For those suburbanites still scrambling to finish last-minute Christmas preparations, making plans for another holiday isn't likely to be at the top of their minds.
But New Year's Eve is just a week away, and for this holiday, it pays to think ahead.
The good news is that there are loads of opportunities in the city and suburbs to welcome 2011 in style, from comedy shows to live music to special events for children. And you can always find a restaurant or hotel bash.
Act fast, though. Many New Year's Eve events sell out, and restaurants book early. You don't want to be caught with nothing to do on Dec. 31, right?
So grab a noisemaker, put on your party hat and take a look at these options for New Year's Eve.
Laugh it up
Hey, after all the grim stuff that's been in the news the past year -- unemployment, attempted terrorist attacks, Justin Bieber -- we could all use a good laugh. And New Year's Eve is the perfect time. Here's what's on tap, comedy-wise:
• Two touring companies of the famed Chicago sketch-comedy troupe The Second City wrap up suburban holiday shows on New Year's Eve. First, squeeze out any remaining holiday-season sarcasm in The Second City's "Dysfunctional Holiday Revue" via Noble Fool Theatricals at the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles with a 9 p.m. show featuring a champagne toast and party favors for $50. Pheasant Run Resort is at 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles. (630) 584-6342 or noblefool.org.
Next, The Second City's "Holiday in the Heights" finishes its run at Arlington Heights' Metropolis Performing Arts Centre with 6 and 10 p.m. New Year's Eve shows for $50-$60. Metropolis is at 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights. (847) 577-2121 or metropolisarts.com.
• The New Year marks another suburban comedy farewell. After four years in Naperville, The Comedy Shrine is bidding adieu to its upstairs space above Bar Louie.
But before all those comedy mementos get thrown into storage while owner David Sinker seeks out a new location, catch one of four New Year's Eve shows (capped off with premature and real countdown celebrations) at 22 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville.
Family-friendly shows are at 5 and 6:15 p.m. ($13-$18), while adults-only shows are at 8 and 10:15 p.m. ($28-$36). Call (630) 355-2844 or visit comedyshrine.com.
• Is standup more your thing? Then be sure to check out the Improv Comedy Showcase in Schaumburg and the Zanies locations in Vernon Hills and St. Charles.
"Saturday Night Live" alumnus Rob Schneider includes two New Year's Eve performances at 7:30 ($40-$70) and 10 p.m. ($60) as part of his Schaumburg Improv stint from Thursday, Dec. 30, through Sunday, Jan. 2, at 5 Woodfield Road in the Woodfield Shopping Center. Call (847) 240-2001 or go to improv.com.
Meanwhile, Zanies at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles has local comedian John Caponera doing two shows at 8 p.m. ($40) and 10:30 p.m. ($50, includes champagne and party favors at midnight). Caponera can be seen at 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles. Call (630) 584-6342.
At the Vernon Hills location, 10 local comedians (like Dan Ronan, Michael Issac, Staci Lynn Fletcher and Shay-Shay) are on the bill for New Year's Eve performances at 8 p.m. ($40) and 10:30 p.m. (the $50 charge includes champagne and party favors at midnight). Vernon Hills Zanies is located at 230 Hawthorn Village Commons. Call (847) 549-6030.
New Year's pop
Few things feel better than ringing in the new year with great rock 'n' roll. A treasure-trove of bands will be playing all over the Chicago area next weekend, ensuring that there's a show for just about everybody. New Year's Eve concerts tend to sell out quickly, though, so if you don't have tickets yet, you better snag them. Here are some shows that still had tickets available at press time:
• The Smoking Popes, a pop-punk band hailing from Crystal Lake, will perform at 8 p.m. at Reggie's Rock Club, 2109 S. State, Chicago. The Popes, whose sound is distinguished by singer Josh Caterer's unique crooning vocals, are a fantastic live act. Company of Thieves, The Fold and August Premier open. Tickets are $35; go to reggieslive.com or call (312) 949-0121.
