Yay! The holidays aren’t over. Today we bring you a selection of places where you can ring in the new year or at least begin the evening’s festivities.

We also have a late Christmas present for you — sweet news and photos (by Beacon Journal photographer Phil Masturzo) about a gingerbread house contest at Western Reserve Hospital in Cuyahoga Falls. Unfortunately, the winning houses aren’t on display at the hospital anymore.

First up, the gingerbread architecture.

"You’ve gotta see these." That’s what my hubby, retired Beacon Journal reporter Jim Carney, said of the gingerbread houses made by doctors and staff members at Western Reserve Hospital.

He spotted them while there for a routine doctor’s appointment.

Indeed these folks got mighty creative. Who says health care workers can’t be food artists?

Using gingerbread from kits, they went to town, incorporating a variety of candies, nuts, sculpted frosting, fondant and dough and more in their entries. All 28 entries were displayed for staff and patients to see.

Among the entries: A shoe — an homage to the Old Woman Who Lived in the Shoe nursery rhyme — and a house being eaten by a T-rex.

The Blizzard of Oz house featured a yellow-brick road leading to a white clapboard house that fell on a witch. Her legs — covered in striped stockings — poke from underneath, and a tornado made of yarn swirls behind.

Dr. Sonny Bare, chair of emergency medicine, won Best Physician Entry with his gingerbread Western Reserve Hospital, complete with ambulances from area squads. A gingerbread pharmacy featured a roof dotted with pill capsules.

First place went to nurse Jane Merideth, who created a snow-draped cabin scene, complete with a candle (a mini LED light) glowing in a window.

“I think I used like 8 pounds of powdered sugar,” Merideth said, noting she made a load of hard white icing. She used fondant to make a snow family and dog, pretzels for the cabin logs, fruit roll-ups for windows and Karo syrup for ponds. For pine trees, she piped icing over ice cream cones.

Her daughter, Jaden, and husband, Dave, were her able assistants.

Debbie Boland, who works in medical records, took second place for her scene with a beach house, tiki bar and Santa floating in the water.

Third place went to Renee Palmer and Susan Hosey, also in medical records, who created the shoe house.

The contest is “another way we can come together to celebrate teamwork, the hospital's president and CEO, Dr. Robert Kent, said in a prepared statement.

Heather Milicevic, who came up with the idea for the contest, said she liked that it allowed employees to express their personal style. The contest will return next year, she said.

New Year's Eve options

Here are a few options for New Year's Eve. Note that some will close before the ball drops. This is by no means a comprehensive list.

So be merry, eat well and be safe.

• Galaxy Restaurant, Wadsworth

For nearly 20 years, the Galaxy has hosted a party in its Grand Ballroom, with chefs preparing an array of eats. This year offerings served at appetizer and buffet stations — open from 7 p.m. to about 9:30 p.m. — include shrimp cocktail, tuna poke, gyro pierogis, roasted pork tenderloin, gnocchi and chicken cacciatore. Abby Normal & The Detroit Lean will perform. Balloon drop, champagne toast and more. Doors open at 7 p.m. Reservations required at 330-334-3663 or 877-659-0054 or www.galaxyrestaurant.com.

Hotel packages are available at the nearby Holiday Inn Express (330-334-7666) and Comfort Inn & Suites (330-336-7692).

• D’Agnese’s, Akron

The West Akron Italian restaurant will start partying early, at 11 a.m., with festivities going until midnight, when there will be a champagne toast. Full menu available, along with dinner specials from chef/owner Joe Gallagher and drink specials. Gallagher says to expect some of the “usual fancy New Year’s Eve specials, oysters, lobster tails, filet." He’ll also be cooking up cotechino sausage and lentil appetizer, a tradition “to bring prosperity and good luck.” Gerald Harris will perform from 8:30 p.m. to midnight. Reservations required at 234-678-3612.

• The Merchant Tavern, Akron

This cozy Merriman Valley restaurant with a large horseshoe-shaped bar, which doesn't normally operate on Mondays, will be open from 5 until after midnight for New Year’s Eve. The full menu, known for its appetizers as much as its entrees, will be available, along with specials. Reservations recommended. Call 330-865-9510.

• Blue Canyon, Twinsburg

This higher-end restaurant that looks like an oversized log cabin or lodge is again offering a New Year’s dinner and hotel package, but the eatery will be open even for those not wanting to crash at the nearby Hilton Garden Inn. Dinner seating begins at 4 p.m. A band will perform from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Balloon drop at midnight. This year’s hotel package runs $169 plus tax (overnight stay for two) and includes a $60 gift card to the restaurant in addition to the room. Included is breakfast for two at the hotel’s Garden Bar and Grille. Reservations must be made at the hotel and the restaurant. Call the Hilton at 330-405-4488 and the Blue Canyon at 330-486-2583.

• Gervasi Vineyard, Canton

This winery complex, featuring restaurants and villas and a soon-to-open distillery, will offer a variety of ways to celebrate. The Ball Droppers event at the Crush House, with reservations beginning at 9:30 p.m., was sold out at press time. The Early Birds option at the Crush House, with reservations from 5 to 9 p.m., was not. Cost is $70 and includes a four-course meal with choices of entrée including salmon, New York strip steak and smoked pork chop, and a glass of bubbly, as well as a winery tour. Reservations required. Call 330-497-1000, ext. 521, or email sattar@gervasivineyard.com.

