What to Buy a 21 Year Old Child?

Updated on February 02, 2012
P.W. asks from Dallas, TX
24 answers

My son is turning 21 soon. I would like to give him something memorable. I am willing to spend as much as $500. I'm purposely not telling you much about him because I would like some general ideas. Got any?

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So What Happened?

Great ideas everyone. Thanks. You have given me a few things to think about. I want it to be memorable. So I won't just give him money. A concert or a plane ticket maybe. Thanks Again!

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answers from Chicago on

Great concert tickets to his favorite band
Plane tickets for some place he's always wanted to go
Tickets for great seats to his favorite team

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3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

How about a t-shirt quilt? Use his old sports teams t-shirts, or vacation tees. Themed quilts are fun. Maybe his favorite pro teams, music tees, etc. I think they mean more if you use his old tees.

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1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lansing on

LOL I first read this title " WANT to buy a 21 year old child?" Ha!

I was going to say Ipad, but looks like its been suggested. (However keep in mind I heard an ipad3 is in the works) Good luck!

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answers from Richmond on

Gift card to the liquor store ;)

On a more serious note (because I WAS bring serious about the gift card), my baby brother got a really, really nice watch for his 21st from our parents and LOVES IT!! I never would have guessed him to be a jewelry guy, but he can't say enough about his new watch!!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Considering he is in college and this is one of his last years, maybe a weekend trip for him and a friend where you pay for the hotel and gas - maybe they go to Austin for the weekend and make your 500 plus what they bring stretch?
If he is NOT in college and is on his own he may appreciate a new TV or gaming system if he is into that or an Apple product (iPod, iPad, iPhone etc.) but if you enjoy being practicle I would split the funds up into 100 cash for fun, 100gift card for Food, 100 gift card for gas, 100 gift card for auto tune up (jiffy lube or kwik car), 100 gift card for his guilty pleasure (starbucks, dunkin donuts, whataburger, movies), 100 gift card for a utility payment or something like that. I loved getting random gift cards from family when I was on my own to pay for a bill or something - I knew they were thinking of me and reminding me to be practical and have fun at the same time.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

My son has already requested a "guys" trip to Vegas! No moms allowed!

I took our daughter to San Antonio for the weekend. Her best friend flew in and as did my two best friends (mom of her best friend is my best friend! and then my other best friend. We had a blast!

A picture collage would be nice. A trip?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I found when my kids turned 21 all they wanted was to hang out with their friends so my gift was to respect that and not nag them to do family stuff. My son went to Vegas so I gave him money as a gift to offset his costs. My daughter, argh, I can't remember what she wanted but I got that and shipped it to her school.

Really 21 is not a family birthday, they are adults! It is all about cutting the strings.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My son turned 21 last June. He has everything and it is hard to surprise him. He rented the Presidential Suite at the hotel (?) at Reunion Tower in Dallas. I did buy drinks, food, cups, napkins, plates, etc. and help him set up for his party. He only invited....21 friends! We bought him 21 gifts and made cute little tags numbered 1 through 21 and taped them to each gift. Some of the gifts were just little things that he needed...he just got a new car so some of the gifts were related to that, cologne, an engraved necklace that looks like a dog tag and has a couple of diamonds on it (he wears it everyday!!!!), 21 gold $1.00 coins in a black pouch, lottery tickets, etc. The rest of the gifts were the generic bday stuff. We paid toward his party. Like I said, he has all the material things that he wants and he is a minimalist, so it is hard to buy for him!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Oh the big fun 21!!

Texas Motor Speedway has some deal where you can drive fast/fun cars.
Plane tickets
favorite sports team game tickets
Money of course.

Happy Birthday!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

Take him out for a beer.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I have to admit I half read this and thought it said When to buy a 21 year old child. LOL I laughed for a while...

I had same problem with my close nephew. Answers were all over the board. I think tickets, furniture, concerts... thats about it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

You mean 21 year old Adult, right?

Concert tickets
Game tickets
Favorite Team ticketes

Long lasting:

very nice watch that will last a long time through water sports
new laptop
Itunes card to go with the new laptop

Does he have a car? How about a nice, new stereo for his car? Or a Bose for his room?

If in college or on his own, then $$ is usually a huge help.

Spend time with him and take him shopping for whatever he needs.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I Pad if he dosn't already have one. A trip somewhere. A Laptop.

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answers from Washington DC on

Send him on a trip. For instance, if he is a baseball fan, send him to see his favorite team play in a great city. Pay for airfare and hotel and tickets. Might be more than $500. Or give him a marriott or hilton gift card tha the can use for any trip he wants. i WISH I had traveled more when I was 21!!!!.

Alternatively, get him golf clubs and lessons which is a great business skill. Or something similar.

Or if he is sentimental, a really nice watch or a leather business card holder or briefcase with his initials. Especially if he is going into the corporate world.

Assumning he is paying his own bills, maybe pay off something, like his next 3 car payments or his cell phone bill.

An iPad!!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Stationed Overseas on

What about tickets to the super bowl? I know that would be memorable. That is if he's into football lol.



answers from Birmingham on

For my son, his best gift would be to the local guitar center. He loves a variety of musical pieces and would have been thrilled to be able to go shopping for a new one that I could have never picked out for him alone. Some folks insist on buying something in particular when in fact a gift card to a fav place is best at that age so they can get exactly what they want. Mountain High Outfitters would be a top place for our son (21 too) also since he loves camping and outdoor sports.



answers from Norfolk on

I vote for a trip to Las Vegas. the $500 could be for the hotel/food, etc. or for gambling. I think Las Vegas is truly an awesome place to be welcomed into the real "grown up" world!!



answers from Pittsburgh on

Plane ticket to somewhere he'd like to go?



answers from Dallas on

GIft certificate for Southwest Airlines.



answers from St. Louis on

any piece of jewelry.

my son requested a tattoo to add to his collection...which he designed. Tat for graduation, tat for 21st....yep, a tat for each milestone. :)

In other words, find something which "speaks" to him.....

OH, & my Mom gave him the trip of a lifetime: they toured the West for 3 weeks....Oklahoma, Texas, N. Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, N/S Dakota...hit the Rockies, the Tetons, the Badlands, the Grand Canyon, & even Las Vegas - & more!

Make it memorable!


answers from Houston on

I would get him a hotel suite in a rocking part of Dallas (so they won't have to drink and drive) and let him invite his pals. I would, however, get a room wayy down the hall for before the cops show up... :) You can monitor the sounds and text him to quiet down!

As the mom of a 22 year old--yes, I agree. He is is still your ChILD! Loved it!



answers from Denver on

At 21 and I lived on my own - a $500 gift card to the local grocery store or gas station. :)

But I guess that isn't really memorable.



answers from Las Vegas on

it's been my experience that young adults that age usually prefer to receive money. this way, they can buy what they want/need and or add the funds to their savings (for some, that means saving up for a car)

well good luck in whatever you decide..



answers from Kansas City on

I love the thought of concert tickets!

Not that I'm condoning drinking, and don't want to assume your son does, but it is a milestone birthday to many because they can drink legally.
We gave our son 21 different/unique bottle openers for his 21st birthday last year. There was an inside family joke behind it, but he thought it was hysterical and couldn't wait to see what the next one looked like.

Next question: What to Get My Daughter for Her 21St Birthday?