Practically Perfect Disney Crafting: Prepping for a Disney Cruise Fish Extender Gift Exchange

IMG_1360Hi Everyone! If you are planning a trip on the Disney Cruise Line AND you are reading this column, then chances are you have seen crafts for what’s called a Fish Extender gift exchange. I’m willing to bet that several of you are in the middle of planning your upcoming WDW Radio Cruise on the Disney Fantasy.

So, this is the perfect time to post a few ideas to keep in mind while you prep, if you are participating in any Disney cruise Fish Extender gift exchange.

If you have heard the term, but are unfamiliar with that a Fish Extender (or FE) is, it is a decorative holder with pockets, which you can hang from the “fish” dowel off your cabin door. (Actually, it is a fish on the port side of the Disney cruise ship and a sea horse on the starboard side). The fish is there for crew members to leave messages for your room, but crafty people took it to the next level by “extending” the capability of “messaging”.

If you have signed up for a Fish Extender exchange group, you agree to leave small gifts/create crafts for the Fish Extenders for each member of the group. And members of your group will also leave you their crafts and/or small gifts in your own FE.

Got your group list, but don’t know where to begin? Let’s get brainstorming, together!

First, consider what will your theme be: A general Mickey or other Disney theme, Princesses, Pirates of the Caribbean, Castaway Cay, Ratatouille, Finding Nemo, Peter Pan, The Three Caballeros, Sorcerer Mickey, Nautical, Coastal/Beach theme, or the Disney Cruise Line itself…

Next, think about what you will do or create…

A great, non-Disney idea is to pick up candy or items unique to your location (e.g. Buckeye candies if you are from Ohio or TastyKakes if you are from Pennsylvania)

Peruse the Dollar Spot at Target (or a similar store) for Disney-related items like note pads, pens or anything you think might be of use while on the ship

Bottles of water are a great option, too. A lot of people who go that route print off cute labels with the cruise date, too.

Pick up a package of cellophane treat bags. I really love having them on hand any way, but they are a pretty sleek way to package your Fish Extender exchange gifts. They come in many different sizes, too. Keep the leftovers in your craft area because they are sure to be used again and again.

I also love the idea of creating “From” labels for and affixing them to your Fish Extender exchange gifts.

Using a promotional items website, like Vistaprint, is a great way to make custom items in bulk without breaking the bank. Keep in mind, though, that they probably will not print Disney licensed images on your items. They will, however, print your own photos from a Disney trip.

If you consider going to a site like Oriental Trading for items, try to look for the more useful or on-theme items there. (For last year’s WDW Radio Cruise, I ordered everyone in my Fish Extender exchange group tape runners from Oriental Trading and I was very impressed with the quality of them).

Do a basic Internet search and check out some of the amazing Disney-themed Pinterest pages and message boards for Fish Extender exchange inspiration. Trust me, you’ll be pinning a lot of what you’ll see.

Employ the use of the crafting stash you’ve “saved for a rainy day”. Even if there are materials you have second guesses about, those things might be the finishing touch your Fish Extender exchange gifts need.

Finally, take full advantage of coupons and deals at your local craft stores. Pace yourself. And most of all, have fun creating your gifts.

I really hope this post helps you get some your Fish Extender exchange ideas together.

Unfortunately, I will not be on this year’s WDW Radio Cruise, but I am really excited about hearing your ideas. So, please stop by the comments below AFTER your voyage and tell us what you created or did for your groups.

Enjoy your voyage and craft away!

Fran’s Tips:

~You can also use these tips when planning favors for a Disney-themed party.

~You can even use these tips when planning favors or welcome bags for a Disney-themed wedding.


Fran Cassano invites us capture our own memories through Practically Perfect Disney Crafting…Break out the tools that have been gathering dust. And let’s figure out how, together!