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Turning 18 is a major milestone in everyone’s life. Excitedly marked with the newfound ability to vote, get tattoos, buy lottery tickets and convince yourself that you’re finally a “real adult,” turning 18 is an immensely transitional time for many.
Such a special day should be celebrated with only the most fun, interesting and exciting gifts and activities. Continue reading below for inspiration on the best 18th birthday ideas to get you started.
IN THIS POST
Not sure what to give your friend that is turning 18? Afraid that he/she might not like the gift? No worries.
The Amazon Birthday Box Gift Card is the BEST gift in this situation because your friend will get to choose what he/she truly wants.
Amazon is super popular these days and everyone is always buying there so this gift is perfect for any 18 year old.
Personally, this is probably my favorite gift to give away. My friends love it. The box can be customized with balloons and ribbons so it is a really cool gift to give away to either a girl or a boy. Highly recommend it.
Keep up to date with the latest home decor trends, and get the newly independent 18-year-old a handmade, multicolor candle that will add personality and light to any room, both at home and at college.
Not only are these candles affordable, but they are also personalizable. You can choose their color and scent, a feature unique to candles like this from small businesses.
This business sells a variety of decorative, handcrafted candles at affordable prices, all with great reviews.
Perfect for any astrology buff in your life, this personalized star map is both perfect decor for a newly independent teen and also a heartfelt commemoration of someone’s birthday. This map highlights the date, time and location of someone’s birth.
As someone who enjoys giving and receiving sappy gifts, I’m in love with this print and the customization options that are available.
The choices are excellent for anyone’s preferred aesthetic and design. This product works for all new 18-year-olds, whether it be your sister, friend, boyfriend, child or grandchild, and reminds them of how much they’re loved.
5. “The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion” by Elle Luna
With the arrival of the 18th birthday also comes many questions about the future. Will you go to college, and what will you study? Do you want a roommate or several roommates? How about work?
This book about mindfulness and self-help about making decisions and honoring your desires is a perfect gift for new 18-year-olds going out into the world.
Described as “an inspirational gift book for every recent graduate, every artist, every seeker and every career change,” this book is all about making decisions and moving forward when you come to a crossroad.
With raving reviews across platforms, this book is both inspiring and an easy read. It is ideal for an 18-year-old navigating graduation and transitioning into adulthood.
Everyone gets excited about their new independence when they turn 18. To jumpstart the exploration they’ll be doing in the next few years, get them a scratch-off map so they can keep track of all the places they’ve visited.
My sister and I both have scratch-off maps, and we love them. They remind us of our travels and the places we’ve visited as a family.
The top layer on this product also scratches away to reveal a beautiful watercolor design, which makes the places you’ve visited become their own little pieces of art.
Never be caught without a charger again with this cool gift, perfect for a newly independent young adult who’s constantly on the go.
I try to make a habit of bringing a portable charger with me whenever I leave the house, but more often than not I forget to grab one.
When I’m running around all day going to classes, working or hanging out with friends, my battery charge plummets.
As someone who regularly wears bracelets, I would havetrouble forgetting a charger that also doubles as a piece of jewelry.
College and applications are always stressful, but this gift provides a way to relax and unwind after writing numerous essays and cover letters.
As a massive proponent of self-care, I think you can almost never go wrong with a spa box. Another product by a small business, this comes with a candle and body scrub and includes add-ons such as a succulent, face masks and natural fragrances.
Do you have great taste in movies? Do you want everyone to know you have good taste? Another trendy home decor option, these custom minimalist movie and TV posters turn favorite characters into aesthetically pleasing art.
The minimalist design of these prints makes them perfect for any room and personality. The bold text is complemented by the small color palettes, which are customized for a singular frame of the movie or show.
This gift is perfect for the movie buffs in your life. I’m even considering getting one for one of my best friends.
Wall art is always a good gift idea, and this album cover art is an especially trendy home decor option.
Customized album cover art lets you show off your music taste and personal style in a new apartment or dorm room.
Made by a small business with incredible reviews, this product adds personality to any room.
A feature I really enjoy with this is how the artist allows you to submit any photo to act as the centerpiece of the art, and a song--whether it’s the song you and your friends scream-sing in the car or you and your partner’s song--complements the bottom of the piece.
This gift is super personal. I’m considering getting one for my younger sister.
Going off to college or just leaving home is exciting, but occasionally, the homesickness will catch up to you. This candle helps you keep part of your home with you wherever you are.
Despite going to college in my home state, I still manage to get homesick every once in a while.
The New York candle immediately transports me back to my hometown.
This gift is perfect to remind recent graduates and graduating seniors of their roots. I can’t recommend it enough.
