How to Make a 21st Birthday Shot Book

By Andrew Lisa ; Updated September 15, 2017
Friends celebrating a birthday party.

For many young people, their 21st birthday represents the entrance into true adulthood and the gateway to legal drinking. To celebrate this milestone, a party is sometimes accompanied by a traditional challenge to consume as many shots of alcohol as years lived -- 21. This quest can be documented by a special scrapbook that chronicles the reveler's voyage toward consuming their age in ounces of alcohol, which can sometimes last the entire day.

Prepare Before the Party

First, you'll need a blank scrapbook or photo book with at least 21 pages. Shot books are traditionally decorated beforehand according to the style and personality of the birthday girl or boy and participating friends. It is, however, important to leave some blank space to accumulate souvenirs, keepsakes, autographs, witness statements and most importantly, pictures that will be taken throughout the night documenting the circumstances surrounding each individual shot.

Include Vital Information

The purpose of a shot book is to chronicle the events of the party with the shots as contextual focal points. Although every shot book should be unique, there are some universal elements that every shot book should contain. These include the time and place that the shot was taken, the ingredients and the name of the person who purchased the shot. Finally, a picture should document the honoree drinking the shot, which will be placed in the book later with the corresponding information.

Add Background Context

To personalize the shot book even further, elements from the honoree's past can be added as a timeline for context. Some books include a photo from each year of the guest of honor's life. For example, an infant picture corresponds with short No. 1 and a 7th-grade picture with shot No.12. In other cases, shot books have featured pictures of past boyfriends or girlfriends, life phases and changes in style or taste. Again, it is important not to clutter the book so much that there isn't sufficient room to improvise throughout the night.

Designate a Friend

Someone who drinks 21 shots can't be expected to retain control over the duties of maintaining the shot book throughout the night. Dedicate a responsible friend or group of friends -- perhaps the designated driver-- who will be able to keep the shot book safe and accurately updated throughout. Also, devise a plan in advance about what to do with the unfinished pages in the likelihood that the challenge isn't fully met.

Be Safe, Be Smart

According to the Mayo Clinic, the average human body can process one shot of 80 proof -- 40 percent alcohol -- liquor in one hour. Alcohol poisoning can affect breathing, heart rate and body temperature, potentially leading to serious illness or even death. For the overwhelming majority of people, it would only be feasible to consume 21 shots if they were spaced out over a long period of time, consisted of liquor weakened with mixers or both.

About the Author

Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. A graduate of Hofstra University, he was a section editor for "amNewYork", the most widely distributed paper in Manhattan. He was a nationally syndicated columnist with Gannett News Service, the largest news syndicate in the country, and works as a writer in Los Angeles.