northwest Indiana, over 50

Need more money? Here’s a cool guest blog by Laurie Penman …

How a Product Testing Opportunity Landed Me A Commercial Shot

By Laurie Penman

Participating in market research got me to Hollywood to be in a commercial. It was the farthest thing from my mind when I participated in a product testing opportunity a few years back.  I cannot disclose what company, but here’s what went down: after filling out the screener for the product, I was notified that I had been chosen to test it for two weeks.  The product was mailed to me at NO cost and I faithfully tested it out and went online to give my user experiences and notations as I used it.  I thought that would be the last of that, as it is with so many of the product tests that I have done and I just sat back and waited for my $100 payment to come.  However, just a few days later I received a phone call from a very nice lady who was working with the product manufacturer to develop a new commercial.  She told me that they wanted me to send them a video of me talking about what I do (I was a construction worker then) etc. and told me I had two days to get it to them.  I initially thought, “no I’m not really interested,” but my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to do it anyways and sent it on in.  Imagine my surprise when a day or so later I got THE CALL.


Product reviews are lucrative

            “Hey Laurie, this is Suzy and we would like to let you know that out of over 40 submissions yours is one of 5 women we would like to invite out to Beverly Hills to make a commercial for this product.  You will be gone 4 days, our limo will pick you up at your door,your round trip ticket and hotel stay are paid for and we will have an agent at LAX to pick you up and take you to your hotel, then after the shoot is over we will fly you home and right back to your door…are you interested?”

I didn’t even ask my boyfriend if he cared if I went!  This was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to me so very randomly and I was going to ride this all the way to the end!  I couldn’t believe my dumb luck.  I excitedly made my exit plans for the very next weekend.  Just as promised, a big stretch limo pulled up to my house and a very nice driver escorted me to the car and loaded my bags.  The drive to O’Hare was full of butterflies and nervous excitement as I pondered what laid ahead in the next four days.

At the airport I was surprised to find that another of the ladies was from Chicago proper.  I was elated to have a travel bud, and she was so much fun and just the sweetest person.  Of the five ladies that went to make the commercial I am still friends with 3 of them on Facebook and we stay in touch.  They were also ladies who were hip to online surveys,focusgroups,product-testing etc and we bonded immediately over our love of all things FREE!

We stayed in Beverly Hills at the VERY prestigious Mr. B’s.  I was rubbing elbows with celebrities……I literally ran right into Cindy Crawford  in the hallway to the bathroom.  I CAN say she was the sweetest person and very gracious when I told her how much I loved her!  As I returned to my party in the lobby I saw George Clooney in the dining room with his then fiance’ having dinner.  It was the coolest, most surreal thing I have ever done.

Each of us ladies got $200 pocket money for the next four days.  We each had a private and BEAUTIFULLY APPOINTED luxury 5-star hotel room.  We ate dinner in the hotel restaurant where I had seen George Clooney, chandeliers and mahogany…….this place drips money.  I felt like I was dreaming this whole thing.  We spent that first night walking down Rodeo Drive and drinking it all in.  The lights, the stores, the beautiful people everywhere.  Everything was amazing, fantastic and so very much fun! 

It was Oscar Week in Hollywood and the place was buzzing with excitement and lots of construction going on.  I visited Madam Tussauds wax museum, walked the “Walk of Stars”, ate at a local burger place whose name I cannot recall.  I had my own driver to take me around town “for the day” while they were shooting the other girls parts.  I took a TMZ tour bus around Hollywood sitting on the top so I could see everything.  I soaked it all in, I had no idea when I might be able to come back on my own, so I wanted to make the most of the time I had there.

Turns out that because I had a DUI years ago on my record, that the company whose product I had tested decided they weren’t going to use me…..however the producer met with me and told me

“Don’t take it bad, I wasn’t ever picked either for the very same reason”…..he smiled and continued……”We can either send you home today, or………the room is already paid for, you could just stay and fly home on schedule, enjoy some time here, we’ll give you a driver to take you anywhere you like”  to which I replied “Well then, looks like I’m stayin!”  On top of all of that, they still paid me SAG pay for the shoot.  I came home with a $2500 check, a round-trip flight, a stay at a 5-star hotel for 4 days @$550 a night and lets not forget the limo. They treated me so well,and everyone was super professionnal I wouldn’t hesitate to do it all again, and in all honesty I’m always looking for that next amazing opportunity.  There’s really no way to guarantee that a product-testing opportunity will lead to something this amazing.  But I can guarantee you that it will lead to fun, and some extra cash. 

