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Mark Kennedy

Let's say you've got a tribe of grandkids.

And let's say when they come to Memaw and Papaw's house on Christmas, each has a stocking with his or her name embroidered on it hung over the fireplace.

Well, unless you are extremely hip for your age, there's a good chance you are stuffing it wrong. What was an appropriate stocking stuffer when you were a kid may go over like a Pop-Tart at a five-star restaurant.

One of the advantages of being of grandparently age, 60, with school-age kids is that I get a daily report on what's "in" and what's "out."

So if your idea of proper stuffers are three-packs of spearmint gum, a pack of Topps baseball cards and a dozen sparklers, let me save you some embarrassment.

Here are some fresh ideas for your stocking shopping.


Every kid has "devices" — iPads, laptop computers, smartphones. And all of them require earphones or earbuds. Earbuds are easily lost, and so extra pairs are always appreciated. You can dig deep or go cheap. Cost: $10-$200.

Sour candy

Chuck the candy canes — and remember chocolate will melt if left dangling in front of a fireplace. When it comes to modern kids and candy, sour is the new sweet. So head to your nearest candy counter and pick up some WarHeads, Sour Skittles, Sour Patch or Sour Punch candies. Note: Do not try these yourselves. The pucker factor may cause you to swallow your dentures.

Gift cards

As impersonal as it sounds, most kids would rather have gift cards than most handpicked Grandma gifts. A nice wallet or pair of earmuffs might look like a perfect stocking stuffer to you, but chances are a $20 gift card from GameStop (boys) or iTunes (girls) will yield a bigger hug from the grandbabies.

Soccer gear

If your grandkids play soccer, they'd probably love some merchandise from either of the two big soccer clubs in town: CFC or the new Red Wolves professional soccer team, which begins play next year. Both teams have websites with extensive merchandise choices.

Shoe cleaner

If you have teenage grandchildren, one or more of them may be a sneaker-head. If you don't know this, you aren't paying attention. If they are serious collectors, chances are they like to keep their sneakers in pristine condition. Slide a Crep Travel Kit ($18), which includes a bottle of cleaner and a brush, into your teenage grandson's stocking, and you'll be his new hero.


Don't try to buy fireworks yourself. Kids like to pick them out. Hand-write a coupon for $20 worth of fireworks, and put it in their stocking. By doing so, you have just bought yourself a surefire outing with your grandchild. They'll be chomping at the bit the day after Christmas.

Show tickets

DCappella, billed as "Disney's live a cappella concert experience," will pay a visit to the Tivoli Theatre on Feb. 8 at 8 p.m. If you have a grandson or granddaughter addicted to Disney classics, this is the show for you. Tickets are $35 to $79.

Contact Mark Kennedy at or 423-757-6645.