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60 Unique 18th Birthday Ideas: Ways to Celebrate in Style

Sixty of the most unique and fun ways to celebrate turning 18.

Parents: take a deep breath. You did it. You raised your child.

Turning 18 is a significant milestone in anyone’s life; it marks the transition into adulthood. We know the tears are probably flowing as you plan their final birthday party before they head out into the big, bad world. But it’s a time to celebrate, reflect, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

We’ve compiled a list of 60 unique 18th-birthday ideas to help guide you through the planning. Whether you’re planning a party or seeking unique ways to commemorate this special occasion, your son or daughter’s 18th birthday is sure to be magical.

18th Birthday Party Ideas

  • Go to the beach.
  • Have a sleepover party.
  • Go out for a fancy dinner.
  • Host a mocktail tiki bar.
  • Host a pool party.
  • Have a fright night with friends.
  • Go sightseeing with friends.
  • Volunteer with friends.
  • Go thrift shopping.
  • Go wild camping.

Why Is an 18th Birthday So Special?

Turning 18 marks the beginning of one’s independence. They’re officially an adult! Your child has probably finished high school and is ready to embark on their own journey. Who will they become?

It’s an exciting time for both you and your child. Though right now, you’re probably feeling emotional. But for your teen, they’re ready for this big milestone.

In the eyes of the law, they can live alone, get married (though hopefully, that’s not on the cards), go to college, and do various other grown-up things! For most 18-year-olds, this age simply means a newfound freedom to enjoy.

It’s time to start planning this special birthday. Here are 60 things to do for an 18th birthday party. Whether you’re going for a grand celebration or a simple affair, we can help.

Simple 18th Birthday Party Ideas

To kickstart, let’s begin with our 12 simple ideas. Not everyone can — or wants to — plan an extravagant and over-the-top party. Check out these ideas if you’re keeping it simple but still want to mark the occasion.

1. Go To The Beach

Relax at the beach with your friends. Bring a cake and exchange gifts to make it feel like the special day that it is.

You could also take your family members and extend the guest list! Soaking up the summer sun and dipping in the ocean is a wholesome way to transition from adolescence into adulthood.

2. Go Bowling

Hit the bowling alley with friends and/or family! It’s a simple idea with little to no prep involved at all. But a fun bowling night is enough to make any 18-year-old feel lucky and happy, especially if you have incredible bowling skills to impress your friends!

3. Movie Marathon Night

It’s probably been a busy year, so your child might want to unwind and relax with friends in front of the TV. This relaxed get-together can still be a bundle of fun. Your teen can choose their favorite films, order pizza, make mocktails, and spend quality time with their besties.

4. Video Game Party

Two young adult in yellow playing video games

Invite over a few friends and go head-to-head in all your favorite games! This works best with a small sized group of one to five people. You, the parent, can be in charge of food and snacks. Perhaps set up a buffet beforehand or order some of your teen’s favorite cuisine.

5. Dessert Potluck

This simple idea is a great way to involve guests, get help with food, and enjoy a variety of sweet treats. Ask each guest to prepare a dessert, and when they arrive, arrange them together on the dessert table.

We still recommend having savory and nourishing foods, too, so that nobody leaves with a stomach ache!

6. Sleepover Party

Sleepovers aren’t going to be as formal now that your child is past 18. So have one last organized sleepover party before they head off to college! Since they’re 18 now, maybe they’d like to marathon a bunch of R-rated or horror movies!

7. Birthday Picnic

While you could throw an extravagant picnic, a simple picnic is easy to plan and still marks the special occasion. Your teen can head to a lovely park with friends before eating yummy picnic foods like pasta salads, chips, fruit, and cheese.

8. Donut Display

A donut display is a great and simple alternative to a birthday cake! Order a bunch of donuts and display them on pegs. It’s a fantastic eyecatcher for guests and will encourage people to snatch a sweet treat at the party.

9. Polaroid Picture Station

A Polaroid picture station is a simple addition, whether you’re having a small party or a large gathering. Set up a table with a few Polaroid cameras, extra film, and pegs to hang the photographs.

Guests can take candid photos throughout the party before hanging them up on the string. At the end of the party, the birthday girl or boy gets to keep the pictures as a souvenir from the event!