There’s so many great ways to find money on the internet without having to pay ANYONE to find them or share them with you.  I’ve been doing this for over 20 years now and I can attest that it is both fun and PROFITABLE.  I can also attest that I actually kept a detailed record one year just to see how much I amassed in a one year period and the total came out to just a bit over $10,500!  It wasn’t all cash, it was products I tried out (generally you get to keep them AND get paid as well) some of the products after testing them I would sell them.  Double dipping so that I got paid to test it out and then also made money selling it for about half of what someone would actually pay for it.  My product tests have included:

5 coffee makers

2 satellite radios

1 cutlery knife block set

1 toaster oven

1 digital camera

1 spy truck kids toy with remote camera

1 bra

TONS of beauty products and food/beverage items

Diapers when my daughter was small

The internet holds a myriad of things…….you just need to know where to look.  Let me be your guide.  I share what I find online on a very small blog called 

Come find me!

#over50chicagolifestyle, over 50, Uncategorized

COVID please be ovid

By Jane Bokun

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve updated Banana Peel (, but the COVID-19 virus has completely freaked me out.

Since, I’ve had a few weeks to figure out how to hide from my family in smelly places in my house I have never been, it pleases me to tell you that I’ve taken up yoga. Or, specifically, one class of yoga. The company that I work for has generously given us free online yoga classes to try out during the quarantine due to this highly contagious disease and pandemic. I didn’t take to yoga immediately.

May start making cuter face masks as a lifestyle choice!

First, I had to think of all the end of the world movies where there would be no one but me in an abandoned big box store like say, a Best Buy. Epson printers would be scattered on the floor with the latest Google nests and doorbells. I could take all the expensive, turquoise blue and bright red matching mix masters, even a rose gold washer dryer, but who would I impress with them? I could have all the Nespresso I wanted from the expensive coffee machine, but who would teach me how to use it? Terrifying.

It’s like when you see old, abandoned mannequins in front store windows with out of date displays just standing in the window and you know you’re the only one on earth who can go in and try them on. It’s the end of the world with no people, access to everything, and nothing.

This kind of raw, end-of-the-world fear took a whole two weeks. It didn’t help that I was obsessively watching the over million people worldwide who were already sick with the disease. It is a virus that developed out of Wuhan, China.

Common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever and cough. Trouble breathing is a more serious symptom that means you should get medical attention in an overstressed hospital setting where even medical staff are catching and dying from COVID.

I keep planning to go back in my mold-filled basement to try another online yoga class and maybe get to know the other members of the class and pretend they’re my friends.

I am still looking for bloggers for this lifestyle blog. It’s Banana Peel at on WordPress. I am looking for fellow former journalists as well as those who have some ideas about being over-50 and even over-90 (especially over-90). Right now, I have about 5,000 followers, but the blog is growing.

This is a strictly volunteer position that can have positive repercussions. If you’re interested in blogging for Banana Peel, I would be beyond the moon. We will have some meet-up events in the future that may include some swag.

Each blog must be about 300 words with photos if possible. You can blog as little or as much as you like. Please message me through the blog or call or text me at Jane Bokun (318) 401-1685.

northwest Indiana, over 50, Uncategorized

Jobs to be had after Coronavirus

By Jane Bokun

It’s hard to believe, now that we’re all in quarantine, but the sun will come out and so will we.

When I first moved back to the Chicago area, I met an everyday angel named Christine Spencer.

Spencer, who heads the job networking group in the Weis Center at St. Thomas More church, 8435 Calumet Avenue in Munster, started it when she lost her own job and saw it as a vehicle to help on the 3rd Thurs of each month at the Weis Center and the rest is history.

The free job group called STM Career Group, was started abo10 years ago in Munster has proven to be a saving grace for many in the area who are looking for jobs. Spencer, a petite woman who always wears suits to her meetings, has a background in meeting planning and has trained various groups in time management.

Jobs may be found at STM Career Group

“Lots of people come here for jobs,” agreed Susan Strain, who works at St. Thomas More church in Munster. “They can get free help with resumes and hear from human resource professionals.”

Spencer said that may be the ticket to her group’s success.

“We have different presenters at most of the meeting that help with how to land that next opportunity,” she said. “We also have Donna Weidenfeller who is retired from Purdue Calumet Career Services helping people with resumes and cover letters each month and Robert Teets who helps with IT, social media and spends times encouraging participants.  His wife, Helen Marie Harmon, has also been a presenter many times and is certified to give the Myers-Briggs Assessment which we do each spring.”

STM Career Group now has a steady 30 participants each month and as many as 100.  All meetings are free and open to the public.

