If anyone can take the Marlin Hotel (1200 Collins Ave., Miami Beach) from hipster grunge to upmarket funky and fabulously hip in less than 6 months, it's Sami Stormo, Nerve Lounge survivor and the Marlin's director of operations and marketing since May. The sassy blackballed sorority girl from New Orleans is wise beyond her 25 years and dreams of finding the lost Art Deco soul of the 1939 L. Murray Dixon hotel. "I've never had a job where they've said öDo what you want,' so I am! If I say I want a marching band to come through the lobby, they say öGo ahead'," Stormo laughs. The Marlin is undergoing major renovations and Stormo hopes to launch a new restaurant "serving comfort food," a lounge with a new DJ booth and sound system, and Website by February. The hotel will celebrate its new image with a week of "over the top" parties, because that's how Stormo does things. In the meantime, head over to the Marlin to enjoy live music -- from roots reggae to Latin funk -- and Stormo's favorite cocktail, the Parrot Bay Mango Julep, made with mango rum, powdered sugar, fresh mint, and a splash of soda. Tasty! Call 305-604-3595. -- Lyssa Oberkreser
It's a Kwanzaa Party
Hanukkah is an 8-night celebration of the Jewish Maccabees' military victory symbolizing the religious freedom of the Jews. Christmas originated as a Mesopotamian pagan festival then metamorphosed into an all-consuming Christian jamboree complete with a decorated tree, presents from Santa Claus, and oh yeah -- the birth of the baby Jesus. So where did Kwanzaa come from? The word is derived from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, or first fruits. The 7-day festival was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga as a celebration meant to inspire reflection and reaffirm African culture. Learn more about this unique and culturally significant event at a shindig including workshops, symposia, and an African marketplace. Enjoy Motherland Beckons, a Kwanzaa celebration featuring the talking drums of Nigerian musician Ara and the Spirit of the Living Drum Ensemble. The party starts at 3:00 p.m. and the musical performances begin at 8:00 tonight at the Joseph Caleb Auditorium, 5400 NW 22nd Ave. Call 305-636-2350. -- Patrice Elizabeth Grell Yursik
Good hair and cheer
The presents are wrapped and the cookies are baked, so isn't it time to treat yourself and give back to the community? The Van Michael Miami Salon (1667 Michigan Ave., Miami Beach) is celebrating the season with a Customer Appreciation Day and holiday food drive. Stop by the salon between noon and 9:00 p.m. to enjoy warm apple cider and 10 percent off Aveda products and gift certificates. Complimentary recyclable gift wrapping will be available for the plant-derived, animal-friendly hair and beauty products, and cocktails and snacks will be served as you shop. All nonperishable food items collected will be donated to the Daily Bread Food Bank. Call 305-534-6789. -- Lyssa Oberkreser
Winter Wonder ... What?
Miami Christmas means balmy breezes and 80-degree temperatures. Frosty the Snowman would die here. Give your children a glimpse of northern holiday weather today at 11:00 a.m. at the Miami Children's Museum (980 MacArthur Cswy., Miami Beach). The little ones will enjoy a snow effects machine, snow cones, a minitrain ride, and snowflake crafts. A special guest will read The Polar Express to inaugurate the museum's literacy program appropriately. Call 305-373-5437 or visit www.miamichildrensmuseum.org. -- Patrice Elizabeth Grell Yursik