July 25, 2005 12:00 PM

She may have hit the quarter-century mark, but Jessica Simpson is still not too old to be snookered by there-lighting birthday candle trick. As 150 guests—including Jake Gyllenhaal, Wilmer Valderrama, Mandy Moore, Eva Mendes and little sis Ashlee—looked on, Simpson kept huffing and puffing (evoking peals of laughter from the crowd) until she finally managed to extinguish the stubborn flames. “She’s full of hot air, but even all of her wind couldn’t blow them out,” jokes husband Nick Lachey. Then she put her lips to even better use—kissing Lachey right next to the red-velvet Betty Boop cake.

The party, which took place on July 9 at mom and dad Simpson’s Encino, Calif., estate, featured a hilltop lounge area where guests enjoyed a bird’s-eye view of the festivities below. “The entire night was perfect,” says Simpson. “I’m still smiling!”

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