If you’ve taken a Disney Cruise, you may have seen that some rooms have a closet organizer hanging on or near their door. “What is that for?” you ask yourself. The answer: Fish Extender gift exchanges!
What are Fish Extender gift exchanges?
Fish Extender is unofficial and is not sanctioned by Disney. The way you sign up for it is by joining the Facebook group for your individual sailing, i.e. “Disney Fantasy November 9, 2019.”
This is also a great way to connect with fellow cruisers before you sail. I’ve been using it to help my son make some friends he will look forward to seeing down in the Oceaneer’s Club.
The person organizing the group will make a google spreadsheet where you can sign up for various exchanges. We are doing a “family” exchange, an ornament exchange, a craft beer exchange, a tsum tsum exchange, and a “secret Mickey.”
While it is unofficial, Disney is happy to sell you a hanging organizer on board if you don’t wish to create your own. But where’s the fun in that? My husband and I made our own Fish Extender (so named because it normally hangs from the little metal fish outside each door where messages are often left).
Organizing and Making gifts
So, now we had our Fish Extender where we will receive our gifts. But we needed to get cracking on the gifts we plan to give! I decided to do little gifts for the kids in each cabin, trying to base those on the favorite character they gave on the spreadsheet and their age. And then for the adults/cabin gift, I’m doing a set of these cute cloth napkins, also made with my Cricut.
This is a finished set of 4 napkins. I used red masking tape to package them. For families of 5 I’ll do a set of 5.
In addition to the napkins, I made these cute night lights for each cabin. I think it’s supposed to be a $5 spend per cabin, but some people (such as yours truly) choose to go over that.
I wanted the adult gifts to be something that would be useful after the cruise. We love cloth napkins at home because we buy fewer paper towels and because my son pretends he’s at a restaurant and puts them in his lap! Works for me because he wipes fewer things on his shirt!
I liked this fabric I found at JoAnn’s and hadn’t decided what to do with it, so I cut it out in circles and used mod podge to adhere it to paper mache ornaments from Michaels. See? You don’t have to have a Cricut machine to do cute Fish Extender gifts!
For the kids, I had collected a lot of Disney/Star Wars blind bags, fidget spinners, etc. mainly from the clearance section at Target. I booked the cruise at least 18 months ago so I’ve grabbed a lot of items over that time and just put them in a bin in my closet to “shop” from once we neared our sail date.
This is a gift I put together for the organizer of the Facebook group because she did a wonderful job and it’s a lot of work! It’s a travel kit with various items she may be glad to have on board. The Rx bottle contains tide pods.
Most people book cruises pretty far in advance, so if you choose to participate you have plenty of time to work on your gifts! While you don’t have to have a die-cutting machine to participate in Fish Extender, you probably need to have some interest in crafting in order to really enjoy it! I think it would be difficult to give inexpensive items (that are well-received) without a little bit of creativity.
For non-crafty types, I’ve heard of people doing sundae kits (to complement the unlimited ice cream on Disney Cruise Line), movie theater candy for the movies on board, journals, and things of that nature that don’t require making anything. I do feel you’ll end up spending more money on things like ornaments if you buy instead of make them, so keep that in mind when signing up.
If you participate in Fish Extender exchanges, don’t stress much about it. It’s supposed to be fun and a way to get excited about the cruise as it approaches. Give things you’d like to receive and you’re good! Just have fun with it! And bring an extra suitcase to take home your gifts.
I really can’t wait to participate! My son will be so excited to check his bin when we go back to our stateroom. I will do a follow-up post on the overall experience and the gifts that we received in our exchange when I return.
Would you enjoy participating in a mutual gift exchange on your cruise? What would you like to make (or have you made) for Fish Extender? Let us know on facebook!
-Rebecca W Davis