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Shots, Shots, Shots

'Shot book' becomes trend for 21st birthdays

  • Smith looks through a shot book that her sorority sisters gave her for her 21st birthday. Each page was personalized with a place to record each drink she had that evening. (Will Austin)
  • A margarita sits in front of Kelly Smith,* junior, on her 21st birthday earlier this month. Smith’s birthday celebration began at Applebee’s with her sorority sisters and some other friends.

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In the United States, there are a handful of birthdays that every young man or woman looks forward to. At 16, you get your first car. At 18 years old, you’re legal to smoke, buy lottery tickets, and vote. And at 21, you can legally drink.

For most college students, it’s the latter that is the most exciting – the opportunity to go out to the bars and drink with your friends is overwhelming. For some people, the night of the 21st birthday gives invitation for a little bit of creativity.

“I think it’s a really fun, unique 21st birthday gift,” said new 21-year-old Kelly Smith,* a junior at Emporia State. “I think it’s just your own creativity and it’s like scrapbooking. I think it maybe brings them (friends) closer together like it shows them, ‘Hey, I love you. Look, I made you this great thing. Look at how many friends you’ve got, like we all love you so much.’”

A relatively new phenomenon that has become popular with college women, the 21 Shot Book gives young women (and men, if they so choose) the chance to create essentially a scrapbook of birthday girl’s 21st night. Each page requires a few specific things – what the shot was, where the shot was bought and what time, who bought the shot for the birthday girl and a line for her to sign at the end of the drink.

“There were a couple pages with dares in them. I did not do the dares because they made me uncomfortable, but there were pages with dares in them,” Smith said. “There were ones that were like, ‘Kiss the next guy that you see that you don’t know.’ There was one that was, ‘Get some random guy’s phone number.’ Stuff like that. I did have some friends that took the shots with me, like whoever bought the shot with me. If they were of-age, for the most, part they would take the shot with me.”

Smith’s shot book was a surprise from her best friends. The pages filled with pictures and memories of them together. Her first drink of the night on her birthday – last week – was at Applebee’s. She had what she described as the “perfect margarita.”

Pinterest has been one of the most prominent ways to gather ideas and inspiration for the perfect shot book – covers that say ‘Hot Mess Express’ or ‘Keep Calm and Drink On,’ as well as pages with the verse ‘Hakuna Some Vodka’ seem to be fairly popular ones. Many of the pages feature animal print and glitter – a crafting staple among many sororities.

Molly Love,* a senior at ESU, had a shot book put together by friends for her 21st last April.

“I really didn’t have any say in it. Tasha pretty much took it on as her responsibility as my friend. It was going to be kind of her gift to me, to put it all together and get my friends to participate in it,” said Lane. “(I did end up taking 21 shots), and 20 more. The way it turned out, I thought it was a good decision, because it got all my friends together and actually had a purpose of being there. I thought it went well.”

Lane did as Smith did and tagged some of her friends in throughout the night to take shots with her. Her favorite shot of the birthday night was the Jaeger Bomb; the weirdest – the Scooby Snack, a mix of pineapple juice, Midori, Malibu, and banana vodka.

Though the 21 birthday has a tendency of being associated with extreme binge drinking – as we’ve seen in such films as “21 and Over” – Lane doesn’t think it necessarily promotes an unhealthy drinking habit.

“I think it depends on the person. Like I can obviously handle myself when I do this stuff, because I’ve had lots of experience, and I know what to look out for and what the dangers are,”  Lane said. “But if it’s some naïve little girl who’s never drank before and it’s her first time drinking on her 21st birthday, this is probably not a good idea. Because she’s probably going to have alcohol poisoning by like the seventh shot. But, I am a beast.”

*names have been changed

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The student news site of Emporia State University.
Shots, Shots, Shots