10. Out for Dinner

You know you’re an adult when a simple dinner party is enough to make you smile! Your teen can head to a renowned restaurant with their best friends for a delicious meal. They can sing happy birthday, enjoy some mocktails (or cocktails, depending on which country you live in), and celebrate this amazing milestone.

11. Your Favorite Colors

If you want to host a themed party, a simple idea is to choose your favorite colors. For instance, if you love green and blue, these two colors alone can create a cohesive theme that guests will instantly adore. Sticking to specific colors creates a fantastic atmosphere that will look great in photos!

12. Afternoon Tea

Woman pouring tea in the cup having fun with her friend

Step into the sophisticated lifestyle by celebrating your 18th with afternoon tea. We recommend booking an afternoon tea at a hotel or restaurant, as this makes planning much easier!

Your teen can invite friends and/or family to mark the occasion. Everyone can enjoy various sandwiches, savory foods, sweet treats, and tea flavors.

18th Birthday Party Ideas for Girls

Are you planning an 18th birthday party for your daughter? Here are 12 things to do for her 18th birthday party, whether staying at home or getting out with friends!

13. Mean Girls Party

A Mean Girls party is perfect for a drama queen! Of course, we want to encourage you that this party shouldn’t encourage your teen to actually act like a mean girl. It’s just for fun!

Decorate with Mean Girls decor, pink balloons, a sparkly backdrop, and fetch photo booth props!

14. Backyard Festival Party

For my 18th birthday party, we had a backyard festival party. We set up tents in the backyard, blasted trending music, and ate barbecued food.

We also lit the bonfire and toasted marshmallows. A few people camped overnight, and in the morning, we had waffles.

Take your backyard festival party to the next level with live music if you have the means to do so!

15. Boho Birthday

A boho bash is an elegant way to celebrate your 18-year-old. This party will stand out from the crowd, from pastel colors to a beautiful balloon arch, from fresh flowers to a pillow-seated table. Guests will remember it forever as one of the most aesthetic celebrations they’ve ever attended.

16. Denim and Diamonds

Denim and Diamonds is a theme that many 18-year-old gals will swoon over! Everyone dresses in a combination of the two. You can also use both textures to decorate the venue. Besides the blue and silver decor, the teens can enjoy a three-course meal together before grooving on the dance floor.

17. Luxurious Spa Day

You’ve possibly thrown a few at-home spa days for your daughter thus far. But now that she’s 18, send her and a few friends off to an authentic spa to celebrate.

If she’d rather, she can head to the spa with you instead. This is the perfect time to get a relaxing massage, a makeover, and soak in a bubble pool.

18. Mocktail Tiki Bar

If you’re in the US, then mocktails it is. In other countries, such as the UK, 18 is the legal drinking age. So this can certainly be a cocktail party instead.

Either way, set up a tiki bar with a variety of incredible drinks. You may want to hire a bartender to create and serve the drinks. Otherwise, parents can attempt the role of bartender!

19. Shopping Spree

Does your teen want to spend the day shopping with friends? By now, she might be driving, so she can take her pals to the local mall where they can shop ‘til they drop. Afterward, they can head to the food court to snack on their favorite foods.

If you’re giving your daughter money for her 18th, now might be a good time to surprise her with it. Then she can spend some of it at the mall with her friends.

20. Hotel Party

Book a night or two at a hotel for your daughter and her friends. This sophisticated plan gives them a chance to unwind, taste their newfound independence, and enjoy fancy amenities like a pool, spa, and room service.

21. Matching Tattoos

Your daughter is officially old enough to get a tattoo! If she’s always been wanting one, now she can spend the day experiencing this rite of passage. Whether she wants to get her own tattoo or a matching one with a bestie, she and her friends can spend the day at the parlor before grabbing a bite.

22. Silent Disco

Hire a venue and host a silent disco for your daughter’s 18th! If she has a long guest list, this is a wonderful idea. Not only does it get all her favorite people together in one space, but since the room is silent, guests can properly catch up between dances.

