We aren’t big TV watchers, but there are certain shows we really dig – Sesame Street, Baby Signing Time, Super Why and the favorite – Yo Gabba Gabba.
ETC’s first birthday was a pretty big bash despite our fairly strict RSV/flu season lockdown, but I didn’t do a theme, as any good Pinterest user does. Their second birthday was a different story. No more lockdown for us, but with their birthday falling on Thanksgiving and not wanting to host two big things at our house in one week, we opted for one small birthday gathering at home with family. Oh, yeah. I also did the theme thing.
After we put ETC to bed for the night after their YGG birthday extravaganza I saw a tweet – YGG Live tickets on Living Social, coming to Charlotte in February.
You know I bought those right away.
So the time passed, the shirts got washed and demolished (though I was smart enough to cram them into one garment bag to catch all those itty bitty pieces), and finally, it was YGG Live week. I started my planning for the big day a week in advance. Triplets take serious choreography when going to Target, let alone their first live even with hundreds of other toddlers and parents running amok.
ETC just had the best day of their life so far, hands down. Toby and Eleanor sang and danced through the entire show. Callista was the perfect picture of Toddler Awe as the show started, but with the first truly loud crowd reaction, she melted down and needed some cuddles and reassurance persuasion. She calmed down quickly and was all eyes, but she really got into it after the intermission. They pointed out the characters, sang along with the songs, played/danced the games and were generally blown away by those friends on their TV being right there in front of them, LOUD (as they told us the rest of the night) and in person.
On a personal note, my favorite part I about the live show is being able to see the characters dance without video cropping and angles/angle changes. I never realized just how w talented these performers are or how fun the choreography is until I watched the YGG Live DVD. Seeing it in person was even better.
Timing. Our tickets were for 2, and ETC usually wake around 9. I planned to let them sleep as long as they chose, do our normal breakfast and getting-ready-for-the-day routine, then see if there was time for a quick snack or lunch before packing up. I knew we’d be hitting the street around 12:30, so I hoped to have just enough time between waking and leaving before Lunch Hunger hit. We got to the show about 10 minutes before doors opened and 30 minutes before the show started.
Concessions. Toddlers graze. Mine do, at least. We do three meals a day, but they constantly ask for snacks. I planned to skip lunch on YGG day and bring along some filling snacks to get us through the before-show wait, intermission and general tying over until we could leave and have a proper meal. The night before, I made kettle corn and stashed it in a sealed bag. It keeps fresh for a while if no air gets to it. The morning of the show, I sliced bell peppers and carrots and made a toddler-trail-mix bag, which is basically Goldfish, pretzel sticks and Trader Joe’s chocolate cat cookies. We filled their regular water bottles (which they carry around everywhere) with ice and water and packed an extra adult-size bottle with just cold water. We waited till we were seated and had properly looked around before passing out the first round of snacks. I had planned on our regular reusable plastic drinking cups from IKEA as snack containers, but my mom picked up a few YGG goodies last minute the morning of, based on a tweeted tip. They have these great plastic cups with all the YGG characters on them, and they were big enough for a good portion of snacks.
Souvenirs. Dollar Tree – the store with everything for $1 – and Party City helped us there. You know as well as I do that prices for at-show purchases bend you over and say how do you do, and with three to buy for, I couldn’t do that. Research (aka watching the YGG Live DVD) told me that glow bracelets/necklaces/novelties are popular, so I stocked up on jewelry and magic wands for $1 a package (15 bracelets/2 necklaces/1 wand). The big tube of bracelets meant we had enough to share with surrounding kiddos who longingly looked (and shared) ETC’s glow toys before I got smart and handed out extras. Party City had party blowers and clappers as well as balloons. I saved those (and ETC’s stuffed YGG friends) for the car ride home. The glow toys were enough entertainment during the show and breaks, and the extras gave them something to enjoy after we had to say goodbye – leaving something fun is always tricky, so I planned for tears and distraction tactics.
Seating. Because we used Living Social, I couldn’t choose our seats, but we lucked out, probably because there were seven of us and the rows are pretty narrow at Ovens Auditorium. The aisle is awesome for kids to get down and dance in while still being able to see without being held above people in front of you. I initially worried about whathaveyou with them being loose in the aisles, but they did a great job at staying close by while enjoying some freedom. They just wanted to dance! And because we had so many people, we were able to form a barrier at each end of our seats – me and Rob – so they could freely roam through the row and climb up on any of our seven seats. My only regret is that we didn’t have the Party Pack option on Living Social that would have let us meet the characters, but with their age, who knows how that could have gone. We did spring for the closest seats we could get, and I wouldn’t have done that any differently. We were in row N, and the stage was the perfect distance, though closer would have worked, too.
Toddler prep. I know better than to tell toddlers that anything is going to happen until right before it happens (“Is it ‘Next Week’ yet?” “Are we seeing Gabba now?”), so we didn’t mention anything was happening until the night before. Instead, we just increased our YGG-to-other-shows ratio and talked about the show, characters, games and songs as much as we could without driving ourselves crazy. They wore nothing but their YGG shirts (we saved the homemade shirts for the show but have since added two sets of still-a-bit-big 2T shirts to ETC’s closet). They were sufficiently YGG-ready when we walked in the venue.
Yes, I put in some effort with planning, creating and preparation – gone are the days when I buy tickets to something and just show up – but the day went off mostly without a hitch. No one got lost, no one went without anything they wanted, no one had a tantrum, and everyone had an amazing time. We had no clue what we were getting ourselves into, but having everything but toddler reactions planned for meant all we had to do was be there for them to cuddle, reassure and dance with. And, of course, take photos and video.
(Oh, and if this is your first big event with your babies, you may want to wear waterproof mascara if you wear any. I may or may not have cried while watching their faces during the opening song. Yeah, I’m that girl.)