While some societies have momentous coming of age ceremonies (boys in Papua New Guinea wear a conical hat draped in leaves which reach to below the waist), we in Britain stick to the tried and tested routine of opening 18th birthday gifts
in the morning, then spending the day in the pub getting merry.
But while that's fun, it's hardly original – and many of us do that every weekend, birthday or no birthday. If you want to be a bit more creative, there are all sorts of ideas for celebration themes which are entertaining, and they don't have to feel like a kid's party. Here are just a few ideas, along with some suggestions for suitably themed 18th birthday gifts
A country theme: There are a couple of ways to do this. One is the classic of picking a country and getting everyone to wear appropriate clothing and eat themed food and drink. For example, a Japanese theme could see guests dressed as sumo wrestlers and geisha girls, eating sushi and drinking sake.
Another twist is to do a global theme where every guest comes as a different country. You can even award prizes for whoever manages to wear the most different items relating to their chosen country. And to make things fun, challenge everyone to find 18th birthday Gifts
that relate to the country.
A celebrity theme: OK, so you might have been to quite a few parties where guests dress up as famous people, but there are other ways to do it. One is to limit it to celebrities and public figures from the year the birthday guest was born. Another is that everyone has to pick a famous person with the same first name as the birthday guest.
A Krypton Factor theme: Anyone receiving 18th birthday gifts
in the next couple of years should still remember this classic show hosted by Gordon Burns. You can adapt it into a day-long event with your own twists, and either make it a contest for everyone, or just a challenge for the person celebrating their birthday.
The mental agility, observation, intelligence and general knowledge rounds will probably be best during the evening when a few drinks will make them more challenging.
That leaves the co-ordination and physical ability rounds for the day time. If you don't have a flight simulator in your back garden, you could always pick one of the many flight-related 'experience day gifts
' on the market as one of the 18th birthday gifts.
A football theme: If the birthday boy or girl is football crazy, you could arrange a kick-about, go to a game, wear replica shirts or hold a soccer-based quiz. The beauty of this theme is there are dozens of suitable 18th birthday gifts based around football, so that's one less thing to worry about.
A tube station theme: Challenge guests to find a costume that relates to one of the London Underground stations. This might seem hard, but there are plenty of possibilities. You could come dressed as Paddington (Bear), Victoria (Queen or Victoria), All Saints or Grange Hill - or if you're really stuck, just sling on a West Ham shirt. If you live in London, you can make the birthday guest go on a station-based treasure hunt before they get all of their 18th birthday gifts
An £18 theme: Guests have to come in as stylish, fashionable and trendy a costume as they can put together. The only catch is that their entire outfit – from head to toe, including underwear and shoes – has to cost less than £18. It will challenge their creativity, and it leaves everyone a bit more cash for those all-important 18th birthday gifts
A casino theme: This has plenty of possibilities. You can serve Vegas-style cocktails, hold a buffet (though it's unlikely to be all you can eat), and play a variety of games, whether for cash, drinks or just forfeits for the losers. The dress code is up to you: you can theme it with the black and red of roulette, or go the whole hog with evening dresses and dinner suits – and don't forget that cufflinks make classy 18th birthday gifts.
A golf theme: This can be as simple as a night out dressed in polo shirts and plus-fours or something more elaborate. We don't recommend visiting 18 watering holes, but an 18-round quiz could make the day memorable – particularly if each round is about a year in the birthday guest's life. Lessons with a pro make great 18th Birthday gifts
A party themed around the year of birth: For those getting 18th birthday Gifts
in 2008, this gives you the chance to celebrate 1990 with a German-themed party to celebrate the country's re-unification, or a Russian-themed event to mark the Soviet Union's collapse.