 In fact, Spencer said she started the networking group, because, “not only once, but four times, I’ve gone through downsizing and merger. “

Now, about 50 participants meet at 7 p.m. monthly on Thursdays  at Weis to network, hear seminars from local companies such as Arcenal Mittal Steel, and basically do what it takes to get a new job. The crowd varies each week from very young right out of college applicants to seniors. Volunteer, Donna Weidenfeller, gives presentations and is a resume reviewer.

 “When I lost a very good job I was traveling as much as 50 miles away to network,” Spencer said.  “I had been thinking of starting a networking group in the area and just prayed about what all this means.  Everything just eventually fell into place.”


Another job for older people: restaurant hostess

By Jane Bokun

It was the dead of winter in the Chicago area and I think I may have completely lost my mind when I tried a job as a hostess in a 90-year-old restaurant. I’m not going to say the name lest you want to run over there and work this job yourself, but it starts with a T-e-i-b-e-l-s.

“I can do this,” I thought. That was before I knew there was extensive math involved and yes, accounting to close the entire restaurant, much like hotels, my other nemesis.

I scoured the Internet for duties before I showed up at the job. This is pretty much what I found (but, it’s not true). Hostesses acknowledge guests, offer up a polite greeting, and remember their information. Sometimes they may have to check menus.

Here’s what really happened: I had to act as the accountant for the day, posting checks, giving change and balancing. In addition to that, I sat customers in various stations. The waitresses and waiters at this establishment had been there for upwards of 30 years and still daily fought over which sections they had been given. After about two weeks, I had to close and balance the restaurant before I left – all for $10 an hour and that was an upgrade because I have a college degree.

Maybe not try hostessing as a senior

Why can’t you be an accountant if you have a college degree? I don’t know.

Each day, the wait staff and myself longingly looked out the front window when there were no guests. It showed a busy street where we looked for accidents or any melee. Something was afoot, I noticed we didn’t have much in common as people and it was very lonely. I started actually speaking to guests about their lives.

The waitstaff did not like that. But they didn’t tell me. They glared at me as I had interesting conversations. I kept on. As a journalist, a woman was once angry with me for an entire year and I didn’t notice. It takes a lot for me to know when I’m getting on people’s nerves.

A man came in to pick up a check from the owners for a charity event. I asked him the usual marketing questions for the event.

“I feel like we could work together,” he said.

Needless to say, I quit and did his marketing for a year. It’s always a good idea to find other senior jobs while on the job.

over 50, Uncategorized

Next Senior Job? Hotel Desk Clerk

By Jane Bokun

After years of watching exciting hotel related sitcoms, I decided that maybe I’d missed out on all the goings on in the hospitality industry. It is thought to be an excellent career for those who are over 50. Not only that, it might be fun.

I became a Holiday Inn hotel desk clerk a few years ago and here’s how it went for those thinking it’s easy and contemplating the work.

Hotel Work

I arrived and was immediately given the night shift. I was slightly afraid, because there were no security guards or police, but I wanted to try it. I thought surely it was fun.

As a hotel front desk clerk, I checked in guests and served breakfast. What I didn’t know was that I did the bookkeeping for the day. If I were negotiating my contract, I would say that is a deal breaker. Me and math? No comprendo. Did I mention the pay was $9 per hour?

The job also requires you take calls from guests and book them, distribute room keys, collect payments and learn to work a really complicated hotel software package.

“All of this and making breakfast?” you say. “Yes,” you will believe you died and went to hospitality heaven.”

Hotel front desk clerk positions typically require at least a high school diploma or an equivalent. They also have a period of on-the-job training upon hiring to become familiar with the specifics of the hotel they’re working in. How much time did I have to learn everything before I was pronounced ready to work alone? Two weeks. Then there was a huge craft beer convention in town and that was my first night alone.

I’m not going to lie, I made many mistakes that night, not the smallest of which was agreeing to taste shark semen craft beer.

The next day my supervisor approached me with a manila envelope saying she needed to see me. Needless to say, I quit.


Tapping out in the over 50 workplace

By Jane Bokun

If you think age is just a number, try being over 50 in the workplace.

In today’s 20-something workforce, out with the old seems to be a watchword — and even many 40-somethings are starting to look over their shoulders and feel the hot breath of youth bearing down on their careers.

In today’s 20-something workforce, out with the old seems to be a watchword —

Everyone in the workforce

Age discrimination is definitely a consideration in the workplace,” said Melissa Cole, an assistant professor of law at Saint Louis University Law School. Cole said as layoffs occur in today’s shaky economy, age discrimination lawsuits do sometimes follow, but not as often as sex or race discrimination cases. She said companies that have large layoffs many times include all age groups so that age discrimination does not affect the larger workforce.