• DuPage County band Lucky Boys Confusion will headline a New Year's Eve show at the Double Door nightclub, 1572 N. Milwaukee in Chicago. The show begins at 9 p.m.; Swizzle Tree, The Dog & Everything and Saraphine open. Tickets run $30 to $100. Go to doubledoor.com or (773) 489-3160.
• Pittsburgh-based Rusted Root and Chicago singer-songwriter Michael McDermott are on the bill at the annual New Year's Eve Rock 'n' Roll Ball at the InterContinental Chicago O'Hare Hotel, 5300 N. River Road, Rosemont. Packages start at $75. Go to icohare.com or (800) 745-3000.
For those who prefer music of a slightly older vintage, we draw your attention to a couple of classical concert events.
• Maestro Kirk Muspratt and the New Philharmonic celebrate New Year's Eve with two "Viennese Pops with an American in Paris Twist" concerts at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn. The traditional waltzes by Strauss and Lehar are included, plus one of Gershwin's most famous orchestral works.
Tickets were going fast for both shows, which begin at 4 and 9 p.m. on Dec. 31.
"I think it's just a nice time to go out and be with other people and have something classy to do," Muspratt said. "It's a moment in our lives when we all mark what's gone before and what's coming to us."
The New Philharmonic performs at College of DuPage's McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn. Tickets at $40 to $65. Call (630) 942-4000 or visit atthemac.org.
• You can stretch out your New Year's celebrations well into the weekend with the "Salute to Vienna" concert, featuring the Strauss Symphony of America, Eastern European opera singers and dancers from Ballet St. Pölten in Austria.
This touring concert begins at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 2, at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. Tickets are $27-$98. Call (312) 294-3000 or visit cso.org.
For the little ones
Don't forget that children like to welcome in the new year, too. They might be too young to join in the post-midnight revelry, but that doesn't mean they don't want to have fun. Happily, there a couple of New Year's Eve events planned just for them:
• First, youngsters and their families can ring in 2011 with bubbles -- on their hands, heads and in the air -- at the DuPage Children's Museum's Bubble Bash 2010 Blast Off! celebration on Dec. 31.
The event allows youngsters to officially welcome in 2011 at noon as Naperville Mayor George Pradel conducts the Bubble Bash countdown. Pradel will be accompanied by music from Mr. Singer and the Sharp Cookies.
The day's activities begin at 9 a.m. and will feature music, art activities and refreshments. But bubbles are the highlight, of course.
"The thing I love about this event is the idea that it's so intergenerational," said Alison Segebarth, a spokeswoman for the DuPage Children's Museum. "Grandparents, parents and children can all enjoy the activities and bring in the new year together. It's pure fun."
Admission is $15 for members and $20 for nonmembers. Registration is required. The DuPage Children's Museum is located at 301 N. Washington St., Naperville. Call (630) 637-8000 or visit dupagechildrensmuseum.org.
• New Year's Eve crowds often make adult celebrations feel like a zoo. Why not give children a taste of what's to come by taking them to the real thing?
Visitors to Brookfield Zoo's 29th annual Holiday Magic celebration can view more than 120 colorful, animated light displays -- created from an estimated 1 million twinkling holiday lights -- on the zoo's walkways. Look for lighted gingerbread men on a trampoline, sea creatures and a 35-foot abominable snowman. Other highlights include hundreds of community trees decorated with original handcrafted ornaments, live music and professional ice sculpting demonstrations.
Many of the zoo's animal exhibits will be open at night for Holiday Magic. And everyone is invited to join the Canterbury Carolers Victorian ensemble as they serenade the zoo's animal residents with holiday favorites.
A special New Year's Eve celebration offers entertainment by the Radio Disney Road Crew, and early countdowns to the new year in various zoo areas with noisemakers and other surprises.
Holiday Magic hours are 4 to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 31, and again on Saturday, Jan. 1. Activities are free with paid zoo admission of $13.50 for adults and $9.50 for youngsters ages 3-11 and seniors 65 and older. Children ages 2 and under are free. Parking is $9 per car; $12 for buses. Brookfield Zoo is located at First Avenue and 31st Street in Brookfield. For information call (708) 688-8000 or go to CZS.org/events.