New Year’s Eve 2012: Parties with no cover charges or hassles

(Sam Vasfi / PHOTO BY SAM VASFI)

Don’t want to deal with overcrowded, overpriced parties on Dec. 31? These events are the way to go.

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 01:  A collage of inkjet prints entitled, 'Beijing's 2008 Olympic Stadium', 2005-08, along with 'Divinia Proportione', 2006, left, and 'F Size', 2011, center, are part of the exhibit at the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden entitled, 'Ai Weiwei: According to What?' as it is seen on Monday October 01, 2012 in Washington, DC.  The exhibit runs from October 7, 2012 to February 24, 2013.  (Photo by Matt McClain for The Washington Post)

House full of guests, city full of art

The best museums to entertain family and friends of all tastes.

WASHINGTON, DC, DECEMBER 21: As the last light of the day fades away, people ice skate at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Ice Rink on Tuesday December 21, 2010 in Washington, DC. (File Photo by Matt McClain For The Washington Post)

’Tis the Season

Festive plans to make your holidays jolly.

2012 Ski Guide

Time to hit the slopes

Ski Guide 2012 | Regional resort information, a ski patrol ride-along and more.

(Brett Schreckengost / PHOTO BY BRETT SCHRECKENGOST)

Best Bets

Best free nightlife events

Check out some of the area's best DJs for free -- and even score open-bar drinks -- at these hot no-cover parties.

Best for groups

If you're planning a large gathering over dinner, look to these restaurants first.

Best pies

Satisfy a sweet tooth with a slice of perfection from one of these local bakeries.

Best wine bars

The ones that follow offer something extra -- great flight selections, free tastings -- that set them apart.

Videos: Best Holiday Activities and Events from 2011

Parade sets Annapolis Harbor aglow

Parade sets Annapolis Harbor aglow

Annapolis Harbor glows as a fleet of illuminated boats sail during the Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade.
Bethlehem, Nazareth light Christmas trees

Bethlehem, Nazareth light Christmas trees

Christmas trees were lit up across the Middle East on Thursday evening in the traditional birthplace and homeland of Jesus. (Dec. 15)
White House unveils holiday decorations

White House unveils holiday decorations

The White House gets decked out for Christmas, with a shiny decor reflecting the theme 'Shine, Give, Share.' The first family's dog, Bo, also has a starring role in many of the holiday decorations. (Nov. 30)
National Christmas Tree lights up

National Christmas Tree lights up

President Barack Obama and family lit the tree National Christmas Tree in a ceremony Thursday. It's the 89th year for the holiday tree lighting, a tradition that began with President Calvin Coolidge in 1923. (Dec. 1)
Rockefeller Christmas tree arrives in New York

Rockefeller Christmas tree arrives in New York

A 74-foot Norway Spruce from rural northeastern Pennsylvania has arrived in Rockefeller Center for the holidays. The lighting ceremony is scheduled for November 30. (Nov. 11)
Jason Segel unveils 'The Muppets' live in D.C.

Jason Segel unveils 'The Muppets' live in D.C.

The star and co-writer of the new Muppet movie talks to the Post's Jen Chaney about being "Muppety" and introduces the first midnight screening of the film to a packed house of "Rainbow Connection" lovers.
Lady Gaga's holiday workshop opens at Barneys

Lady Gaga's holiday workshop opens at Barneys

For the grand opening of Gaga's Workshop, it seemed as if Lady Gaga chartered a sleigh, picked up Santa Claus and Willy Wonka along the way, and landed Monday night at Barneys New York flagship on Madison Avenue. (Nov. 21)
First family lights National Christmas tree

First family lights National Christmas tree

President Obama, along with his wife, two daughters and mother-in-law, helped light the new National Christmas tree. The ceremony included Kermit the Frog and musical guests.
Kal Penn and John Cho of ‘Harold and Kumar’ take Christmas movie trivia quiz

Kal Penn and John Cho of ‘Harold and Kumar’ take Christmas movie trivia quiz

The Washington Post's Jen Chaney quizzes Kal Penn and John Cho, stars of the upcoming "A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas," on their knowledge of Christmas movies.
Cookie decorating 101 with Carla Hall

Cookie decorating 101 with Carla Hall

"Top Chef" alum Carla Hall explains the tips and tricks of sugar cookie decorating.
Big deals, longer hours lure holiday shoppers

Big deals, longer hours lure holiday shoppers

The nearly 500 billion dollar holiday shopping season has arrived, bringing with it big deals, free shipping, longer hours, and the return of the layaway program. (Nov. 9)