23. Costume Party

Host a themed costume party for your daughter’s 18th! The theme could be pirates, the wild west, Disney characters, celebrities, or the 1920s. There are so many funky options! Whatever you choose, match the decorations and cake with the theme.

24. Karaoke Night

Karaoke nights are the perfect recipe for uniting friends! Whether you’re hosting at home, at a venue, or you’ve found a venue that takes under 21-year-olds, this party is exactly what your 18-year-old has ordered.

18th Birthday Party Ideas for Guys

You’re never too old for a birthday party. We have 12 memorable ideas for your son’s 18th birthday party, whether celebrating at home or out with friends.

25. Pool Party

Friends having fun in the pool

No matter when your birthday is, a pool party is our first point-of-call! You can host this at an outdoor pool in the summer or an indoor pool in the winter.

Between swims, ensure guests have food, drinks, and a place to dry off and chat with friends. We also recommend fun pool floats and games to entertain guests.

26. Hiking Adventure

Group of friends with backpacks hiking in the forest

Head off into the wilderness for your 18th birthday! Take a few friends with you and backpack through the trails until you reach the viewpoint. Hiking with friends is a great experience, especially if the birthday boy has an adventurous spirit!

27. Foam Party

Foam parties are synonymous with college students, so why not kick start this journey at your 18th birthday party? The idea is that foam is blown onto the dance floor while guests dance. The foam can reach around six feet wide and spread across the entire dance floor, creating a crazy but hilarious atmosphere for guests!

28. Weekend Trip

Three male friends standing at the airport with their luggages

At 18, you’re an adult! No more parent supervision! Why not head on a weekend trip with your best buddies? You can head somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, city or country, to make new memories with your friends.

29. At-Home Clubbing

In many countries, 18-year-olds can’t yet legally attend the clubs. So bring the club to you.

Before the party, help your teen set up. Hang up classic birthday decorations, a space for a DJ or speakers, and lots of food and drink. You probably want this party to be one without alcohol, so make sure your teen is aware of the laws and rules expected of them.

30. Go To a Concert

People raising their hands at a concert

18-year-old boys will love going to a concert with their friends, especially if one of their favorite musicians is in town! They are also old enough to travel to a concert, so they might want to make a weekend trip of it if the band is playing in a different city.

31. Games Night

Get competitive at games night! Whether you’re playing silly games like Twister or serious games like Risk — this party will be a hit.

It’s also great for both large and smaller guest lists. If you need some board game ideas, trending games include Cards Against Humanity, Dominion, Werewolf, and Relative Insanity.

32. Theme Park

Roller coaster ride on a bright cloudy day

Whizz around the theme park with friends! Take on thrilling rides like roller coasters, log flumes, carousels, Ferris wheels, and more. Whether you’re going to a local theme park or a well-known one, like Disney World or Six Flags, this epic adventure is fantastic for young adults!

33. Decade Party

Step back in time with a decade party. You can slip back to the 90s or go all the way back to the 1500s! There are no rules.

Make sure everyone knows the dress code, decorate the house accordingly, and ensure some retro snacks and drinks for people to enjoy.

34. Fright Night

Turn your home into a haunted house for your son’s 18th. A fright night is fantastically spooky and works all year round.

Decorate with eerie decor, orange balloons, and dim the lights. You can set up lots of candles, but we recommend fake ones to avoid a fire hazard. Guests dress up in scary outfits, and together, they can hang out at the house, playing games, dancing, or watching horror films.

35. Poker Night

Player holding ace and queen cards at poker game

A poker night — using chips or Cheerios — is a fun activity for a lad and his pals. Don’t use real money, as that could be disastrous! When we played as teens, we used cereal. It was ridiculous but effective!

36. BBQ Party

Assorted meat and vegetables on barbecue griller

Perhaps your son wants to host his first BBQ! Whether he’s a pro griller or he still needs a bit of help from his parents, he can still feel like he’s hosting. His friends can come over, enjoy some delicious food, and hang out in the backyard. Hopefully, the weather cooperates!

18th Birthday Ideas With Friends

So far, all of our ideas work with friends, whether you’re inviting female pals or male buddies — or both! But here are 12 fantastic birthday ideas for 18-year-olds celebrating with friends, whether they are inviting two or 200!

