This shot pushes the ISO settings on my Canon 50D. It's also hand held. ISO 6400, f/1.8, 1/60
I think the biggest thing that has helped me when I shoot in low light is not to think about how dark it is but rather look at the light that is there. See how you can use that.
This one is the same settings, same location, same kid, same camera, same lens but was shot 2 years earlier...
Ok, but what about even darker stuff? Because really, that sparkler is pretty darn bright. This was shot hand held with a Rebel XT and the 50mm f/1.8. ISO 1600, f/1.8, 1/15
And that brings me to something else I've learned. Size and weight can make a difference here. I can get away with slower shutter speeds with a lighter body like the Rebel XT than I can using the 50D with the same lens. Depending on if I'm sitting, standing, tired, etc... I can get a good 3 stops more with the Rebel. It's something to keep in mind if you like to shoot hand held.
I said you can get similar shots with a point and shoot, right?
Ok, as far as settings, this was on auto. It was my only option on that camera. It was shot with an older 4MP Fuji p&s. And the reason it works is because she's fairly still and I've killed all camera shake with the tripod. If you know how you can do a lot with a point and shoot. All it takes is learning about your camera.