A perfect personalized gift for your best friends, this keychain lets you keep photos of your loved ones with you at all times. This is a wonderful way to compile the fun photos you took at the 18th birthday party.
As someone who is constantly struggling to decide what photos should be my phone wallpaper or kept in my phone case and wallet, this would be a helpful addition to my keyring; it lets me have multiple pictures of my friends and loved ones with me at all times.
This gift is also a good present for graduating seniors so they can always have their memories of home with them.
Not only will this help to keep all that birthday money in order, but it also provides a secure place for a student ID and business cards. I personally prefer a folding wallet, but I’ve found that mine is quite bulky and takes up a lot of space in my pockets and bags.
This is especially true when I’m on the go. A flat wallet like this one has ample room for credit cards, cash and identification while saving you space in pockets and bags.
This wallet also comes in a variety of colors and textures and has great reviews in regards to snugness and security of cards.
Ideal for carrying textbooks around or for carrying groceries, every young adult needs a few tote bags. I absolutely swear by tote bags; I almost never leave the house without one.
They make accessing your things easy and, in my opinion, complement outfits better than a bulky backpack might.
I use my tote bags to carry my computer and textbooks, but I also use them as shopping bags whenever I go grocery shopping or go to the store.
These bags are from a small business, and the shop owner includes a personalized note and free stickers with every purchase!
A relaxing pick-me-up on especially difficult days, this cute and funny book provides a way to unwind from stress. Studies have shown that making art helps lower stress levels, so this gift is a perfect go-to.
Adult coloring books are a good way to add new art to any room without necessarily having to be “good” at art. You don’t even have to worry about coloring in the lines!
A 2020 article by the Cleveland Clinic reported that adult coloring books are especially relaxing because they give you something else to focus on and are a low-stakes activity.
While on the pricier side, wireless headphones are an excellent gift that’s guaranteed to be used almost every single day. These are perfect for doing homework or working out without having to worry about wires.
I use my headphones every day without fail. Whether I’m walking around campus or working on an assignment, my wireless headphones give me full range of mobility without the worry of a cord snagging on something.
Personally, I prefer wireless headphones that have an ear loop for added support and security, but it’s dependent on your preferences.
17. “Today I Affirm: A Journal That Nurtures Self Care” by Alexandra Elle
A highly reviewed book focused on self-care and introspection, this gift is perfect to remind loved ones to slow down and take care of themselves.
For recent or upcoming graduates, this book can act as a way to decompress after a long day of work or classes.
The benefits of meditation and personal introspection cannot be overstated. A 2014 report by Harvard Medical School found that meditation can reduce anxiety, pain and depression while helping you with “your creativity, your intuition [and] your connection with your inner self.”
As a massive proponent of positive self-talk and journaling, I highly recommend this book, especially to young adults.
Come on, everyone has thought about wanting big birthday balloons at least once in their life. And for the big day, you might as well go all out to celebrate 18 years with these fun number balloons, which provide a perfect photo opportunity.
The 18th birthday is such a monumental day, so your birthday star deserves to be the center of it all. To pull out all the stops, check out this personalized poster that compiles memories from the year they were born.
I got one of these for my mom’s birthday a few years back, and everyone at the party was obsessed with it.
People took time to discuss their memories of the events and products that shared my mom’s birth year.
This gift would be especially fun at an 18th birthday party to see what figures and events are still relevant almost two decades later.
This would make an amazing background for pictures! An LED curtain is super easy to install, and it creates a cool ambience for a birthday party.
I especially like these because it looks like they’d blend in with any other type of decoration, and they could also work with a more minimalist theme. You can put these in your bedroom when you’re done.
You only turn 18 once, so you might as well go all out for it and have a fun cake topper. This cake topper is a good option for those who can’t spell out names and phrases with icing--which isn’t a bad thing! (I can’t spell with icing for the life of me, either.)
Not only does this product have good reviews, but its neutral design makes it a nice decorative touch that will fit with any cake design.
Are you planning an 18th birthday party at home or going out for a birthday dinner? If you’re searching for some simple 18th birthday party ideas to create a more celebratory atmosphere, these table toppers are the perfect solution.
Because of their quick assembly and charming appearances, they have become top-rated birthday party decorations. Whether you booked some tables at your favorite restaurant or invited some friends over to celebrate, these centerpieces make it easy to add some charm to your birthday decor!
Guestbooks are common ornamentation at special events like birthday parties. People can sign their names and leave notes for the guest of honor, and it’s nice to look back on those special memories.
But a guestbook is not the most exciting decoration when it comes to an 18th birthday party. This is why you should forget about a boring guestbook and instead, decorate for your party with this 18th birthday-themed wall art.
