There is something unique to Disney cruises which is actually organized by the passengers and not the cruise line – and that’s called a fish extender! If you’ve heard people talking about Disney cruise fish extenders you may be wondering what on earth that means.
What is a fish extender exchange?
This is a gift exchange that is organized ahead of time, usually though a facebook group. You’re assigned a group of cabins and drop off little gifts for each person in your group – and of course in return you receive gifts from them. People are very creative – some people hand make everything and other people purchase small items.
The “fish extender” itself is something that goes outside of your stateroom door and can hold the little gifts you receive. It can be an elaborate item that you buy or make with lots of pockets, or as simple as having a bag outside of your door. The name fish extender comes from the fact that all the Disney cruise staterooms have a little fish outside of the door where you can hang things. (In this case I think a picture speaks a thousand words!).
How do I find a fish extender group?
They are almost all done through facebook. Pretty much every Disney Cruise Line sailing has a facebook group dedicated to it – just search for your ship/date and you should find it. Once you join the group, chances are someone has started organizing a fish extender exchange. If they haven’t yet and you’re still far out from your cruise it will probably happen soon (or you can always ask an admin in the group about it).
Where do I get the actual fish extender?
You can make one yourself or buy it off of Etsy. There are lots of different ways to put one together besides sewing! One idea I’ve seen that I really like is to use zip top pencil cases and string them together. Some other easy ways I’ve seen of doing it include mini tote bags or hanging organizers. I myself used some Super Swap-it pockets that I had from Thirty-One gifts. Just add some names and cute Disney details and you’re good to go!
How many gifts do I have to give?
It depends on how your group is organized, but the ones that I’ve done have usually had about ten cabins involved in each exchange (if there are more than 10 interested they do a number of different groups so you don’t have to do dozens and dozens of gifts!). It’s up to you if you want to do an individual gift for each person in the cabin or one bigger gift to be shared.
What should I give as a gift?
There are so many great ideas out there! And I want to emphasize that it’s the thought that counts (not the price or the amount). Usually there is some kind of basic survey so you know the favorite characters, movies, etc. of the people you’re exchanging with. Some people make their gifts and some people buy them. It also depends if you’re flying or not, because you have to make sure you can fit stuff into your suitcase!
Some of my personal favorite items that I’ve received include travel mugs/cups, socks, face masks, Christmas ornaments, magnets, coasters, and jewelry. Possibly my favorite is a coaster someone made for me that had my name on it and a silhouette of the orange bird – it was so perfect for me! I think I could do a whole blog post with fun ideas for fish extender gifts.
Have you done a Disney cruise fish extender? What are some of the best gifts you’ve received?