This year sure was tough on the American wallet. Perhaps 2009 was the year that you gave shoelaces and tissue packets to your loved ones as birthday presents, trading in your own convenient Kleenexes for cloth handkerchiefs that you laundered using rainwater collected in a bucket on your porch. Maybe you downloaded a recipe or two for a dollar-stretching dish like pretzel soup, or something involving a pig's foot. And maybe you had insufficient funds to vacay, opting instead for nights of backgammon and fantasizing from your fraying easy chair.
Now it's New Year's, and you've still got no money, and just what will you do to celebrate? Here are some free options:
Big Star: No cover, no reservations needed, and a free bourbon toast at midnight. 4 PM-2 AM, 1531 N. Damen, 773-235-4039.
Finn McCool's Irish Pub: free admission before 10 PM, with party favors, multimedia countdown, champagne toast, and DJ. 6 PM-4 AM, 15 W. Division, 312-337-4349.
Heartland Cafe: After the annual Athletes United for Peace 5K race (7 PM, $25), there's a party at the cafe with a performance from reggae band Roots 101. 9 PM, 7000 N. Glenwood, 773-465-8005.
Navy Pier Family New Year's Eve Bash: An all-ages concert with hip-hop dancers, live music by the Goblins, double-dutch jumpers (6-7:45 PM), and a fireworks show. DJ Madrid spins for a dance party in the Family Pavilion from 9 to 11:45 PM. 600 E. Grand, 312-595-7437.
Nick's: "Bread & Butter" party with free music. 9 PM, 1516 N. Milwaukee, 773-252-1155.
Red Line Tap: Rogers Park All-Stars with Micki Croisant, Justin Gillam, and others. 9 PM, Red Line Tap, 7006 N. Glenwood, 773-274-5463.