The Best 18th Birthday Gift Ideas for the Young Adult in Your Life

Of all the major birthday milestones, none may be more significant than turning 18. This is especially true in the United States and other countries where 18 is recognized as the “official” dividing line between childhood and adulthood. Science tells us that, in terms of brain development, this isn’t as hard and fast a dividing line as we might be led to think. Some 18-year-olds are fully prepared to take on the world, make reasonable adult decisions, and see through the nonsense that will inevitably show up and distract them from their responsibilities. Others are…not so fortunate. But none of that changes the fact that, in society’s eyes, an 18-year-old is an adult. For that reason alone, this is an important and meaningful birthday.

So let’s celebrate!

Special Ways to Celebrate an 18th Birthday

There are so many wonderful ways to celebrate a friend or family member who is turning the big one-eight. Obviously, you should let your knowledge of the person’s individual personality be your primary guide when planning a party. Do they enjoy big bashes with lots of friends? Or are they more the “quiet type,” and more inclined to enjoy an evening with only their closest buds? This distinction alone can be a powerful pointer toward the right idea. If you’re still having trouble coming up with a unique celebratory idea, don’t panic – we’ve come up with a few that can give you the inspiration you need:

Visit An Escape Room – Escape rooms are all the rage these days. A party of a certain size enters a room and the administrators lock you inside. It’s then up to you and your cohorts to figure out a series of mysterious clues. If you can do so before the time limit expires, you’ll discover the key to your room and the goal will be yours! These experiences are fun for anyone, but they make for an especially enjoyable experience for anyone who likes mystery novels or video games that involve solving puzzles to move forward.

Smash Stuff – Aside from escape rooms, there is another kind of room that’s been getting attention in recent years. It is the smash room, and it lives up to its name. If you have one nearby, it could make for a terrific birthday celebration. Once inside, customers can use baseball bats, golf clubs, and sledgehammers to destroy whatever is in the room. Ever want to take a printer and throw it full-force at the nearest wall? At a smash room, you can do just that. If you know an 18-year-old who needs an outlet for their aggression, we can hardly think of a better idea.

An Upscale Dinner Party – We tend to think of teens as a group, and our preconceived ideas can obscure the actual person, who is just as much an individual as anyone of any age. Some teens who are getting ready to turn 18 are more sophisticated than the majority of 50-year-olds out there. Others are barely more than children. Like we said before, know your audience. If the newly minted 18-year-old in your life enjoys the finer side of life, treat them to a dinner at an upscale restaurant that they might not typically be able to afford. It’ll be a nice change of pace for everyone!

Spa Day – This is more likely to be received well by a young woman than by a man, but (as we’re reiterating for the third time) your mileage may differ. Some guys are all about relaxation, massage, and beauty treatments. Some girls would rather jump off the nearest cliff than subject themselves to a day filled with mud baths and unusual facials. If you can match this celebration with the right individual, though, it will be a day to remember.

A Simple Birthday Party at Home – For some teens, this will be more than enough. Not everyone wants the attention that a full-scale party brings. Some young adults would rather just eat some cake, ice cream, and pizza with their family and maybe a couple of close friends. Remember, your celebration idea should always be focused on what THEY want, not what you think they should want. If you can keep that rule in mind, any celebration you plan will be right on target.

Now then, what will you give the birthday boy or girl on the big day? Well, let’s get into the list and see if we can’t come up with some inspiration!

11 – Bubble Bath

Let’s face it – you don’t realize until later in life how important it is to just chill out and relax at the end of a stressful day. Some kids learn it earlier than others, however, and they may find that there is no better way to let their cares float away than to indulge in a nice, hot bubble bath. If you know that your intended gift recipient likes to unwind in style, consider getting them a beautiful bubble bath gift basket. It will include all of the lotions, oils, and soaps they need to turn off their minds after work and remember the good things in life.

10 – A Pocket Knife

Normally, we would reserve this gift recommendation for someone a bit younger than 18, but hey, better late than never! If you know a soon-to-be-18-year-old who has never known the joy of carrying a useful pocket knife, now is the time to remedy that situation. Many people, upon finding a use for their knife for the first time, find that they never want to leave home without it. Maybe that will be the case with the one you buy as a gift! And listen, if you don’t know much about pocket knives, we just happen to have the perfect article for you to check out.

