Fish extenders. Bet you don’t know what those are. Unless, of course, you’re a Disney Cruise Line alumni, in which case you’ve probably either participated in the fun, or at least seen fish extenders hanging in the stateroom hallways.
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 ornament that is attached to the wall outside of each cabin on the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder.
Disney fan enthusiasts like myself frequently gather online prior to upcoming cruise vacations. We form groups and friendships long before the cruise actually sets sail. We make arrangements for all sorts of meets and activities, including private wine tastings, group port excursions, and gift exchanges. A fish extender group is basically a gift exchange, albeit with a little extra pixie dust.
Prior to the cruise, fish extender groups are formed and organized via an online Disney fan site. Once numbers are finalized, each member of the group prepares a gift for the other participating cabins. 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!
But those, my friends, are only the gifts. Surely you want to see our personalized fish extender too, right? I thought you’d never ask. ;)
And here it is, 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?
Edited to add: check out the gift we made for our October 2011 Caribbean cruise HERE.