect location. Do you want to go somewhere special like New York City or do you want to hit up the bar on campus? Are you feeling a house party? No matter where you decide to have your party, you want your location to be large enough to hold all of your guests comfortably. In addition, determining the length of your guest list, as well as your budget, will help you determine the type of space that will be just right for your celebration. If you’re not on a tight budget and are looking for stress free planning, consider hiring a venue, which will help you in regards to the arrangement of all of your tables and chairs, tableware, decorations, and sometimes even entertainment and an open bar. Search around for an affordable venue that suits your theme as well as your logistic requirements.

2. Setting the Date & Invitations

The key to any successful event is careful and timely planning. You should begin to plan your party at least two months in advance. Make your arrangements such as catering and venue bookings early on so that you don’t miss out on the ones that catch your eye the most. Once you are set on a day and time, send your invites as soon as possible so that your guests can save the date. This way, you’ll have an exact guest list to give to your either your caterer or your venue so that they can confirm their arrangements for your event to allow everything to run smoothly. If you’re leaning toward a larger party and want to avoid sending personal invites to save money, create a Facebook Event at least 2 weeks ahead of time to spread the word of your party. Try to make it clever and funny because if it’s fun to read, people will assume it’s a fun party. Set your RSVP date about four weeks before your birthday party to give plenty of time for guests to respond. Also, outline the venue, times, date and a contact number clearly, that way nobody has an excuse not to reply or attend.

3. Entertainment

To make sure the celebration is truly a night to remember you’ll need some epic entertainment. Choose a live band that can supply to a wide range of tunes or a DJ with a selection of hits from all different eras so that everyone can let loose and bust a move. Throw in some other entertainment options to keep guests going and having a good time. Maybe consider hiring a mini casino or Karaoke DJ, or reserve a mini bar with an incredible cocktail performer to really wow your guests.


4. Food

Food is the heart and soul of any party. Being able to serve fantastic food is also something that will make your party a success. For 21st birthdays it’s expected that there’s going to be lots of drinking, so try to secure this by having plenty of carb-heavy foods to help absorb the alcohol and provide energy to keep guests lively and ready to boogie all night long. Depending on the location of your party, you can choose the serving style. Are you thinking of a formal sit-down party? Consider a serving style such as a buffet or butler for your celebration. If you are thinking of an informal gathering, try the cocktail style serving.

When choosing your specific menu, your theme will be a key factor when planning what food to serve. Food served at any party should coincide with the theme. For example, if you plan on a Mexican-themed party, you can serve nachos and dips, beer and tequila, etc. The size of your party is also a key when deciding on a menu. They say that size doesn’t matter, but with food it does. After you receive an estimate of attendees, then you can decide the amount of food you want to serve based on your budget. No matter what style, try to provide simple dishes that majority of guests will enjoy. As a host, you really don’t need to worry about being fancy with the food, 21 year olds are really only going to be attracted to the drinks anyway.


5. Transportation

Whether you take the subway, cab or Uber, always make sure there’s a sober designated driver for getting to the party and getting back home. Plan to be ready for the fact that some people will without doubt get too drunk. Try to supply plenty of nonalcoholic drinks such as coffee and water available to sober guests up if needed. Be prepared with details of a local taxi service for getting guests home. If it’s a big party, give the taxi service an advance warning so you don’t end up waiting hours for a cab.


Too much pressure to do it yourself? We’re professional NYC party planners. We are happy to take control and make sure that your 21st birthdays is the best one yet! Book a party. 

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