And, she said, when companies layoff, they oftentimes have employees sign an explicit waiver precluding any discrimination lawsuits in order to receive an incentive on a compensation package. Older workers most often take the packages rather than opt for a lengthy lawsuit.

However, baby boomers who are turning 55 this year and are highly paid middle managers might disagree. There are now about 16 million Americans ages 55 and older who are working or seeking work, according to figures compiled by the AARP-Roper Starch survey.

Economic necessity will keep aging boomers working longer largely because of longer life expectancy, more limited private pension benefits and anxiety over potential changes in Social Security. These long-term workers sometimes are the first to be discarded in favor of younger workers with less pay requirements, and they do tend to strike back, Cole said.

Scott Stewart, a labor and employment attorney with Burroughs, Hepler, Broom, MacDonald, Hebrank & True in St. Louis and Edwardsville, handles cases for both sides.

“Age discrimination lawsuits coupled with gender and race discrimination are slightly on the rise in the area,” Stewart said.

There are a lot of factors involved in winning an age discrimination suit, Stewart said, including a lengthy evaluation process to determine whether an employer had unreasonable expectations, such as unnecessarily complicated job directives.

“They can say things like you are not as accomplished in computers,” he said. “But you would have to prove that was only a pretense.”

When making the decision to sue your employer, Stewart said, the first obstacle is making your case to an attorney who will then take it on a contingency basis.

“One of the drawbacks to age discrimination suits is that punitive damages are not available,” he said.

He recommends that if 40-plus workers feel the need for legal back-up, they first file charges with either the Missouri or Illinois Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

“They have a human rights commission that can make an attempt to mediate the situation,” Stewart said. Barring that, the claimant also must obtain a right-to-sue letter within 90 days of filing.

There is some good news for plaintiffs. Although only about 20 percent of all complaints filed with the federal EEOC are for age discrimination, people claiming age discrimination were awarded an average of $219,000 compared to $147,799 for race discrimination, $106,728 for sex discrimination and $100,345 for disability discrimination, according to Jury Verdict Research.

“You tend to get lots of age discrimination claims in a business climate coming out of this type of setting,” said Dan O’Toole, an attorney with Armstrong Teasdale. For example, he said, in St. Louis companies like Boeing and others laid off workers and got 40 or 50 age-discrimination lawsuits.

Some St. Louis corporate leaders are realizing they can act to reduce or eliminate age discrimination through effective management and educational programs, O’Toole said.

northwest Indiana, over 50, public school teaching, Uncategorized

Jobs for the over 60

By Jane Bokun

I know I haven’t written for a while and that’s because I was out working jobs for you. It’s so you know where to go when retirement sneaks up on you and you spent your last dime on car insurance. Since I moved back to my hometown with an eye toward leaving, I have been trying to work in menial labor to see if it’s everything everyone has said.

Substitute teaching is truly awful. I would say, the awfullest, but that’s putting it mildly. So, first up, let’s try on the substitute teacher. It’s the best and by best I mean you get to sit down. I had always been taught to believe this was a cushy babysitting job for the elderly who had spent all their younger money. It would be perfect for the almost-dead.

Me before teaching…

I started substitute teaching at a local public school (I went private myself). The children talked throughout the teaching and I said nothing. They danced, jumped on each other and even air dropped movies and games on the wall. What did I say? Nothing. It was like watching a car accident, I really didn’t want to get involved. That went okay for a month and then they decided to make me a full-time substitute teacher when a real teacher had foot surgery. It was clear she didn’t want to come back and I really didn’t blame her. The classes were either too large or small and the teacher was remiss with lesson plans. She was on pain killers, she explained.

One of the things I was looking forward to was teaching journalism. I spent about 25 years in the field and I never thought it was a job. It was my chosen career and I thanked God everyday for it.

However, when I went to teach journalism, I found the children had been teaching themselves and they didn’t really want to have a record of it. They tweeted sports news every once in a while in case Don Lemon was listening. But they had no actual newspaper on their school site. They stood on desks and bounced on balls and screamed, but they had no real news and most importantly, no deadlines.

I wanted to teach them what a great career journalism could be if done right. They told me to sit down and shut up. Some people and some environments are unteachable, I thought. I kept trying although they seemed to need medication. I got it. They had been given too much freedom with no real direction. That is the problem with most things, but I would say public schools most of all.

