R+B star Ashanti's small birthday meal to celebrate turning 25 morphed into a huge party last week (ends14OCT05), when 500 of her closets friends arrived to surprise her.

The singer's boyfriend Nelly, rap mogul SEAN 'DIDDY' COMBS, supermodel Naomi Campbell and Ja Rule were among the hordes of well-wishers who crowded New York City hot-spot Glo.

A source says, "It was a complete surprise for her. Her family told her to dress up because they were going to take her to dinner like they do every year."

But before heading out, they told Ashanti they had to make one quick stop, pulling up at Glo, where an entire club of pals waited.

Ashanti and her guests sipped cocktails before devouring eight Coldstone Creamery ice-cream cakes.