Lisa Bartlett offers a simple reason she agreed to provide a booth for the first Elegant Elf marketplace: the mayor asked her.

Bartlett, who owns a Sandy Springs landscaping and decorating shop called Gramma B’s, recalls when Sandy Springs’ former mayor, the late Eva Galambos, dropped by the shop to talk up the new holiday marketplace, a fundraiser for the Sandy Springs Society. Galambos’ sales pitch worked.

“I’ve had a booth since Year One,” Bartlett said. “And we expand every year.”

This year, the Elegant Elf’s fifth, Bartlett again is expanding her presentation as the market tries something new. The two-day holiday market is offering live performances for the first time, and Bartlett is scheduled to take to the stage for about an hour to demonstrate how to make holiday decorations such as wreaths or “winterscapes” encased in apothecary bottles. “It’s kind of do-it-yourself [displays], anything you can do at home with your girlfriends or with children,” she said.

Her appearance is one of more than a dozen performances scheduled during the marketplace, which takes place Nov. 7 and Nov. 8 at Lake Forest Elementary School, 5920 Sandy Springs Circle.

The committee that puts together the annual market decided to add live performances this year to “enhance the excitement of the market,” said Valerie Love, past president and advisor to the Elegant Elf. “I call it the ‘sparkle,’” Love said. “That’s what the holidays are all about.”

Performers other than Bartlett who are scheduled to take part range from dancers to choral singers to Patricia Barnes, the Elegant Elf’s honorary chair, who’s known for her Sister Schubert Homemade Rolls and is scheduled to demonstrate cinnamon bread pudding.

Others on the schedule: string players from Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School; the Mount Vernon Upper School Chamber Winds; actors from Act3 Productions; the Ridgeview Singers; the Weber Chorus; the Highland Dancers; Chef Jamie Adams, who will provide a cooking demonstration and tasting; and Atlanta author Mary Kay Andrews, who will sign books.

During a brainstorming discussion after last year’s market about how to expand, someone suggested using the stage in the Lake Forest cafeteria for performers. The idea quickly caught on, Love said. “It just kind of kept snowballing,” she said. “Everybody we approached in the community was excited to be part of this.”

Money raised through the marketplace goes to the Sandy Springs Society, a 27-year-old nonprofit that provides grants to support other local charities in Sandy Springs. The Society says it has raised and distributed more than $3 million.

“We love the idea of pulling everyone in from the community,” Love said. “There is something gratifying about getting our community to come together to support this ‘shopping for a cause.’ We just think we have amazing talent here in Sandy Springs. The goal from the start was to bring in the best of local and national vendors.”

Above, Lisa Bartlett, owner of a landscaping and decorating shop in Sandy Springs called Gramma B’s, has had a booth at the Elegant Elf marketplace since its first year. This year the marketplace is offering live performances, and Bartlett will take to the stage to demonstrate holiday wreath decorations.

In addition to the live performers, more than 80 vendors are scheduled to show and sell their wares during the marketplace, Love said.

Bartlett plans to be back with her holiday display, which she said now covers the area usually used by four separate booths and provides a greenery-covered entrance to the holiday marketplace. “All my little elves have been working as we speak,” she said one recent afternoon as she sat on a park bench in the plant-filled yard outside her Hammond Drive shop.

Working the marketplace gives her a chance to chat with clients she seldom otherwise sees, she said. But the main reason she takes part year after year is to give something back to the community.
“Anything to support the Society, I’m there,” she said.

The Elegant Elf Holiday Gift Market

When: 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Nov. 7; 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Nov. 8

Where: Lake Forest Elementary School, 5920 Sandy Springs Circle

Admission: $5

For more: sandyspringsociety.org/elegant-elf.html

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.