If you’re reading this, chances are good that you’re going on a Disney cruise soon. Congratulations! I know that you’ve got your packing list, passports and cruise excursions to consider but if you want to truly take full advantage of the pixie dusted fun afforded to Disney Cruise Line guests, you’re going to want to at least consider participating in a fish extender group.
What exactly is a fish extender?
Named for the decor from which they hang, fish extenders are usually handmade pocket organizers (similar to a shoe caddy or mail organizer) customized with names, favorite Disney characters, etc. These pocket organizers are hung from a decorative fish, starfish or seahorse ornament that is attached to the wall outside of the cabins on each of Disney’s four ships. My family’s fish extender looks like this.
Fish extenders are widely available on Etsy. You can custom order one that suits your family perfectly. Simply enter the search term “fish extender” and prepare to be overwhelmed with options! Alternatively, you can make your own–and it doesn’t have to be fancy. Even a cute tote bag will work in a pinch!
Where do I sign up?
It’s simple. You just visit the Facebook group for finding a Fish Extender group. You’ll need to sign up with the names (and sometimes ages) of participating family members as well as your stateroom number.
What happens next?
Once numbers are finalized, each member of the group prepares a gift for the other participating cabins. You can opt to provide a single family gift for the participating cabins, or give individual gifts to each person in the cabin. There are no rules regarding gifts (no minimum or maximum dollar value). Often times, the gifts are handmade, but not always. Once the cruise has commenced, participants deliver their gifts to the other participating staterooms, leaving them as a surprise in the fish extender pockets. One of the most fun aspects of taking part in a fish extender group is checking in throughout the day to see what little goodies are waiting.
Is that a sufficient overview? I hope so, because I’d really like to move on to the fun part now. That is, sharing our most recent fish extender gift. It was a doozie.
When all was said and done, there were over 60 (!!!) fish extender participating cabins for our most recent cruise, which put a screeching halt on the gift we’d originally planned because there was no way we could afford it…times 60! Some creative thinking, though, led us to an idea that stuck: the paper bag scrapbook. Creating sixty of them was no easy feat, so we recruited help (over Thanksgiving when we had extra hands on deck) and put them together assembly line style.
It may look like we’re all smiles, but let me assure you, it wasn’t all fun and games. There was a lot of cutting. Pasting. Tying. Stuffing. Grumbling. But we won’t go into that.
Instead, I’ll proudly show you the finished product:
I found this modified version of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” online. It was written with a generalized cruise theme, so I modified it (or, more specifically, Disneyfied it) a bit further.
Jeff and I tag-teamed this crossword puzzle. I came up with the clues/answers and he, being the technical genius he is, fashioned the actual puzzle and printed it out on paper with a Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island in the Bahamas) background.
Our paper bag scrapbooks included two CD’s. This is the first one.
This spread features a “Would You Rather” activity on one page, and on the other, a little poem directing the recipient to look in the pocket of the book for a special surprise.
Here is the special surprise. It’s a magnet. Stateroom doors on Disney Cruise Line are metal. Cruisers in the know often times plan ahead and bring along a plethora of magnets to adorn their stateroom doors. Not only is it fun and festive, but it also helps to set your stateroom door apart from a long hall of identical doors.
This is the second CD.
And voila. There you have it.
Times sixty. SIXTY!
Here is what our fish extender looked like in action, so to speak.
And that, my friends, is the conclusion of my fish extender tutorial. Betcha want to cruise Disney now, don’t you?
I’m curious. What would you give for a fish extender gift?
If you’re stumped and need some ideas, check out my fish extender gift ideas!