37. Bring a Board Night

This trending idea has become popular in the last couple of years. The idea is that each friend is in charge of bringing a food board.

Whether it’s a cookie board, charcuterie board, donut board, or something else, it’s a delicious way to celebrate! Once everyone has arrived, there will be so many yummy treats and delicacies to try.

38. Murder Mystery Party

This party is fun for two reasons. Number one, you can have a low-lit, fancy dinner with friends. And number two, you work together in a hilarious script-style game to determine which of you is the murderer.

Grab a game pack, like Murder on Misty Island, and assign a character to each guest. When everyone arrives, they get a script and follow instructions for gameplay.

39. Outdoor Movie Night

Whether you’re hosting at home in the backyard or the teens are heading to a drive-in movie, this nostalgic activity is so cozy. Grab blankets, cushions, popcorn, and snacks, and watch films with friends under a sky full of stars.

40. Birthday Photoshoot

Whether you’re having a house party or a Bring a Board Night, we recommend a birthday photoshoot setup! Whether you’re hiring a photo booth or creating a DIY backdrop, 18-year-olds deserve brilliant snapshots from their celebration.

41. Escape Room

Nobody should be doing an escape room alone! That would be boring. Take along a few friends and work together to escape before the clock counts down. You should be able to find a few local escape rooms near you, but if not, you can create one for your teen at home.

42. Cooking Class

Looking for unique things to do for your 18th birthday? A cooking class with friends is a great idea! If you’ve always wanted to learn how to cook a particular cuisine or simply need some pointers for cooking at college, this will be a fun and educational experience!

43. Bridgerton Party

Is your child obsessed with Bridgerton? Then throw them a Bridgerton-style 18th celebration! Guests will adore it.

Decorate with greenery, beautiful florals, vintage details, and a gorgeous castle-style backdrop. Guests arrive in stunning floor-length gowns or regal suits and spend the evening dancing, mingling, and enjoying dainty snacks and tea.

44. Enchanted Forest

Go all out with an extravagant enchanted forest party. You can throw this in a backyard, garden, real forest, or a venue. Decorate with greenery, florals, twinkling lights, and wooden details.

Guests can wear flowy dresses and handsome suits to complete the look. Food ideas include forest berries, finger sandwiches, scones, chocolate crispy cakes (you can call these birds nests), and other forest-themed snacks.

45. Go Sightseeing

Beautiful washington dc in spring season with river reflection

Sightseeing with friends is an important rite of passage. Until now, teens have tagged along on family vacations. But now, they have the freedom to travel with friends! So prompt your teen to visit famous sights and historical landmarks with friends.

46. City by Night Tour

City skyscraper lights at night

Rent a limousine and head out into the city for a nighttime tour. The chauffeur can drop the teens off at various restaurants and venues. While in many countries they still can’t join a bar crawl, a nighttime city tour is still a stylish way to celebrate an 18th with friends!

47. Segway Tour

People with helmet on traveling on Segway in the park

Want to do something unique for your child’s 18th? Book a private Segway tour! It’s an exciting way to travel around a city, see the sights, and learn facts about the area. Stop at renowned restaurants and cute cafes before zooming onward!

48. Paintballing

Man with complete gear playing paintball

Paintballing is an epic group activity! So if your teen has a bunch of friends they want to hang with, it doesn’t get better than this.

This competitive sport involves teamwork or individual players battling against each other until there is a winner. The paintballs explode when they hit a person, covering the targets in multicolored dye.

18th Cheap Birthday Party Ideas

Even though an 18th birthday is a big deal, that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune to have a good time. We’ve put together a list of 12 budget-friendly ideas for celebrating this magnificent milestone.

49. Roller Skating

Partial view of parents and kids skating on roller rink together

Hit the roller rink for your child’s 18th! You can save money if you don’t book a function suite. Simply purchase a ticket for each guest and let them glide the rink at their own pace. After skating, they can grab a bite to eat at a fast food restaurant or return to your home for some grub.

50. Scavenger Hunt

Three friends looking at something in the forest

We know what you’re thinking: scavenger hunts are for little kids! But at 18, teens are probably feeling pretty nostalgic for their childhood. So a scavenger hunt can be tons of fun.

