The year you turn 21 is going to be an eventful one. 21st birthdays are a big deal in Singapore, and chances are you’ll be invited to a whole bunch of birthday bashes to celebrate your friends finally being old enough to watch R(A) movies in the cinema without having to avoid the ushers.

Of course, we can’t all be original, and the most popular 21st birthday parties tend to get repeated ad nausea. One of the biggest clichés used to be the East Coast chalet birthday party, which has changed only by virtue of the fact that the East Coast chalets have now closed down. Then there’s the reserved table at Zouk where everyone’s main objective is to get plastered.

The main problem is that all of the above cost money. But due to the fact that most Singaporeans have limited space at home and, more importantly, parents lurking around the corner, wild house parties are often out of the question.

How then do you have a 21st birthday party that satisfies the following three requirements:

  • a private space for you and your guests
  • somewhere that can accommodate possibly rowdy 21-year-olds, and
  • food, drinks and copious alcohol, if that’s what you want

Here are three ideas that satisfy all of the above without breaking the bank.

1. Picnic

Drinking in public is still legal so long as it takes place before 10:30pm, and let’s be honest, people do it after, too, just more discretely.

A birthday picnic is probably the cheapest way to organise a party, and given the increased popularity of picnics in general amongst young Singaporeans these days (just look at the crowds at the Botanic Gardens on weekend afternoons and you might think you were on the MRT), this is one event that your friends will know how to handle.

There are now more parks and public spaces that can accommodate picnics than ever, and all food and drinks can be bought ahead of time at supermarket prices. Apart from the usual Gardens by the Bay and Botanic Gardens, there are some great town parks like Toa Payoh and Bukit Batok that you might want to consider; bonus points if you and your friends all live in the area.

2. Barbecue

Having a barbecue is another budget option. If you or a friend lives at a condo with barbecue pits you can use, you have the perfect excuse to throw a pool party.

Considering the fact that most new condos in Singapore have communal areas that look like Ibiza resorts (to distract buyers from the fact that units are shrinking to pea-sized proportions), your birthday party has the potential to be quite luxurious.

If you don’t want to hold your barbecue at home, head to a public space like Paris Ris Park, where you can pitch a tent, string up a hammock and invite that friend who’s always carrying around his ukulele to impress girls.

All you have to do is apply for a liquor consumption permit, book the barbecue pit and, if you want to do a spot of camping too, apply for camping permit.

3. KTV

If your first choice was to book a table at Zouk and get everyone drunk but you realised you won’t have that kind of money even when you turn 31, turn to KTV instead.

KTV lounges are some of the cheaper ways to get a private room, and alcohol prices also tend to be fairly affordable if you know where to go. Plus, the entire drill of choosing your songs and then doing your best imitation of Jay Chou tends to take care of the entertainment bit.

For instance, Manekineko at *SCAPE offers a free flow of (non-alcoholic) drinks and popcorn, while the last time I checked a half-pint of beer was only about $5.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should just rock up to a random KTV joint on any given day without first doing your research. Elsewhere on MoneySmart, we covered some of the more affordable places to get your KTV fix.

Remember that KTV is a lot cheaper on weekday afternoons (perfect if you and your friends are students). Better grab the chance to sing cheaply while you’re still young enough, as chances are you won’t be able to do the same when you’re celebrating the big 3-0.

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