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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Illinois State chapter.

Before I know it, my 21st birthday will be here! While I am looking forward to it, I know it’s a big day; therefore, lots of planning comes with it. 21 can certainly be an exciting time, but it can also be dangerous. To make the most of it, I am planning well in advance to have the best time possible.

Unfortunately, my special day falls on a Monday- not the best option for a day filled with liquor consumption. Being away from school makes the experience double; I will celebrate both at home and later on at school. 

Due to the Monday date, I will be spending the weekend beforehand and the day of at home. Even though I should be in classes that day, I am taking the day of my birthday to have some special time for myself and to surround myself with loved ones. That weekend beforehand, I plan to visit my favorite local coffee shop, enjoy breakfast with my grandpa, and have a bonfire with family; my perfect way to spend the last few days of age 20. 

On my actual birthday, I plan to start the morning out by having fun with breakfast and mimosas at home. Most of the local breakfast places back home add up in price quickly, so I’d rather wait to spend a ton of money until the party starts that night. After breakfast, I plan to drive around and grab as many birthday freebies as I can, such as a Crumbl cookie, before attempting to exchange my vertical license for a horizontal one. I hear from a few friends that it’s uncommon to be accepted into bars with just a vertical I.D. around here, even if valid, so I want to be sure I am prepared before celebrating on the days following my birthday. 

That afternoon, I plan to get ready and go all out. Later on, I will be attending my younger brother’s tennis match, so although I will likely be the most overdressed person there, at least I will be ready. Around dinnertime, I will head to a local Hibachi restaurant for some delicious food before heading to a few nearby bars for drinks. I can’t overdo it because I need to drive back to school the next day, but I’m sure I will still have a good time. My family will be keeping me safe by watching out for my drinks, counting how many I have had, and luckily, I have a designated driver lined up, so nobody has to risk dangerously driving home.

Of course, there’s only so much time in a day, so my celebrations extend to later in the week. On that Wednesday, I plan to attend ‘Pub Wednesday’ at Pub II, a weekly routine for some people due to their drink specials. Then, on Thursday, after my night class, I might head back to Uptown for alcoholic slushies at Heaterz, a new chicken place, or to enjoy drink specials at Fiala Brothers. That Friday and Saturday, to cap off the exciting week, I am hoping to go out with some friends to the bars in Downtown Bloomington to have my own ‘bar crawl.’

Clearly, with a week full of fun and drinking, the prices can add up quickly. I am hoping to limit my drinking to only a couple of drinks each night, both to save my bank account and myself. My budget for the week is $200, although I would like to stay under that, if possible. However, the expenses of going out can grow fast between the cover fees, drinks themselves, and getting designated drivers to take me back home.

Turning 21 takes plenty of planning, but in the end, it will all be worth it to have a fun birthday full of celebration. 

Paige Stolp

Illinois State '25

Hi, I'm Paige! I am a junior Middle Level Education major here at Illinois State with endorsements in science and English Language Arts. I enjoy being my own barista, cooking, watching sunrises and sunsets, and all things Taylor Swift!