Make a challenging list of things they need to find at your home, or in the neighborhood, or take them to a fun location, like a national park.

51. Waffle Party

Healthy waffle breakfast with fruits

Batch cook a bunch of waffles for your child and their friends. Waffles are cheap and easy to make. Then set the table up with various toppings, like fruit, cream, syrup, bacon, and more. This is a simple party theme and will keep guests satisfied and entertained!

52. Visit the Lake

Friends kayaking together in the lake

If you live near a lake, your teen can head there with friends to hang out under the sun. If you have kayaks, canoes, or paddle boards, bring them along for unlimited — and cheap — fun. Pack a picnic to keep everyone happy during their day trip!

53. Use a Guestbook

Person signing the guestbook at the wedding reception

Lay out a guestbook at the party for your teen’s friends and family to sign. This is a lovely keepsake for your child. They can look back on what their nearest and dearest had to say about them. You could even set up a digital guestbook, so friends can leave pictures and video messages!

54. Buffet Restaurant

Buffet restaurants are typically cheaper than regular restaurants. Plus, guests can eat as much as they want! Why not book your child a night at a buffet restaurant with a few friends? It saves money but still provides a fun outing for them and their buddies.

55. Visit a Museum

Your teen might appreciate a grown-up outing with friends. They can head to a museum (many are free!) and grab a bite at a cafe later. This classy excursion is a cultivated way to celebrate and learn more about a particular culture or topic.

56. Volunteer Party

Give back to your local community with a volunteering party. Your teen can take a few friends to a food bank, animal shelter, or elsewhere. Together, they can make a difference where it’s most needed while still enjoying quality time with one another.

57. Go Wild Camping

Camping tent near the bonfire in the forest

Wild camping is usually totally free, depending on where you live. Spend the night under the stars with friends. Become one with nature, building your own fire and cooking food before spending the morning drinking coffee with a view!

58. Go Thrift Shopping

Teens love shopping, and a spree is a great way to spend an 18th birthday. But thrifting is even cheaper! And dare we say, more fun. Spend the day hunting down gorgeous one-of-a-kind clothes and home decor.

59. Home Dinner Party

Going out for dinner is a lush experience. But you can have just as much fun at home. Plus, what’s stopping you from making delicious food?

You and your teen can prep a three-course meal beforehand. Set up the table with cute decor, candles, and flowers. Leave the teens to hang out during their sophisticated evening!

60. Lawn Game Party

Woman playing bags game in backyard

A lawn party is so much fun, especially when the weather is nice! Set up fun games like bean bag toss, horseshoes, croquet, and other classic ideas. Combine this with a barbecue or a mocktail bar to feed your guests!

How To Make an 18th Birthday Special

How To Make an 18th Birthday Special Icon

Here are 10 tips for what to do in order to make this a successful and memorable event for your teenager. After all, they’ve come a long way, so it’s essential to do everything possible to ensure this party is a hit.

  • Ask your teen: What does your teen want to do? It’s their birthday, so they should plan something that suits them — within reason, of course.
  • Consider friends and family: Consider inviting friends and family to the party. Parents, we know you’ll want to be there, so ask your teen if that’s okay. You could also invite cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents to make this a memorable occasion.
  • Decide on a theme: Themes were cool when your child was a toddler, but they’re still cool now! While themes might differ slightly from 15 years ago, they can help tie a party together.
  • Hire a DJ: You can make a playlist for the party, and people will still have a blast. But if you’re hosting a dance party or disco, we recommend hiring a DJ to play trending music and encourage dancing.
  • Choose a thoughtful gift: Now is your time to buy your child a gift that means something to them! Perhaps you want to get them a personalized watch or bracelet. Or maybe it’s time to put something towards their first car. Whatever it is, make sure it’s thoughtful and represents who they are.
  • Plan fun and cute activities: Hosting a party is a fantastic idea! But the organization doesn’t end at choosing a time and booking a venue. Have a few activities on the go, like a Polaroid picture station or photo booth.
  • Warn the neighbors: If hosting at home, let the neighbors know when the 18th birthday party is happening. Chances are it will be a bit loud, so they will appreciate the heads up.
  • Stay safe: At 18, drinking is still illegal in many countries. So make sure that there is no alcohol at the party. Also, be on the lookout for drugs, drink-spiking, and other inappropriate behavior.
  • Have enough food: Whether there’s a handful of people or a large crowd, ensure there is enough food. People will probably eat quite a lot, especially if it’s a long party, so you don’t want to run out.
  • Stick to your budget: You might be tempted to go all out. It’s your child’s 18th birthday, after all! But make a budget and stick to it. If you need cheap ideas, we have 12 budget-friendly ways to celebrate an 18th birthday.

