Three homemade gifts that will guarantee happy tears on a 21st birthday

You made it. Your baby is turning 21. While they have been officially an adult for three years, they’re now no longer considered your dependent. And they can also now drink. Halp!

To make sure their big night has a civilized start, you’ve organized a party with their dearest (and possibly lesser known) friends. Tick.

But goodness knows what’s going to happen after that; once they’ve gone off into the big wide world (otherwise known as a club or casino) and their common sense somehow disappears (after too many ritual shots).

Make a photo collage for their 21st birthday party

How do you remain on their radar as a barometer of sense?

Well, you give them a gift to remember, so that when they’re regretting the drink that finally brings them over the edge they instinctively know to come back home where it’s safe and comfortable.

You’ve done everything within your means to bring your child up as an independent spirit, but how can you tell them home is where their heart is without embarrassing them in front of their friends?

21st Birthday celebrations offer a multitude of opportunities for sentimentality, but it takes some careful planning to make someone laugh and cry at the same time.

Not into speeches? Nevermind that. Here are three homemade gift ideas that will guarantee happy tears on a 21st birthday:

1. Dress up their old dolls or teddy bears in new outfitsDress an old toy in new clothes or make a photo collage of their childhood drawings.

Turning 21 doesn’t mean it’s time to throw out the toys. Anyone who’s seen Toy Story 3 knows that’s a recipe for disaster. However, regardless of whether your child’s toys are in the back of a closet or still pride of place on their bed, why not give them a coming of age party too?

Take their favorite teddy bear or tattered old doll, remove their old clothes and sew them a brand new grown up outfit.

When you present it to your grown up child, you don’t have to say a thing as they’ll be forced to share the story of Blue Bear or Silly Sally with their friends.

2. Make a photo collage of their old drawings

On their 21st birthday, make a photo collage of their old drawings.It won’t be long before they start going through all their old things and deciding whether to hoard or trash their belongings. If they’re not pursuing art, most of their artwork will no doubt make the trash pile. But all art is a snapshot into someone’s world, so gather together some pieces that represent their childhood journey and make a photo collage of their old drawings.

Some ideas include their first baby handprint; the Kindergarten painting that convinced you they were the next Picasso; the heartfelt ‘I Love You’ crayon drawing from the birthday card you kept; and the best of the dreadful graffiti art you found in their junior high diary.

Take high resolution scans or photographs of the artworks, create a custom canvas photo collage and you will gift a touching piece they’ll remember forever.

Order a large canvas print and bring it out on the night of the 21st party. Cover it up with cloth then perform a ritual reveal to your grown up (but not really grown up) child and their guests to all enjoy.

After that, your child will have trouble forgetting how much you mean to them.

3. Arrange a DVD mash up of home video footage

Source footage featuring your son or daughter from your own family videos and ask their friends for anything they too may have captured over the years.

Video editing software is getting easier and cheaper these day and it’s becoming simpler to mix together footage yourself. However, if you have neither the patience nor the savvy, find a friend or family member to help.

Your job, at the very least, is to watch the videos and find the sections you’d like to have appear in the DVD short film. A mix of still photos will also work, so spend some time sourcing those as well.

While it’s hilarious to include embarrassing moments of your child’s life, to provide true sentimentality, be sure to include touching family times that will create a lasting memory.

Create a home video with sentimental baby footage or make a photo collage

Buy a blank DVD box and, to complete the gift, create a professional-looking, custom DVD cover.

Screen the DVD on the night and present a copy to your child as a keepsake. Among the laughter, there won’t be a dry eye in the house.


Eli is Canvas Factory's resident blogger and social media buff. She has a passion for art, craft, design, fashion and photography. She loves to explore the joys and challenges of family life, relationships, motherhood and pet ownership. Eli finds it's more funny to poke fun at herself than others. She's travelled extensively and considers herself a citizen of the world.

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