The Real Housewives of New Jersey
star had a gathering of 75 loved ones at the Blu Alehouse restaurant in Riverdale, New Jersey, on Monday night, ahead of his upcoming prison stint. Joe is expected to turn himself in on Wednesday to begin his 41-month sentence
Joe, 43, rented out the back area of the restaurant, where his guests were treated to a buffet of chicken, pasta, and steak, a source tells ET. A mechanical bull was also brought out halfway through the party, which both Joe and his wife, Teresa Giudice, rode -- at one point, together -- as well as their four daughters, Audriana, Gabriella, Gia, and Milania.
"It was a very light and fun night," the source says about the party. "Everyone was laughing and joking. There were a lot of kids running around -- everyone brought their kids."
"It was very low-key, private and a lot of fun."
Guests included Joe's brother-in-law, Joseph Gorga, and Joseph's wife, fellow Real Housewives of New Jersey star Melissa Gorga. All guests were good friends that the Giudices have known for years, and no professional Bravo cameras or microphones were present, the source says. Not surprisingly, as the party wrapped up around 11:30 p.m., the mood of the party turned much more "emotional."
"There were tears, laughter, joking, a lot of hugs," the source says. "People were crying when they were saying goodbye to him. There was no one that wasn't invited there. No fans or press. It was small and intimate."
However, Joe kept up an upbeat attitude throughout the night, despite the somber reason for the party.
"Joe was laughing and happy for most of the night," the source says. "No speeches."
Joe and Teresa were convicted of several fraud charges
in October 2014, including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and bankruptcy fraud. The couple was allowed to serve time separately, so that one of them could be home to take care of their children.
"I think that's the easy part -- going to jail," Joe said. "I think it's what they put you through before you go. As you know, they try to mentally and physically break you down, you know what I mean? So that's I think the hardest part of everything. I think going to jail is the easy part."
"I'm going to miss sleeping with him at night and cuddling with him," Teresa added. "I mean, he keeps me warm."