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TRANQUILITY FOR FREE: To celebrate its 10th birthday, Portland's lovely Chinese garden is changing its name to the Lan Su Chinese Garden (drawing syllables from Portland and Suzhou, our sister city in Jiangsu province, the new name means "garden") and going admission-free for 10 days from Jan. 2 to 11. 239 NW Everett St.,

TICKETED GALAS ARE FOR SUCKERS: The best free concert this New Year's Eve is without a doubt the killer lineup of retro pop rockers Secrets in the Salt, masterful pop hook-writers Yeltsin, soulful indie crooners The Rainy States and filthy, sexy punks Coco Cobra & The Killers. The Knife Shop, 426 SW Washington St., 228-3669, 9 pm Thursday, Dec. 31. 21+. Free.

FREE! CHOCOLATE! BUFFET! For the fourth year running, Pix Pâtisserie will host a free chocolate buffet at the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31. The first year the event was mobbed, and owner Cheryl Wakerhauser had to put her own New Year's plans on hold to meet demand. These days, crowd control is in effect. The staff will hand out buffet tickets to the first 100 customers at each Pix location at 11 pm, but you'll have to buy a glass of bubbly (from the menu of 68 labels) to be eligible. So it's more like an almost-free chocolate buffet, but still totally worth it. 3901 N Williams Ave., 282-6539; 3402 SE Division St., 232-4407; Both locations will be open until 1:30 am.

ECONOMICAL RECOVERY: North Williams Avenue oyster bar EaT hosts a hangover recovery brunch New Year's Day, with a $5 Bloody Mary bar and $13 full-bottle mimosas (that's one bottle of Champagne and one bottle of OJ; you mix your own) and a free helping of cabbage, black-eyed peas and cornbread with any purchase. And yes, they will be showing the Rose Bowl. 3808 N Williams Ave. 281-1222, Opens at 11:30 am, game at 1:30 pm.

LÖW CÖST SPÄ: Scandinavian-inspired Löyly claims to be the cheapest spa in town. We can't verify if that's the case, but at $15 for one hour in the sauna (or $28 for three), we have no reason to doubt it. We can verify that the umlaut makes Löyly the most heavy metal spa we know of. Swëät! 2713 SE 21st Ave., 236-6850,