One day I was called to the principles’ office to tell me there was a racist incident in my class. At the time, I thought it was a joke. Some kids were playing their own music when other kids told them they didn’t like their music. They wanted to hear K-pop. I, of course, didn’t say much. When does the babysitting kick in? I asked myself. I had already driven to the teacher’s house some miles away to take her and her son to the dentist.

When I got back to the classroom, an almost college sports star asked me, “is Miami a city?”

“I quit,” I said.

northwest Indiana, over 50, Uncategorized

Ageless Beauty treatments work miracles

By Jane Bokun

Each year as I get older, surprisingly I want to look younger.

We all know the feeling of wanting the wisdom of age, but the face and body of an 18-year-old.

It would be perfect.

We would look young, but inside we would know not to drink and drive, or send money to people we don’t know on the Internet, or marry the wrong people.

me after a treatment

Wanting to look young is not exactly a new idea — the search for the fountain of youth has been going on for centuries. While we can’t turn the hands of time all the way back, we can look and feel more confident. There are some scientifically solid, significant advances in anti-aging skin care and chief among them is Fractional CO2 Laser Skin Resurfacing.

To help everyone out, I tried this one myself at Dr. Bethany Cataldi, a plastic surgeon and otylarologist in Munster.

I thought I would probably be alone in my brave pursuit of agelessness, but the office was filled with people wanting to get their necks lasered – myself included.

“The fractional skin resurfacing laser is the latest and most advanced type of C02 laser for improving skin conditions,” said Dr. Cataldi.

After promising the other people in the waiting room I would tell them how it went, I cautiously went to the back office for my laser treatment. I can say this: it was much like having a dental procedure. It was painful, but not as bad as I thought. It was something that was doable.

Afterward, I was able go about my day with no one noticing I had any kind of procedure at all. Immediately after the laser treatment there is icing and little pain throughout the rest of the day.

It’s clear that CO2 fractional laser therapy might be the antiaging breakthrough of the decade. When my neck healed in about two weeks, it looked like new, no brown spots or extra wrinkles.

This skin-resurfacing treatment can combine the effectiveness of traditional carbon dioxide lasers — long thought to be the best in wrinkle removal — with a new application technique that delivers powerful results without the traditionally harsh side effects.

How does it work? The natural aging process, combined with exposure to sun and pollution, destroys collagen — the main protein of connective tissue that keeps skin plump and line-free. Laser resurfacing uses beams of energy light to bore tiny holes in the skin, which works to put the body’s natural collagen production on fast-forward. Here’s what’s new: Fractional CO2 laser resurfacing does this in a way that prevents damage to the top layer of skin, offering maximum results with minimal recovery time.

 “There are two types of fractional lasers – either non-ablative (the laser beams coagulate the affected tissue) or ablative – (the laser beams vaporize the affected tissue), according to Dr. Cataldi.

Next up is my favorite: BOTOX ® injections.

I have tried Botox numerous times and can say it’s quick, easy and fairly pain-free.

Locally, Dr. Gus Galante performs cosmetic surgery, Botox, fillers and more.

“There’s a lot of misinformation about Botox,” says Dr. Galante, who practices in Schererville. “It gets put out there like a Chinese telephone – if one person has a negative experience, some people use that as measuring stick – thousands of people are doing well with Botox.”

Dr. Galante says he has been working with Botox since 1995.

In other places I have lived, we would have Botox parties and people would get together and a nurse would administer Botox at a cheaper rate. The normal cost for Botox is about $300 and it lasts about three months. If done right, there is a moment when you’ll notice you look really great – no wrinkles, just a younger look.

Dr. Galante agrees with the younger look, but disagrees with administering drugs in a party setting.

“People who use a product that is not government approved can have complications,” he says.

“It gives a bad name to a very excellent product.”

 “There are many people who use paraprofessionals,” he says. “A surgeon knows exactly where those muscles are and ethically it’s not a great idea. There’s no real medical history taken and it should be determined if people are good candidates for the Botox procedure. People can give their consent and not understand what’s being done.”

As more and more women and men try Botox Cosmetic in Indiana, it’s quickly becoming our top non-surgical procedure,” according to Dr. Galante’s website. “This truly revolutionary wrinkle buster actually lives up to the Hollywood hype by eliminating fine lines and wrinkles. The simple injections are quick and easy, and no recovery time is required. BOTOX can also reduce migraine headaches and excessive sweating of the palms and underarms. Dr. Galante also performs the Botox procedure to smooth frown lines, crow’s feet and forehead wrinkles.

Last, but not least, is the Lifestyle Lift and Dr. Sreekant Cherukuri, MD, in Merrillville.