This cute wall art is a much more exciting birthday decoration idea, and it serves as more than just decor.
Just like a guestbook, it can be displayed during your party so guests can sign their names and leave happy birthday wishes.
Once your birthday is over, you’ll have personalized art that will help you remember how special your 18th birthday was
Photo booths are classic party decor because they’re perfect for capturing special moments, and it doesn’t get much more special than your 18th birthday, so it’s essential to make the memories last.
But you don’t need a photo booth to capture those important memories — you just need your phone or the new Polaroid camera you received for your birthday along with this frame that looks like a photo booth image.
The frame is a unique party decoration that’s perfect for an 18th birthday party. It’s designed with the number 18 and says “Happy Birthday,” so every photo will hold a special memory from that day.
Decorate your party with this photo frame, and everyone will be lining up to have their pictures taken as if they were lining up for a real photo booth.
When you’re planning for a big event like your 18th birthday party, simple decorations can be easily forgotten. Streamers, balloons, and banners are indispensable decorations that will make your guests feel welcome, but tablecloths are functional decorations.
They will not only add to the celebratory vibe, but will also make cleanup easier after the inevitable spills that are sure to happen with so many people carrying food and drinks around.
These tablecloths are black, pink, and sparkly, and the word “Eighteen” is stylishly displayed across the cover, so they’ll go with any of your other 18th birthday decorations.
28. Spend time with friends
There are few ways better to celebrate a birthday than by spending time with the people you love. When the weather is nice, go for a picnic or make marshmallows over a fire. In the colder seasons, make dinner together and watch a favorite movie.
29. Finally do “adult things”
Now, this isn’t encouraging you to buy a pack of cigarettes and hit the clubs, but it’s still funny and exciting to buy your first lotto scratcher or get your first tattoo.
30. Have a costume party
Who says that costumes have to be reserved for Halloween? Make sure your 18th birthday party is unforgettable by having guests dress up as their favorite characters or as a certain theme.
31. Play We’re Not Really Strangers
A perfect party game, We’re Not Really Strangers allows players to make new connections and strengthen the ones they already have. Warning: this game may cause players–especially those nearing graduation–to get immensely sappy.
While I don’t own this game, several of my friends do; they say it’s an absolute hit, especially when getting to know people. I’m constantly being recommended We’re Not Really Strangers and am currently considering buying a pack myself to play with my roommates.
Make it happen:
32. Create a well wishes jar
Growing up isn’t always easy, and things can get overwhelming quickly. This gift lets the 18-year-old in your life hear how proud the people who love them are of them and gives the new adult the encouragement they need to keep moving forward.
33. Play Birthday Bingo
Don’t be afraid of your guests getting bored at your party. A few close rounds of bingo are sure to bring out your friends’ competitive sides. Make the squares relate to the birthday star to make it even more fun.
34. Play Jackbox Party Games
Games such as “Quiplash” are perfect for groups and always manage to get a crowd laughing. These games are also perfect in-person activities as well as virtual ones.
I’ve played “Quiplash” during game night at my friends’ houses, and each time we play I end up tired from laughing so hard.
Jackbox games are also good because they have an audience option that allows for lots of people to play at one time. That way, more people can be included in the fun.
36. Take Pics with Disposable Cameras
Encourage guests to get off their phones by having them take photos of the party with disposable cameras. Giving a disposable camera to the birthday person can help them remember this important birthday for years.
Not only will you receive digital copies when the film is developed, but the printed photos can be used as decor afterwards.
Make it happen:
37. Play Party Jenga
Have guests and friends write challenges, dares, and questions on Jenga pieces. When you play, each person must do whatever the block says before placing it back on the tower.
Make it happen:
38. Get a Marimo Moss Ball Kit
An aquarium kit is a great gift for a newly independent young adult. This gift is perfect for anyone–even for those who tend to kill plants–looking to become more responsible.
I’ve been considering getting marimo moss balls for a few months now; as with any plant–or pet?–I’ve done my research to see how much effort they require and how difficult it is to mess up taking care of them.
And in truth, it’s actually really difficult to mess up taking care of them! They require minimal effort but still help you to be responsible and maintain a schedule. They also function as super cute room decor.
39. Movie Marathon Night
An ideal party idea for homebodies, a movie marathon is a great way to spend time with friends while also staying low-key and affordable. Set up some ambient lighting and a pillow fort, and you’re
40. Get a Mocktail bar
For some people, 18th birthdays aren’t as exciting as the big 2-1. Having mocktails helps make a party atmosphere fun and more adult while still being safe and legal.
Make it happen:
41.Host a Dinner Party
For smaller get-togethers, pick a fun, new recipe to try out and center the party around making and eating dinner with your friends. Wait for food to cook by playing games and making memories.