How Can I Celebrate My 18th Birthday Without a Party?

You don’t need to throw a party to mark this milestone and feel special. You can do literally anything you want on your 18th! Whether that’s sleeping in late and watching movies at home or booking a vacation getaway, these are all amazing ideas.

Some other ideas include:

  • Have a “yes” day: Throw a “yes” day for your teenager. Whatever they want, they get! They plan the activities, choose the food, and decide how late you all stay up.
  • Overnight getaway: Book a hotel for the night. Your child can take a friend, or perhaps they want to go with their family!
  • Go out for dinner: A nice dinner with family is always a great way to celebrate any birthday.


Which Is Bigger: An 18th or 21st Birthday?

In the US, a 21st is usually a bigger deal. It marks the legal drinking age, which is significant in the culture.

In the UK, 18 is a bigger deal. This marks the legal drinking age, which puts importance on this birthday.

What Is the Best Gift for an 18th Birthday Girl?

It really depends on the person! While one girl might appreciate a pair of diamond earrings, another might love a stack of new books!

Here are some great ideas:

How Much Money Do You Give for an 18th Birthday?

It depends on your financial situation and your relationship with the 18-year-old. For friends, cousins, and distant relatives, around $15 to $25 is acceptable.

For close relatives, $50 and upwards is typical. But don’t pressure yourself if that’s out of reach!

What Can I Do for My 18th Birthday in Winter?

Winter shouldn’t stop you from celebrating your teen! You can go sledding, skiing, or ice skating. Host a dance party indoors at home or at a venue.

Go out for a nice dinner at a favorite restaurant. You can also host a bonfire party, a hot chocolate party, or a baking party. Another fantastic idea is attending a sporting event!

What Should I Say to My Daughter on Her 18th Birthday?

Her 18th birthday is a great excuse to give your daughter a sentimental message! Whether you’re making a speech, letting her know in passing, or writing it in her card, tell your child how much you love her.

You can let her know how proud you are of her and give her the motivation to achieve anything she dreams. Now that she’s entering adulthood, she’ll need your support more than ever, so let her know that you’re always there for her.

How Can I Make My Birthday Meaningful?

Reminder: your birthday is already meaningful. But for some practical ideas, check out the list below:

  • Have some me-time: Spend some time alone doing something you love. Book a massage, visit the bookstore, or go out for a run. Your birthday is the perfect excuse to do whatever you want.
  • Start or continue a tradition: Did you have a birthday tradition growing up? Revisit it on your 18th. Or perhaps you’d like to start a new tradition, something that means a lot to you!
  • Plan in advance: If you’re planning your own party, plan it a few months in advance so that people can schedule out time to attend.
  • Write a letter to yourself: Whether this is a love letter to yourself or a letter to future you, this gives you a chance to stop and reflect on your past, present, and future.
  • Treat yourself: There’s no better time to treat yourself than on your birthday! Spend some of that birthday money on something you’ve been eyeing for a long time.

How Long Should an 18th Party Last?

Your 18th birthday can last as long as you’d like! Typically, we don’t see an end time on invitations at this stage. If you’re having a movie marathon, it might last for around four to six hours.

If you’re having a house party, it might start at 8 p.m. and continue into the wee hours of the morning. The length of the party depends on your activities, the vibe of the celebration, and your wishes!

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a Scottish freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism and English literature. She is a mum to a young boy, and believes that it truly takes a village. When she’s not parenting, writing about parenting, or working, she can be found reading, working on her novel, taking photos, playing board games or wandering through the countryside with her family.