The Lifestyle Lift can significantly improve a double chin. Basically, for Dr. Cherukuri, it’s a noninvasive operation for reshaping one’s aging jowls and neck.

 With this procedure scars are limited because Dr.Cherukuri goes just under the skin. Most patients are awake during this noninvasive procedure, but some, according to Dr. Cherukuri’s office, opt for a twilight sleep.

According to Dr Cherukuri. A northwest Indiana physician and his website, “it’s a mini-facelift that is an excellent alternative to a full facelift and gives an overall lift to the neck and lower third of the face. It focuses primarily on trouble spots such as the neck, jowls, mid-face and the lines around the nose and mouth. It is called the Weekend Lift because that is the approximate duration for post-operative recovery.”

Those who are Lifestyle Lift-curious can call for one of Dr. Cherukuri’s Evening of Beauty-Look 10 Years Younger in One Hour! The programs are held at Fitness Pointe located at 9950 Calumet Munster. 

For more information about Dr. Cherukuri’s free programs call 219-836-3477 or toll free 866‑836-3477. For information on other programs offered by Community Healthcare System access the website at


Tell me what happened the year I was born…

By Jane Bokun

Each year my broker sends me a card that tells me not only how old I am, but how old I am in dog years, or that I’m 1,955,923,200 in bee years.

I cover my eyes because I don’t want to know what my age on Mercury would be (258 years). I think my age now is 258 years. All these time limits give me the idea that I haven’t accomplished my lofty goal of being, say, a hit over-50 blogger who is so popular that people line up around the block for my funeral in whatever city I’m retiring in.

The year I was born

The reality, I fear, is that no one will line up for me because they don’t know me. It’s probably the same problem misanthropic people have when they die at 90. Or, the fear that no one will come because you’ve moved around so much.

Enter a friend of mine who I know will come to my funeral. This man has probably attended about 10,000 funerals in his lifetime. If I’m worried about what city I will end up living in, he will probably travel. I know that if I end up in Baghdad in a war zone, he will attend my funeral. It makes me feel comforted and like I won’t be alone in my first days of spirit form.

In the off chance that he can’t make it, there are always professional mourners that I can hire. Here in the United States, it is not generally popular, but I am thinking about it as another career. There are professional mourners who are people paid to attend funerals and pretend to be friends and family of the deceased. They are popular in places like China and are starting to take off here. These mourners are paid to create fake identities and act like they know the deceased.

Today’s funerals can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Professional mourners can make $30 to $120 per funeral. Funerals typically last 2 to 3 hours – making it possible to attend two funerals per day. I have to tell my friend there is money in this.


Christmas at Disney

By Jane Bokun

This is a message from my friend Charles Stovall…

It’s that time of year again, and our pastry chefs have outdone themselves! With displays at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts, as well as Aulani and aboard each Disney Cruise Line ship, there are dazzling gingerbread displays wherever you go! Here’s all the info you need to know on this year’s holiday gingerbread displays, from finding your favorite displays to purchasing holiday sweets. And be sure to look out for some exclusive merchandise, including limited edition pins, ornaments, mugs, headbands and more themed to each of the displays, which can be found at the merchandise shops in each resort’s lobby while supplies last.

Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa

This year, Aulani is dreaming of snow with their “Frozen 2” gingerbread display featuring a giant white chocolate tree adorned with sugar snowflake ornaments and a Hawaiian Olaf tree topper. Along with the main tree, there will also be two macaron tower trees decorated with over 400 glittered macarons. The entire display will be decorated with more than a dozen snow babies getting into a snowball fight with Santa Stitch among a forest of sugar ice trees. 

In addition, you’ll find a few holiday treats for sale as well:

Gingerbread at Disney for the holidays
  • Candy Cane Macarons
  • Holiday Mickey Crispy Treats
  • Holiday Caramel Apples
  • Gingerbread-Spiced Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
  • Seasonal Mickey Cupcakes
  • Giant S’mores Pops
  • DIY Fresh Gingerbread House Kits
  • Mickey Monte Blanc
  • Gingerbread Yule Log
  • Peppermint Brownies

Who wouldn’t want to make a trip to Hawaii for the holidays? If you’re interested booking a Hawaiian vacation with Disney or want to learn more about this resort, visit the Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa website! 

Disney Cruise Line Gingerbread Displays

Each year, the Disney Cruise Line onboard pastry teams build unique displays in the atriums of each ship. These displays are part of annual holiday gingerbread competition between each of the ships’ pastry teams. This year, each of the four distinctly different displays features over 600 pounds of gingerbread dough, over 5,000 gingerbread bricks, and over 200 pounds of sugar! These displays take weeks to construct and move onto the ships, and each brick is individually aligned and placed with icing. You’ll find them throughout the holiday seasons on the Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy, Disney Magic, and Disney Wonder ships! 

