By Maureen Post Special to Published Dec 29, 2009 at 4:34 PM

New Year’s Eve 2008: work. New Year’s Eve 2007: work. New Year’s Eve 2006: work.

Yes, going back in time, there’s been a pattern to my New Year’s Eve activity. Since I've generally had at least a side job in the restaurant industry, I’ve opted to work in lieu of bar parties and midnight adventures.

The last New Year’s Eve I remember not working, I spent with friends in Big Sky, Mont., climbing up the lower ridge of Andesite Mountain at midnight. Needless to say, I’m not an expert on making New Year’s Eve plans in Milwaukee.

This year, without a scheduled work shift, I face the task of finding a few good celebratory options and upping my expert knowledge. Maybe it’s my indifference to the evening or maybe there are just too many options to choose from, but in these final hours I have yet to make a concrete plan.

So to help simplify the decision for both you and me, here are five New Year’s Eve ideas that come with my full-fledged recommendation.

1. There are few other times of the year when bowling is as appropriate as on New Year’s Eve. A night primed with the anticipation of the stroke of midnight, bowling under the fluorescent glow of black lights is a perfect way to pass the time. Landmark Lanes, 2220 N. Farwell Ave., has open bowling all New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day not to mention foosball, air hockey, pool and darts. Need a little bit of dancing? Dance, Dance Revolution is one of a dozen options in the arcade.

2. Shed holiday pounds as you move and sweat at Bay View Brewhaus’ New Year’s Eve dance party. The Brewhaus, 2535 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. -- a hotbed of good music and local crowds lately -- has snagged The Get Down for its New Year's entertainment. Great music will ring in the New Year as these DJs know how to get the floor moving with old funk and soul 45s. The show is rounded out with The Chain live and free falafel courtesy of Abu’s Middle Eastern restaurant.

3. Hot chocolate? Check. Ice skating? Check. Holiday lights in the cool, crisp outdoors? Check. A night at Red Arrow Park (corner of Water Street and State Street Downtown) is about as close as it gets to tried and true holiday tradition. Join in a communal midnight countdown as you skate laps and sip cider until 1 a.m. And the best part? Skating is free when you bring your own skates.

4. Mardi Gras, the French Quarter, southern style blues and jazz; there’s almost something innately New Year's about New Orleans. Can’t afford to make the trek south? You’ll find a Louisiana oasis of southern Creole tradition at Maxie’s Southern Comfort, 6732 W. Fairview Ave., on New Year’s Eve. Get there early for dinner followed by live blues and cutting of the New Orleans King Cake at midnight.

5. OK, I admit, this isn’t purely an impartial choice. Cackle band member Molly Synder Edler is a friend and co-worker, but that’s certainly not the only reason I recommend Art Bar, 722 E. Burleigh St., for New Year’s Eve. Cackle takes the stage with Uncle Larry, a band we ran across during Summerfest and that has become a favorite not just for its musical talent but for its onstage entertainment.

Adding costumes to instrumentation and comical genius to lyrical vocals, Uncle Larry is prime New Year’s Eve entertainment. Anyone and everyone in your group will love the band. The $5 cover includes two bands, a champagne toast and a 2 a.m. breakfast buffet.

Maureen Post Special to staff writer Maureen Post grew up in Wauwatosa. A lover of international and urban culture, Maureen received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

After living on the east side of Madison for several years, Maureen returned to Milwaukee in 2006.

After a brief stint of travel, Maureen joined as the city’s oldest intern and has been hooked ever since. Combining her three key infatuations, Milwaukee’s great music, incredible food and inspiring art (and yes, in that order), Maureen’s job just about fits her perfectly.

Residing in Bay View, Maureen vehemently believes the city can become fresh and new with a simple move across town.