How did you celebrate your 21st birthday? Because if the answer isn’t documenting your night at Tao Las Vegas on a Canon digital camera and posing with an elaborately decorated fondant cake in the shape of a roulette table, I frankly don’t! know! what! you! were! doing!
Fortunately, though, you can always live vicariously through several dozen celebrities celebrating their 21st birthdays, mostly in the aughts (meaning some truly alarming fashion is coming your way), always with giant cakes and sparklers, and often featuring Paris Hilton, reigning Queen of 21st Birthday Parties.
But just some quick helpful 21st birthday party facts before we get started: If you’re wondering why celebs celebrated their birthdays in public in front of cameras back in the day, most of these photos were taken before Instagram was a thing. Or, more specifically, before Instagram sponcon was a thing. Meaning, instead of endorsing random toothbrush brands and protein powders, celebrities spent their time getting paid to host parties that would then get covered in the media and give a ton of exposure to the venue of their choice. It was a wild time!
On that note, come for some truly glorious pics of celebs wearing casual plastic tiaras, and stay for some throwback gems—including some 21st birthdays from Old Hollywood. Because, yep, turns out famous people have been going all out for their big day in the name of publicity for a while now (hi, Sophia Loren).