Students find new ways to ring in 21st birthdays during pandemic

Media Credit: Sabrina Godin | Assistant Photo Editor

For many students, their 21st birthday is a big milestone. Find out how some students celebrated the event in quarantine this year.

Senior Erin Grossmann was planning to hit the club on her 21st birthday in May, but the COVID-19 pandemic threw her plans out.

Instead, she invited 20 of her friends to a birthday party on Zoom, where they answered Kahoot questions about Grossmann like ‘What cocktail would Erin NOT drink?’ She said while it was nice to see her friends, the party lasted about 45 minutes because it was difficult to keep her friends engaged. 

Grossmann is one of hundreds of juniors and seniors who recreated the club scene in their backyard, living room and on Zoom to celebrate their first year of legal drinking. Students said the unexpected twist to their birthday allowed them to get creative with parties, hosting small get-togethers and setting up makeshift bars in their home.

“It wasn’t obviously the one I wanted, but I think people really made an effort to make it special,” Grossman said.

Club in the living room
Senior Lindsey Kalamasz was close to accepting the boring fate of her birthday when her roommates surprised her with a lively “club” in the living room of her home in D.C.

At midnight on the day of her birthday in May, she said her two roommates coaxed her into her living room, which was transformed into a full bar complete with drinks like mojitos and margaritas. They hung a 21st birthday sign across the room, and a roommate pretended to be a bouncer and checked her ID, she said.

“I knew we were going to do something [to celebrate] but I didn’t really realize what they had planned, they were being secretive and sketchy,” she said.

Beer in the basement
Senior Olivia Eckstein spent 14 days quarantining in her boyfriend’s home after a spring break trip to Mexico in March. One of those days just happened to be her 21st birthday.

Eckstein said she put on one of her favorite dresses and waited until midnight to FaceTime her family. Eckstein said her boyfriend’s mom baked the couple a chocolate cake and left it at the top of the stairs, and she drank a beer to mark the occasion.

“We really had no contact with anyone,” she said.

Italian cuisine and alcoholic drinks
Senior Sam Rivere celebrated his 21st with Italian food and drinks at his new off-campus residence in Adams Morgan last month.

Rivere added that while he drank his father’s gift of Fireball whiskey, turning 21 is “overrated” because most college students have already been drinking since freshman year. Had the pandemic not halted plans, Rivere said that he would have invited friends to a “drunch,” a brunch complete with mimosas.

“I was just happy to spend the time with my friends, my parents and my girlfriend,” he said. “That’s what really matters.”

A low-key night in 
Senior Liz Irons isn’t “much of a drinker” and didn’t have big plans for her birthday, but her friends and family compensated with cake and appetizers.

Irons said she was visiting her friend in D.C. for the three weeks around her birthday last month. She said her mom delivered a cake to her friend’s place, and they went to another apartment to celebrate later that day with carrot cake cupcakes, a charcuterie board and a couple of drinks.

Irons added that she discovered she likes the taste of whiskey on her birthday when her friend whipped up an Old Fashioned for her.

“I didn’t expect to like whiskey in any way, but I did like it,” she said. “So that was something I learned from my 21st.”

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.