Make a Gift Box for Your Fish Extender Gift Exchange

Ok, full disclosure: I’m an obsessive vacation planner.

These past few weeks have been spent in preparation for our upcoming Disney cruise. It’s sooooo easy to obsess over planning a Disney vacation in particular. I’ve been making Disney dresses, pajamas, fish extenders and now, boxes.

Attached – and at the top of this page – are the details on how to make your own 6×4 box for your fish extender gifts.

Click here for the printable file to make a 6×4 box like the one I’ve made: 6×4-box-with-disney-pictures.


Have fun!


Fish Extenders on a Disney Cruise

So. We’re planning our next cruise. December 2016, aboard the Disney Dream. *Doing the happy dance* You will notice from my previous posts (and more likely with upcoming posts) that we’re a family of Disney enthusiasts.

We’re going with our daughter, son-in-law, and our two granddaughters (who will be 6 and 2 at cruise time). Four nights and five days of all Disney, all the time.

Disney ships have this ad hoc fun activity that originated from its passengers, not Disney proper. Called Fish Extenders, it’s an activity organized by the passengers of a particular cruise. Sounds like fun, right?

Full disclosure: I did a stint as a travel writer, so I’m prone to researching the heck out of anything, especially if it’s travel-related.

What is a Fish Extender?  If you’ve ever cruised before, you’ll know that each line has a sort of a signature mail holder beside your door. It’s where mail – special cruise offers, meet & greet notices, etc. – are left. On Disney, that mail holder is a fish.

A Fish Extender is a pouch (or row of pouches) that hang from this brass fish. You can make your own, or purchase one from Etsy (hmmm, that gives me an idea!) or eBay. They can be very simple or very elaborate.

How does a Fish Extender work?

Some variables dependent on what the group decides:

  1. How big is the group?
  2. Is the size of the group determined by the number of cabins, or the number of people?
  3. Gift for each person? Each kid? Each cabin?
  4. Frequency – once per trip? Or more?
  5. Does the gift drop happen on a certain day or time, or is that left to the individual giver to decide?
  6. Is there a price limit?
  7. Is there a theme? For example, we’re cruising close to Christmas so we might design our little gifts around a Christmas theme.

How do you find out about the Fish Extender activity on your cruise? You can often find your “meet & greet” group on sites like Cruise Critic (Look for the Roll Call for your cruise ship and date) and the Disboards (specific to the Disney brand of travellers) or Facebook. You’ll often see that someone on your cruise has already introduced the idea of a Fish Extender.

We ultimately opted to join the Facebook group which we found by joining Disney Cruise Meet Facebook Group. We were directed to our our specific cruise date/ship where we found a fun, lively, well-organized group with daily posts from others on our cruise.

The Fish Extender group is ideally composed of 10-15cabins. Ours had ten, which proved to be the perfect number as we sifted through the information on what kinds of things people made/purchased as gifts. We knew we wanted to make our gifts – that’s half the fun. And the options are literally endless.

There you have it. Everything you need to know about Fish Extenders in a single post. As for me, I’ve started on the follow up post to this. Homemade amigurumi Disney characters to fill the Fish Extenders of the cruisers on our ship.

Stay tuned for pics and patterns of my fish extender efforts!

BONUS Research: The history of the Fish Extender.

Word is that the Fish Extender started out on the Disboards as a gift exchange on the Disney Magic (westbound Panama Canal itinerary) in 2005 when cruiser Debbie Chitester gave out hanging fish extenders to her fellow cruisers.