To book a cruise and see these amazing displays for yourself, visit the Disney Cruise Line website

Disneyland Park – Haunted Mansion Holiday Gingerbread House

This year not only marks the 50th anniversary of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland park, but it also marks the 19th time that Jack Skellington has visited the 999 Happy Haunts who dwell there, transforming it into a Haunted Mansion Holiday. And each year, the Walt Disney Imagineering and Disneyland pastry teams team up to create a wonderfully spooky gingerbread display in the Grand Hall of The Haunted Mansion. This year’s display celebrates the 50th anniversary of the beloved attraction, standing almost ten feet tall and featuring 15 different gingerbread cookies depicting the various residents of the mansion. You’ll find this display through the end of the holiday season in Disneyland park by visiting the Haunted Mansion Holiday, a merrily macabre makeover inspired by Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” 

Disneyland Resort – Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa Gingerbread Display

Built by a team of talented Disney artists, engineers, and bakers, this gingerbread house, a replica of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, stands over seven feet tall and is decorated with over 600 pounds of gingerbread! If you look closely, you’ll even find a few hidden Mickeys sprinkled throughout the display. This gingerbread house is in the lobby of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa through the end of the holiday season at Disneyland Resort.

In addition, you can enjoy A Grand Gingerbread House Experience, a hands-on workshop that’s great holiday fun for the whole family! Meet the Disney pastry chefs who crafted the iconic gingerbread house and create one for your party or family. This experience occurs from 3:00-4:30pm on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 11, 15, 18, 21, and 22. For more information and to make reservations, visit the Disneyland Resort website or call (714) 781-DINE or (714) 781-3463.

You can also enjoy an array of sweets and treats at the Holiday Cart located nearby the display. Offerings include:

  • Holiday Cookies – Mickey Poinsettia Cookie, Mickey Santa Cookie, Mickey Reindeer Cookie, Hanukkah Cookie
  • Christmas Cookie Box
  • Gingerbread Man
  • Apple Caramel Pound Cake
  • White Chocolate Brownie Pop
  • Peppermint Bark
  • Truffle Box
  • Gingerbread Crispy Treat
  • Hot Apple Cider
  • Hot Chocolate
  • Cookie Shots (with choice of milk, chocolate milk, rum, Irish cream liqueur, cinnamon cream liqueur, peppermint schnapps, peppermint syrup, caramel syrup, pumpkin syrup, or orange-flavored liqueur)

Walt Disney World Resort – Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Gingerbread Display

New this year is a gingerbread display at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Escape to the rustic majesty of America’s Great Northwest! This gingerbread cabin is inspired by the turn-of-the-century National Park lodges and even features a familiar bear named Humphrey hanging out right in front of the display. Set inside the lobby, the cabin is nestled beside a murmuring creek among the resort’s towering totem poles right next to a stone hearth fireplace and the majestic seven-story Christmas tree. If you look closely, you might just find a few hidden Mickeys! 

Holiday Treats for Sale:

  • Gingerbread Man Kits
  • Gingerbread Pine Tree
  • Chocolate Pine Cones
  • Reindeer Food
  • Gluten-Friendly Gingerbread Man
  • Spiced Moose Cookie
  • Hot Chocolate
  • Apple Cider

Walt Disney World Resort – Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa Gingerbread Display

Another new display this year comes to Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. Here you’ll find a holiday village themed to the Saratoga Springs, New York complete with a carousel in the park. You’ll also be able to purchase sugar cookies and gingerbread man cookies! 

Walt Disney World Resort – Disney Springs Gingerbread Display

Located in the popular Amorette’s Patisserie in Disney Springs, this storefront display depicts a miniature version of the pastry shop and a miniature kitchen. This adorable gingerbread house will be on display starting Nov. 25, 2018, and will be up through the end of December. And when you stop by the shop to see it for yourself, you can indulge in one of the many holiday offerings available:

  • Holiday Petit Cake – Morello Cherry, Chantilly, Chocolate Chiffon Cake, and Dark Chocolate Mousse
  • Yule Log Dessert – Red Velvet Cake with Spice Cream Cheese Icing 
  • Ornament Macaron – With Milk Chocolate Peppermint Ganache
  • Ornament Pastry – Bourbon Hot Chocolate Mousse, Marshmallow, and Chocolate Chiffon Cake

For more info on all of the holiday sweets at Disney Springs – check out my recent blog with all the yummy details!

