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These Experience Gifts Are Perfect For Your Best Friend’s 21st Birthday

The best things in life are free… almost. If your best friend is a firm believer in memories over money — since, well, money can’t buy happiness — most material things might just not cut it as a gift. Especially with milestone birthdays like their 21st, celebrating your bestie with something unforgettable can be both a must-do and a hard choice all at once. So to show your love, give them memories that will last a lifetime through experience gifts instead of physical gifts.

Focused on creating moments (and sometimes adventures), experience gifts can span from wellness retreats to skydiving and art workshops, with unique and memorable options that show just how much you appreciate your best friend. Also appreciated for their thoughtfulness, experience gifts provide a chance of breaking up the day-to-day grind with activities that your bestie appreciates. But with so many experiences to choose from (and perhaps a limited budget), sometimes thinking of an experience to gift your bestie can take a bit of creativity. Here are 12 ideas to get you started.

Wine tasting

Toast to being 21 — literally. Wine-tasting sessions broaden your palate by introducing you to fruity, deep, and soft wine flavors. They are also a fun, easygoing way to get to know new people who might share the same interests as you and your bestie, and you can experiment with different gastronomical combinations. You may think a wine tasting is on the fancier side, but depending on where you look, you can find options as cheap as $20 a person.

Jewelry-making classes

A self-made bracelet, earrings, or anklet can be a unique way to celebrate being 21! Whether you’re a silver or gold fanatic, signing up for a jewelry-making class with your bestie can create a gift for both of you for years to come, and potentially even a new skill or hobby. This sort of class is ideal for those who like personalizing their outfits and making every outfit their own.

Spa day

A spa day always sounds good, so bring a little magic and relaxation to your bestie’s life with a day of pampering. A variety of packages at your local spa can fit into your budget, and offer your bestie a choice of treatments, from calming massages to pedicures, facials, and more. But if you’d rather keep it low-key and more affordable, you can gift a DIY and more personal version of a spa day at home by buying bath bombs, lotion, face masks, and other items, and setting it all up in your bestie’s bathroom.

Pottery class

Turn a lump of clay into art and take that one-of-a-kind vase home. If your friend’s the artsy type, this is their perfect idea of fun. Pottery classes allow for self-expression, mindfulness, and, of course, the learning of a very useful skill to celebrate a 21st birthday. Plus, it’s something different to spice up a birthday weekend.

Tickets to a game, concert, or musical

Concert memories last a lifetime, so surprising your best friend with tickets to see their favorite artist can be a great idea. The energy of a live performance can provide a break from everyday life and celebrate your bestie’s taste. Even if they’re not a music fan, the opportunity to see musicals, or basketball or football games, can also be a great gift. Make sure to grab a pair so they can bring someone along (hopefully, that’s you)!

Fruit or flower-picking

Besides being a cute spot for photo shoots, fruit or flower-picking at a local farm can be a special experience in itself. You’ll be able to grab home-grown, fresh fruits and pretty flowers to take home, plus you’ll both connect with nature and take in some gorgeous views.

Paint night

A creative way to have a night out, paint nights can add some art into your daily lives — along with your bestie’s drink of choice. Normally held at local bars, cafés, and studios, paint nights are enjoyable and a learning experience at the same time. There’s also the plus of taking your matching artwork home to decorate with. Cute, right?

Virtual learning experience

Mixology, tarot, cooking classes, you name it. Virtual classes can be a fun way to dip your toes into different areas of interest and develop new secret talents. Some even come with included kits to make the experience even more hands-on, so that you and your best friend can do the whole course without leaving home.

Adventure of their choosing

Indoor skydiving, learning how to fly a plane, and kayaking through caves are just some of the adventures you can book locally or through travel companies’ websites. For the daredevils out there, these experiences can help your friend cross out some lifetime bucket list items, and make memorable moments as a part of their 21st year. Prices start as low as $20 a person on sites like Virgin Experience Gifts.

Museum subscription

Guided tours, unlimited access to memorial works of art, and access to members-only parts of a museum may sound like heaven to the history and art lovers out here. If your best friend is one of them, gifting them a year-round museum subscription can be a thoughtful, special way to delve into a shared love.

The Adventure Challenge

The Adventure Challenge ($50) is a book that points out what your next adventure should be. With pages filled with 50 different scratch-off challenges, this out-of-the-box book encourages the reader to create new memories by suggesting plans like bubble baths, chasing your friends around town, and other ideas that have to be followed through with once the foil is gone. Space for notes and photos are also included, so the gift can become a time capsule of the good times!

Secret Food Tours

Maybe your favorite foodie spot is one step away and you just don’t know it yet. Let your bestie discover their next go-to place — possibly as iconic as Sex And The City’s Balzac or Friend’s Central Perk — by treating them to a Secret Food Tour in your city. The guided experience can be magical for food lovers, and will immerse them in a cultural, gastronomical, and historical trip right near their hometown.

Isabella Gemignani

Casper Libero '23

Isabella Gemignani is a National Writer for Her Campus and editor-in-chief of Her Campus Casper Libero. She covers everything culture-related for the national website - and oversees her chapter's content production, which involves editorial, social media, podcast and events verticals and makes up a team of over 100 girls. Beyond Her Campus, Isabella writes for the architecture and design magazine Casa e Jardim, Brazil's oldest magazine currently in the editorial market. With a 70-year-old history, Casa e Jardim is known for its traditional culture, gastronomy and lifestyle curation. When not writing – which is rare –, Isabella can be found reading classic novels and looking for new music releases that remind her of the feeling she had when she listened to AM for the first time.