Having a 21st

I have a 21 year old. What happened? As hopelessly cliché as it sounds it’s gone quick and I find it downright weird to think it’s been 21 years since I first became a mummy. ‘Mum’ has become such an integral part of me, it seems odd to think there was ever a time I wasn’t one.

So, what do you do when your first born is 21? For us – we thought a party was in order. One of those parties where young and old party at the same venue…and at home! Was it possible we all wondered to pull that off? At first (like a year ago) the recipient was cold on the idea. Then with a few months away from NZ, there was a change of heart and she thought it might be fun. It means however navigating new territory where we plan a party for her generation and for ours. Tricky possibly.

As I’ve discovered (to my relief somewhat) the 21st crowd is different to the 18th. I’ve not held an 18th birthday party and I confess I might have to be a tad braver to attempt one of those I think. Anyhoo…. as it was reiterated to us rents (parents for those new to that expression) 21 years olds – or this particular crowd at least– are a civilized bunch, having had three years out of school to grow up a bit, so they are there to have fun, not drink you dry.

Given however there’s all us ‘older’ people there in our 40s and 50s, there was perhaps an unspoken concern that we might potentially be a downer for the young’uns if we were a bit serious on it. Nup we said – we’re here to party with our friends too -those good mates that have seen her grow up over the years and could help us celebrate that we survived 21 years of parenthood. When I said that I realised maybe that was as equally worrying as been the boring olds. I ventured that the mate who pulls out the classic sprinkler dance moves on the dance floor was away at his mother in law’s 80th so it was probably a safe bet we would look ok as a group.

In fact it was a great success – young and old partied into the night. We even found music we all liked (it is possible), until noise control asked us to turn it down. That was in the small hours so feet were sore by then anyway. So, to anyone thinking they might not do a 21st at home, I say go on, be brave and give it a go. You might actually ALL like it!


Top tips:

  • Get a DJ – someone has to have control on the playlist, read the audience and have a good musical knowledge to know what will fly with a diverse age range.
  • If you’re up for some pre 21st family and friends bonding time, catering it yourself is actually ok. It was part of the fun coming up with the nibbles menu plan.
  • Make sure you have dedicated bartenders who know what’s on offer, and where it’s stored for restocking, and people to pass round food.
  • Hire stuff you need.
  • Get some old photos or video together as people love to look back – but ok them with the 21 year old first.
  • Keep the speeches short, heartfelt and early on and ensure your 21 year old knows they need to say more than just ‘thanks for coming’. 21 years old means you are a grown up and capable of at least a small effort.
  • Let your 21 year old release their creative self and decorate as they see fit. Our birthday girl did a lovely flower wall.
  • Take photos – how often do you all get together like this? Usually just hatches, matches and dispatches, so take advantage of a happy occasion and get some happy pics.