Walt Disney World Resort – Disney’s BoardWalk Resort Gingerbread Display

Representing the fun restaurants and shops located along Disney’s Boardwalk, this gingerbread display is in the lobby of Disney’s BoardWalk Resort. The display will be up through the end of December. In this display, the BoardWalk Bakery takes center stage with Chef Mickey at the helm! You’ll also be able to snack on festive sweets available for purchase nearby the display:

  • Decorated Mickey and Minnie Sugar Cookies
  • Jumbo Coconut Macaron
  • White and Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bark
  • Zimsterne Sugar Stars
  • Spitz Kuchen
  • Mini Contessa Cookies
  • Spitz Lerkerli
  • Stollen
  • Drinking Chocolate
  • Gingerbread Martini

Walt Disney World Resort – Disney’s Contemporary Resort Gingerbread Castle

For the 10th Anniversary of Disney’s Contemporary Resort Gingerbread Display, Cinderella and Prince Charming greet guests as they come to visit the fanciful gingerbread castle set on an “it’s a small world” backdrop. This 18-foot tall display is located on the 4th floor concourse of Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The castle is crafted from thousands of gingerbread blocks, rolled fondant, and modeling chocolate and features a rolled fondant Fairy Godmother and a display box featuring Cinderella’s glass slipper. The display will be up through January 5, 2020. Be sure to come by and see it, and try to find the nine hidden Mickeys and ten images highlighting ‘it’s a small world’ and ‘Frozen 2’ to celebrate the 10th Anniversary! As a tribute to Mary Blair, you might even see the famous five-legged goat! And available for purchase at the Gingerbread Hut nearby are holiday sweets such as:

  • Tree-Shaped Sugar Cookie
  • No-Sugar-Added Cookie
  • Chocolate Peppermint Cookie
  • Chocolate Pecan Cookie
  • Linzer Cookie
  • Gingerbread Boy
  • Gluten-Friendly Gingerbread Boy
  • Gingerbread Shingle
  • Frozen Hot Chocolate
  • Frozen Apple Cider 
  • Alcohol Floaters available for Frozen Drinks
  • Plant-Based Gingerbread Loaf
  • 10th Anniversary Cookie Box of Assorted Guest Favorites

Walt Disney World Resort – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Gingerbread House

As always, the iconic Grand Floridian Gingerbread House fills the resort’s lobby with sugary-sweet scents! This life-size gingerbread house will be up throughout the holiday season. Featuring hidden Mickeys, gingerbread shingles, and more, this 14-foot tall display also houses a little sweet shop selling freshly baked house-made items such as:

  • Gingerbread Shingles
  • Gingerbread Cookies
  • Stollen
  • Christmas Tree Brownie
  • S’mores Cookie
  • Chocolate-Peppermint Bark
  • Gingerbread Ornaments
  • Mini Gingerbread Houses
  • Assorted Gingerbread Cookie Bags
  • Lollipops
  • Grand Floridian Combo Box
  • Snowman Donut
  • Aurora’s Gifts (petit fours)
  • Grand Floridian Cake Pop
  • Gluten-free Plant-Based Gingerbread Boy
  • Gluten-Free Plant-Based Mint Cookie
  • No-Sugar-Added Cookies

You can also enjoy a Gingerbread House Decorating Demo conducted in front of the display daily Dec. 1-25, 2019. 

Walt Disney World Resort – Disney’s Beach Club Resort Gingerbread Carousel

This life-sized spinning carousel is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year in the lobby of Disney’s Beach Club Resort. The display features Peter Pan-themed carousel horses decorated with hand-crafted chocolate, sugar, and fondant as well as hand-crafted gingerbread shingles and snowflakes. Can you spot all 20 hidden Mickeys? Treats for sale include:

  • Gingerbread Shingles
  • Gingerbread Mickey Cookie
  • Paint-Your-Own Sugar Cookie
  • Stollen Bread Loaves
  • Holiday Cookie Bags
  • Chocolate Peppermint Bark
  • Plant-Based Chocolate Mint Cookie
  • Plant-Based Gingerbread Cookie
  • Chocolate Lollipops

Walt Disney World Resort – The American Adventure Gingerbread Display at Epcot

This patriotic gingerbread display features the United States Capitol Building as well as the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, and a seven-foot gingerbread Washington Monument topped with golden Mickey ears. Located in The American Adventure at Epcot, the display contains six hidden Mickeys and is made with over 50 pounds of gingerbread and 20 pounds of chocolate.