The bar at the Crush House will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, with appetizers and drinks, and a DJ beginning at 9 p.m. No cover charge.

The newly opened Still House coffee/cocktail spot will be open until 1 a.m. serving drinks and small plates. The Jeff Tucker Band will perform.

The Bistro will be open for supper with the last reservation at 8 p.m. Stan Miller will entertain. Reservations at 330-497-1000. For information, go to www.gervasivineyard.com.

• Tangier, Akron

This Akron icon, only open for weddings and events these days, will celebrate with a New Year’s Cabaret Dance Party in its tiered-seating cabaret. Doors open at 8 p.m. with an appetizer buffet including hummus, antipasto, shrimp and sauerkraut balls (now that’s an Akron New Year’s) from 8 to 10 p.m Open bar all night. Cost is $65; $45 for entrance after 10 p.m. Disco Inferno will perform in the ballroom from 9:15 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. (A Dine and Dance party with seating in the ballroom was nearly sold out at press time.)

For reservations, call 330-376-7171 or go to www.thetangier.com and click on “Entertainment.”

• Frank’s Place,  Akron

This low-key, cozy neighborhood pub with yummy food will host a bash with a complimentary light buffet, including pork and sauerkraut. The regular menu will be available. Music provided by DJ Joey Mac will begin about 9 p.m. Party favors. No cover. For information, call 330-376-8307.

• Sheraton Suites/Beau’s on the River, Cuyahoga Falls

There are two options for the New Year’s Eve package, each with an overnight stay for two at the hotel overlooking the Cuyahoga River. Beginning at $275, the package includes two passes to the bash in the ballroom, free appetizers, four drink tickets, champagne toast at midnight and breakfast buffet for two. Beginning at $365, guests get the aforementioned, plus a $100 meal credit at Beau’s, the restaurant inside the hotel. To reserve, 330-929-3000.

Beau’s is open for those with or without the package beginning at 5 p.m., and will offer a special menu featuring Beau’s favorites. For reservations call 330-920-7530 or go to www.beausontheriver.com will be open until 2 a.m. The special New Year's Eve menu is available until 10 p.m. www.BeausOnTheRiver.com.

Beau’s Grille in the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn across from the Summit Mall also will be open for dinner and lunch, offering specials during its 4 to 11 p.m. dinner hours. Reservations suggested. Jan Rookard will perform in the lounge from 7 to 10 p.m. The lounge will be open until 2 a.m. Reservations recommended. Call 330-867-5218.

• Bricco Prime, New Franklin

This latest entry from the Bricco group of restaurants, in the old Prime 93, will offer a special New Year’s Eve dinner menu, which will include jumbo shrimp cocktail, oysters on the half shell, lobster bisque, filet and lobster tail, Chilean sea bass, lobster ravioli and some Bricco favorites. Wine by the bottle will be sold at retail prices. Hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., with dinner beginning at 4 p.m. Reservations recommended. Call 330-644-2239. The other Bricco restaurants also will be open regular hours.

• Chowder House, Cuyahoga Falls

Each New Year's Eve, Louis Prpich, owner of the Chowder House Café in Cuyahoga Falls, cooks up dishes for which a famous chef is known. This year's will be an homage to the late chef and author Anthony Bourdain, with the menu featuring some of his faves.

Dishes will include Charleston-style oyster stew (fresh oysters, cream, tomato, fennel and crushed oyster crackers); pancetta-wrapped scallops with citrus beurre blanc topped with sunny-side-up quail eggs; and two types of the Vietnamese soup pho, one with duck and chicken topped with thinly sliced filet mignon, and the other with fresh fish, scallops and shrimp. The restaurant will be open from 4 to 10 p.m.

To reserve, call 330-794-7102. The restaurant will be open from 4 to 10 p.m.

QUICK BITES:

• Papa Joe's, 1561 Akron-Peninsula Road in Akron's Merriman Valley, will host a five-course Champagne Dinner at 7 p.m. Dec. 29 featuring Henriot Brut, Ruinart Blanc de Blancs, Dom Perignon 2006, Duval Leroy Rose and Veuve Clicquot Demi-Sec.

This will be the first time Papa Joe’s has featured the highly rated Dom Perignon 2006.

Tickets are $150. Call 330-923-7999 to reserve.

• Wine, Cheese & Chocolate, Darling returns to the Akron Civic Theatre at 7 p.m. Feb. 9.

Last year's inaugural event was a sellout, attracting 400 folks.

This year's Wine, Cheese & Chocolate, Darling will feature more than 45 different wines. Tastings will be paired with cheese and chocolate from local purveyors.

Cost is $45. Attendees must be at least 21 years old. Tickets are available by calling 330-253-2488 or visiting www.akroncivic.com.

The Civic is at 182 S. Main St. in downtown Akron.

• Tickets go on sale Jan. 7 for the popular Chocolate Walk sponsored by Main Street Kent. The event will run from noon to 4 p.m. Feb. 9.

For $25, participants can visit more than 20 locations throughout downtown Kent, collecting a chocolate treat at each as they go.

Tickets are limited to 250. They can be purchased online beginning at noon Jan. 7 at www.eventbrite.com. Event proceeds will benefit Main Street Kent, the nonprofit that promotes the city's downtown.

Send local food news to Katie Byard at kbyard@thebeaconjournal.com or 330-996-3781. You can follow her @KatieByardABJ on Twitter or Facebook.