Growing up, birthdays always warranted a big celebration. I’ve never been able to shake the tradition, but unlike my mom, I often leave the planning to the last minute. This year, I attempted to reserve a table at a wine bar down the street but called a week too late. Luckily, I was able to score an alcove at Copa d’Oro, just 3.5 blocks from my apartment. Even better, all of my nearest and dearest LA friends came out to party.

The boy went out in the rain to pick up dinner, while Rachel, Julia and I got ready with a glass of wine, fake lashes and curling irons. We got to the bar 20 minutes late but were the first of the group to arrive, so I’ll consider that a success!

Copa d’Oro makes drinks with really fresh and interesting ingredients, and I was completely obsessed with the rum and jalapeño concoction I ordered. Called King de Bahia, the drink also had elderflower liqueur and passionfruit. It was sweet and spicy at the same time and perfect for sipping. Of course, it didn’t taste booze-y but the jalapeño kept me from drinking these like water.

Becky finagled her flight from NYC so she could make it in time. She and Katie Jo arrived with Mandy, Angie and Dani in tow!

Steph and her boyfriend made the trek down from Loma Linda and crashed with Lindsay so they wouldn’t have to drive back late at night. I haven’t seen Stephanie much since she moved and I’ve missed her sweet face!

Lindsay brought 24 mini cupcakes from Vanilla Bake Shop. They were super moist and delicious…although my favorite part was the icing!

Even though there is a DJ on the weekends, the bar isn’t typically a dance spot. I don’t know who passed along the memo that it was my birthday, but the music was 100% dance music for most of the night, and since we had our own little section, there was even room to move. My favorite was probably Fat Joe’s “Lean Back,” where I got sandwiched in the middle of the circle. From the looks on our faces, you can tell we thought this was wildly entertaining.

Not one to miss a birthday night out, my former coworker made an appearance after he got off work, and Winston and Chase came by after celebrating not one but two birthdays at parties just before mine. Yup, they’re impressive!

We rounded out the night at Swingers, with six of us making it to last call. Well, the six of us were able to walk to the bar, diner, and straight into our beds, so that might have been a big factor. Swingers is a funky diner in Santa Monica; there is a Norm’s and a Denny’s (all-night breakfast spots) only one block away, yet Swingers always has a wait. It’s just 8 million times better!

I mean, you can’t get Tazo tea and avocado toast at 3AM just anywhere, you know?

Of course, if you want french toast, grilled cheese or french fries, you can certainly get those too! No chicken fingers though…isn’t that strange? If you’d like a turkey burger, ahi sandwich, or tofu sauté though, you’re in luck.

I love how there’s something about birthdays that just brings everyone together. This year, I was reminded that I’m so lucky to have an amazing boyfriend who will babysit my new camera and take 200+ photos to boot.

And I’m lucky 10 times over to have such wonderful girlfriends, my sister included, who will make sure my birthday is extra special.

Also, I love that no one bat an eye at my tiara. Or at the fact that I bought a back up tiara. What can I say? I was born this way!