What has worked best for me is to use LightRoom. The previous version (3) is very cheap now as version 4 just came out. (Something like $75 on Amazon) and you can even rent it now from Adobe.
I have created folders named 2000, 2001, 2002...2012 and in each one I have the pics in folders named according to a given event. Makes it easy to find what I need. Add to that Tagging and Rating and you have it all.
I've done some workshops at SantaFe Workshops in NM and pretty much everyone uses Lightroom. One added advantage that many on this forum will support is that Lightroom has image development features that contain all of what Camera Raw can do and in many cases negates the need to further edit in Photoshop.
I really have to recommend LightRoom.
“ Your first 10000 photographs are your worst." – Henri Cartier-Bresson