Jersey Bites, an online smorgasbord of restaurant reviews, recipes and food blogging for the Garden State, turns seven on Thursday. To celebrate, founder and social media maven extraordinaire Deborah Smith is throwing her site a birthday party — on Facebook. Over the course of the day, Jersey Bites will give out $850 worth of prizes, donated by restaurants, bars, bakeries and in one case a vineyard. The hourly prizes will be drawn randomly from entries by readers who like the donors’ Facebook pages and report back.

Smith with cake“Everybody’s very excited about it,” Smith says. “I think it’s something new. We have a really engaged audience.”

In her inaugural blog post, back in 2007, Smith modestly described herself as just an “average, everyday cook” who liked to pass on recipes.

To me cooking makes a house a home. I love the smells wafting through the house. I love a lot of people hanging in my kitchen, nibling and talking the night away. And to my two boys , I think the kitchen, cooking and Mom all mix together into one warm, safe, loving bundle. I hope they grow up and remember fondly Mom in the kitchen working on something yummy to eat. Right now they’re too young to appreciate it and will hardly try most of what I make let alone finish their plates. But, I have faith that when they grow to be big, burly, hungry teens, Mom’s talent will not go unappreciated.

Yes, the boys are now burly teenagers. And since that long ago September, Smith has learned a lot more than how to make Damn Good Baby Back Ribs.

“Jersey Bites and I, we’ve both grown up together,” Smith says. “We’ve been hacked three times. Learning how to sell advertising. Having a failed attempt at starting a deals site — and bouncing back. Every single day, I am just amazed at all the response I get and all the loyalty.”

Along the way she also taught herself social media, and shared those lessons with the NJ News Commons last year.

So study up, online news sites. This is how to throw a birthday party online. And be sure to spread the hashtag of the day, #HappyBdayJerseyBites.