One great New Year’s Eve idea: Smith Commons on H Street NE, which will keep it low-key, and budget-friendly. (Amanda Voisard/The Washington Post).

You can still join us on Dec. 29 at 1 p.m. for our final chat of 2011, when we’ll be joined by Post pop music critic Chris Richards and fellow music writer David Malitz to talk about the best records, bands and concerts of the past year. (And yes, we’re sure there will be more New Year’s dilemmas to tackle.)

Catch up on this week’s chat below:

Q: Hi, Holly! My friend is getting married on New Year’s Eve (late afternoon wedding in a church, dinner and dancing to follow), and my formalwear happens to be either summer-weight or black. I’m planning on buying a dress, and potentially shoes, too; the only part of the outfit I have figured out is my necklace, a pink-and-gold flower on a pearl strand. Do you have any suggestions for me? Thanks so much!

Holly Thomas: I just posted about winter weddings, so you might find some inspiration there! But if you don’t want to buy something new, you can definitely make a black dress work -- a cream tuxedo jacket or a faux fur capelet over a simple black shift would look stunning. Add some metallic pumps and a fun clutch, and you’re all set.

Q. Looking for suggestions for an Arlington couple for New Year’s Eve. Since wife is pregnant, going out for drinks is out. We had considered going out for French food for lunch (not brunch). Any ideas for nighttime activities?

Fritz Hahn: I’m guessing you’re looking for something to do, rather than just hang out in a bar all night, huh? If you like the blues, Mad Fox Brewing Company has a pretty cool deal: Tom Principato is performing from 9 to 12:30, there’s a full dinner buffet and the beers (for you) are some of the best around.

You could always do a day in Old Town: Late lunch at Bastille or Virtue Feed and Grain, then explore First Night Alexandria, with live music, swing dancing, etc. all over the town. It’s all alcohol-free, and there’s the trolley to drive you around if you don’t feel like walking.

Q. Looking for a budget-friendly, casual place to have dinner tonight near Eastern Market-Barracks Row, any suggestions?

Hahn: Ted’s Bulletin has you covered for burgers, meatloaf and American classics, plus some of the best shakes around; Seventh Hill is the spot for pizza. And there’s Tunnicliff’s for old-school grilled cheese and club sandwiches in a saloon-cum-dive atmosphere.

Q. I only have a week left to find shoes to go with my New Year’s Eve dress! The dress is gold sequins. I never wear gold, so I have no idea what colors are a good match. Help!

Thomas: Fun! I’d go pumps or ankle boots in black patent, suede, or velvet, to create interest with texture. If you want to add color, incorporate a single jewel tone, like emerald green or deep purple-- those deep, rich hues coordinate beautifully with gold. Just look in your jewelry box for proof! One more tip: Steer clear of anything metallic, unless you want to look like tinsel.

Q. Help! I feel like the only way to go out on New Year’s Eve is to shell out way too much money for a prix-fixe dinner or an open bar. Are there any places in D.C. where a group of 8-10 twentysomethings can hang out but not spend a fortune?

Hahn: Here are two dozen free -- Free! -- events for New Year’s Eve, with more to come. Some are doing a NYE vibe without bells and whistles -- Smith Commons will have a DJ and a Moet toast at midnight, and drink specials throughout the night. Nellie’s will have drink specials right up until midnight, DJs and other surprises. Others, such as Boundary Stone and Meridian Pint, will just be open, though you’ll get a midnight toast in there.

Also, I’m seeing a lot of spots that are only charging a nominal fee and letting you pay your own way. El Centro D.F., which has become one of Steph’s and my favorite escape valves on 14th Street, will have a $10 cover charge, but also $5 margaritas on its tented-and-heated rooftop and a DJ spinning in the very cool basement tequila bar. The Passenger is turning the Warehouse Theatre into a dance club for the night, with a $10 cover. Lost Society has a $25 cover, which sounds like a lot, until you realize there are three cocktails included in that (regularly $12 each) and two DJs.