42. Host a Paint and Sip Night
Another more laid-back option, this idea is perfect for those who want to celebrate without having a huge party. A paint and sip lets guests paint their own party gift while having fun drinks and snacks. This event leaves everyone with a souvenir to remind them of time spent with friends.
Make it happen:
43.Get a Time capsule
On your 18th birthday, make a gift for your future self to open. Let your future self know what you did, how you’re feeling, and what you’re looking forward to in the future!
44. Go on a trip
Pick your closest friends and take a day trip somewhere, whether it be the next town over or the new coffee place you’ve been dying to try. Half the fun of going on a trip is the memories you make on the way there.
45. Go camping
Getting away and spending time with yourself and your buddies is one of the best ways to celebrate being 18. Even if you have to set up a campsite in your yard or living room, spending the night in a tent and laughing with your friends is always fun.
46. Go To the Beach
If you’re looking for a simple place to spend your 18th birthday, the beach is the perfect venue. There are limitless opportunities for birthday fun when you go to the ocean or the lake.
You can have a swimming party if your birthday is during the hotter months; be sure to let your guests know to wear swimming attire.
If your birthday is during a cooler time of year, you can enjoy everyone’s company all bundled up around a bonfire; be sure to bring supplies for s’mores along with a speaker and your favorite party playlist.
The beach is also a great destination if you’re looking for birthday trip ideas.
If you don’t have an ocean or lake nearby, but you’re looking for a place to go for a weekend celebration, book a hotel, pack some sunscreen and your bathing suit, gather your favorite people, and head to the nearest beach for an 18th birthday sandy extravaganza! Going to the beach is the ultimate birthday getaway.
47. Go To the Mall
Going to the mall might seem like a strange place to go on your birthday. You can go there any day of the week! Why go there on your 18th birthday?
But there are so many things to do at the mall, which makes it the perfect place to celebrate your special day.
Now that you’re an adult, you might be ready to update your closet; at the mall, you can spend the day shopping with your friends and revamping your wardrobe with essential college and professional attire.
Even if you’re not ready for a new wardrobe, the mall is the perfect place to go for birthday games.
Your friends can build a new outfit for you to wear before you go to your birthday dinner or party.
Head over to your favorite store and assign an article of clothing for each friend to choose for you, but don’t let anyone see what the other friends have picked out until you walk out of the changing room.
Some friends will probably choose nice pieces, while others will probably choose outlandish articles of clothing. By the time you leave the mall in your crazy new birthday outfit, you’ll all be laughing together.
There are endless possibilities at the mall, so if you’re looking for a fun place to go where you can create lasting memories on your 18th birthday, invite your friends to go shopping with you!
48. Go To the Spa
Turning 18 is a significant birthday for many reasons. Most importantly, you’re an adult now, which comes with a lot of responsibility and stress. That’s why going to the spa is the perfect place to go on your 18th birthday.
Treat yourself to a day of pampering. Get yourself a manicure and pedicure, get a relaxing massage, and receive all kinds of rejuvenating care for your skin.
The best part is that many spas offer birthday packages. Not only will you have a relaxing and invigorating day, but you’ll have it at a discount since it’s your birthday!
49. Go To a Dance Club
Now that you’re 18, your birthday parties no longer have to be surprises centered around cake and ice cream. You can do adult things and go to adult places, which means you can go clubbing!
Of course, you can’t drink alcohol for a few more years, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself on your birthday night out. Many clubs allow 18-and-over admission or offer 18-and-over nights.
Your 18th birthday is the perfect opportunity to dance and party the night away with your friends.
50. Go To the Tattoo Parlor
Nothing says “adult” quite like getting your first tattoo. Now that you’re 18, you can head on over to your local tattoo parlor and get inked!
Maybe you’ve had a special tattoo idea in mind for a long time and now you have the opportunity to make it permanent. Or maybe you’re waiting to be inspired when you get to the shop.
If you have some friends who also want to get tattooed, contact the artist ahead of time. If you’re all getting a small tattoo at the same time, the tattoo parlor might even give you a birthday party discount.
Now that you’re 18, it’s finally time to find a tattoo artist whose style you like, book an appointment on your birthday, and gather your closest friends at the tattoo parlor so they can witness your official transition into adulthood.
Finally Thoughts on 18th Birthday Ideas
Turning 18 is a huge milestone and something that so many people look forward to.
Stepping into adulthood for the first time is something that should be celebrated, and these gift and celebration ideas are sure to kick off your 18th year on a good note.
That’s a wrap. This article was all about 18th birthday ideas. Was the article helpful? Let us know in the comments and share the love on social media