Students Find a Way to Celebrate 21st Birthday During a Pandemic

When Matt Cavadas turned 21 on April 25, 2020 he would have liked to go to the bars with his friends for the first time but instead, the Penn State student celebrated at home with his family, because of COVID restrictions during the pandemic.

“I was looking forward to going to the bars for the first time with all of my friends but I ended up not being able to go out at all,” said Cavadas.

“My mom made me and my family a steak dinner and we had cake,” said Cavadas.

Students who had birthdays during the pandemic said it allowed them to be creative with planning parties to celebrate. There were limited options to celebrate that first legal drink but the at home clubs, chill family celebrations, and zoom parties slightly made up for the loss.

Cavadas in the middle

“Even though I didn’t get to go out with my friends the night of my birthday they did throw me a little surprise the next day which really caught me off guard,” said Cavadas.

His friends planned a drive by parade and all drove by his house honking their horns and wishing him a happy birthday.

Students like Cavadas shared their experience with turning 21 during a pandemic.

Brianna Milnik, a Penn State senior was planning on going to the bar on her 21st birthday in May, but the pandemic changed that.

Instead, she invited 10 of her friends to a virtual birthday party on zoom. They played drinking games like Picolo and Battle shots. She said although she had fun and was glad to see her friends the virtual party only lasted an hour because it was hard to have a party over zoom.

Milnik in the middle

“It wasn’t anything like I expected my 21st to be like, but I still had a lot of fun and my friends made an effort to make it as special as it could be considering the circumstances,” Milnik said.

Her friends said they had a lot of fun being able to hang out with Milnik on her birthday even if it was only over zoom.

“I was just happy we all got to sort of be together and celebrate her 21st birthday it was a lot of fun for a party over zoom,” said Jessica Kerr

Donna Roberts, a Penn State senior was planning on going to clubs and bars to celebrate her 21st birthday in June, but the pandemic forced her to cancel her plans.

Roberts accepted the fact that she was going to be sitting at home on her birthday but little did she know her roommates had other plans.

“There is no way we going to allow her to sit at home on her 21st birthday we really wanted to do something special for her and make her birthday as real as we could,” said Emily Ford.

Roberts roommates surprised her by decorating their apartment into a club. They transformed the kitchen into a bar and went as far as having a pretend bouncer who checked her ID at the door.


“I had a feeling they were going to do something but I did not expect them to turn our living room into a club. It was honestly so much fun I was so surprised,” said Roberts.

The students said missing the traditional 21st birthday was disheartening for them but the alternative celebrations worked out and they were still able to have a fun time.

“I really appreciate my friends for making my birthday so fun and just making me feel special despite being stuck inside,” said Roberts.

All of these students who had to celebrate during a pandemic said they are thankful for their friends and family and all they did to help make the day special.

“I didn’t ever expect to have a birthday party over zoom let along get drunk with my friends over a zoom meeting but it ended up being a really good time and I’m thankful I got to spend it with my friends,” said Milnik.

These students said they hope to celebrate their next birthday out at the bars and clubs with their friends and hope to make up for their missed-out bar experience on their 21st birthday.

“I feel like the whole year of me turning 21 is a celebration because I am going to be experiencing a lot of things for the first time,” said Milnik.