If you are going on a Disney Cruise you may have heard about Fish Extender Gift Exchange (FE gifts) and may be wondering what is it all about.
The Fish Extender Gift Exchange started as a gift exchange by a cruiser named Debbie, on one of the 2005 Panama Canal cruises, and has grown ever since. Even Disney Cruise Line has gotten involved. They offer a Fish Extender you can buy as part of the Family Nautical Package on their Gifts and Amenities page.
To get involved in the Fish Extender Gift Exchange, you need to find and meet other cruisers who are sailing with you on your cruise. There are a number of ways to do that.
If you want to stick to social media sites check out Facebook. You can join a Fish Extender Facebook group, like the one I am involved with. The group is very helpful and will point you to your cruise-specific group.
Another way to find fellow cruisers is to do a Facebook search. Most groups use a similar format when creating the groups. Enter Disney “the name of your ship” and “the date of the sailing”, and your group should appear in the search results. If it doesn’t it may mean that a group has not been started. Once you join your Facebook cruise group ask about how to join the Fish Extender Gift Exchange. Your Fish Extender co-ordinator will break up the groups usually into groups of 10-15.
So you have joined your cruise group and signed up for the Fish Extender Gift Exchange what is next.
The Fish Extender
The Fish Extender is like a mailbox that hangs from the fish, starfish, or seahorse that is affixed outside your stateroom door. It can be anything that allows the gifts to be placed inside. A shopping bag, a pocket hanger, or a specially made Fish Extender. You can make it yourself, buy it online from Etsy, or go for a hybrid – buy the holder and decorate it yourself.
If you make one yourself the dimensions to remember are 8-12 inches wide and no more than 5 feet long. When I made ours it was far too long and required some tailoring.
I have since remade our Fish Extender and made one for my sister. It is not as wonky as the original one, lol. We went with superhero themes this time Captain Marvel and Captain America.
The Fish Extender Gifts
The next big question is, “What to give?”
It is up to you to decide how you want to give your gifts. You can do a gift for the cabin, a separate gift for each person in the cabin, or do a hybrid cabin gift and something small for each person. Usually, I do a hybrid gift for the cabin with a small gift for everyone in the cabin. I don’t get hung up on the gender or the age of the guests in the cabin, and try to give something appropriate for any age or gender.
I try to keep our gifts small. We fly in for our cruises and the larger the gift the more our luggage will weigh. Our first time doing a Fish Extender Exchange our gifts filled their own suitcase, I have scaled back since then. I also try to give something that I would appreciate and be able to reuse at home or on future cruises. Also, don’t give more than you can afford. I think giving a Fish Extender gift doesn’t have to break the bank.
You only need to hand out gifts once through the cruise. It is a good idea to have a plan on how to deliver the gifts to save time. Usually, we do floors and deliver all the gifts for 1 or 2 floors at the same time. Others will break up the gift by the location of the cabin; forward, midship, and aft.
Here are some of my favourites from Pinterest and the gifts we have received.
I hope this has answered most of your Fish Extender questions. If you have any other questions let me know in the comments.
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