9 – Cordless Earbuds

With their latest round of devices, Apple did away with the headphone jack and left many new users with no immediate way to use all of those corded headphones they have lying around. That was rude! Of course, the idea was to shuffle customers over to their special Apple Airpods, which work without a cord. But you don’t necessarily have to buy expensive Airpods to give the teen in your life a path back to their music. Many other sound companies have released earbuds that work in the same way…and once you get away from that bothersome cord, you may just find you don’t want to go back. Er, we mean the gift recipient won’t want to go back. The gift recipient.

8 – A Great Self-Help Book

Do you have a book of wisdom that has given you comfort and solace throughout your life? Now is the time to pay it forward. Not everyone will resonate with the same book, of course, but the chances are good that the book that helped you through tough times will do just the same for someone else. Classic options include Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (and other Stoic texts), the Tao Te Ching, and The Art of War. Today’s writers offer even more options – people find inspiration in the books of Eckhart Tolle, Jordan Peterson, Tony Robbins, and many more.

7 – A Hard-To-Kill Indoor Plant

If your gift recipient is soon to be headed off to college, they’ll likely have to share a (very) small dorm room with a stranger. This is an uncomfortable situation for even the most outgoing, gregarious young person, so it’s always nice to have something simple and full of life to remind you that everything is going to be okay. We recommend a little indoor plant. Snake plants, pothos, and aloe vera are but a few examples out of many. Just make sure the plant can make do with low sunlight and that it can survive a forgotten watering or two. You may think that the last thing a young adult needs is an added responsibility, but a plant like this won’t add very much to their burden.

6 – A Personalized Pillow

Every teen headed to college needs something special, unique, and personal to bring with them. They may want to take the family dog, but the dorm monitor is unlikely to approve of Fido’s late-night barking. That’s where you come in. When you give them a personalized pillow that’s bright, colorful, and tailored to their identity, you’ve given them that little piece of home that is so important when you’re out on your own for the first time. Recent studies have shown that today’s college students are more stressed and less happy than any generation in living memory. You can’t solve all of those problems yourself, but you can at least give the college student in your life something soft and welcoming to come home to.

5 – Virtual Reality

Video games and the like used to be thought of as the stuff of children – you weren’t supposed to still be playing Nintendo when you were in your mid-twenties. Well, things have changed. A lot. These days, the word “gamer” could just as well apply to a 14-year-old with a PlayStation as a 70-year-old who loves to play hidden object games on her laptop. The hot new thing in video games is, of course, virtual reality. The really good headsets aren’t cheap, but if you have the money to spend on a memorable gift, any gaming 18-year-old would appreciate an Oculus or a Valve Index.

4 – An Arcade Machine

Not everyone who is 17-going-on-18 likes the same video games. Some want to immerse themselves in the MMORPGs that span galaxies and worlds. Others want to play first-person shooters that make them feel as if they were going into war. But some young adults like the video games of yesteryear best. Luckily, with new direct-to-home arcade machines, there is no better time to defeat Donkey Kong and save the princess. Companies like AtGames and Arcade1Up have come up with ingenious machines that are packed with classic titles like Pac-man and Frogger. It could be just the right gift for the kid who loves everything “retro” in life.

3 – Adult Card Games

Games like Cards Against Humanity, Exploding Kittens, and others are practically standard-issue, mandatory products for young adults. Whether the 18-year-old in your life is going to college or moving into a big home with their friends, they’re going to need some stuff to do for fun. And we can tell you from experience, these games can be a LOT of fun with the right crowd. Many of these games are not for the prudish or the squeamish, but there are also some that are appropriate for family play as well as a night in with the boys.

2 – Metal Model Kits

If the birthday boy or girl enjoys sitting quietly in their room, messing about with small, personal projects, they are sure to love these metal model kits. Sold most prominently by a company called Metal Earth, these kits come in a small envelope. Inside the envelope is a metal sheet or two. You punch out all of the component parts and then you get to work putting them together. These kits are challenging, and they are sure to be frustrating for anyone with the patience or hand-eye coordination needed. But if you can match this gift with the right recipient, it’ll be a home run.

1 – “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss

You might not think that Dr. Seuss would go hand in hand with an 18th birthday party, but this book in particular has been a perennial favorite for anyone moving on to bigger and better things. Chances are solid that the 18-year-old in your life is headed off to school or otherwise looking to start their adult life. Oh, the Places You’ll Go is filled with the kind of optimistic cheer they need as they get started on their grand adventure. Highly recommended!

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