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Let's Host a Pan Party (Easiest Potluck Ever) by Brenda Ponnay for #picnic #outdoorparty #barbeque #summerparty

Let’s Host a Pan Party (Easiest Potluck Ever)

By Brenda Ponnay

What IS a “Pan Party” you ask?  Between you and me, it’s the brain-child of my tween daughter who is a huge fan of enchiladas and brownies, simple as that. But we threw one and found out it was a BRILLIANT IDEA!  It’s fun and you should totally throw one too. Let me tell you why.

Everyone loves a barbecue. But, do you really like being in charge of raw meat and standing around a barbecue for hours?  This potluck has one rule: You can bring ANYTHING as long as it comes in a pan. Sounds silly, right? But you know what? It simplifies everything and gives people something fun and new to try. What can you make in a pan? Just about anything!

As a domestic-goddess-turned-matriarch, I will tell you it is a lot easier to make a casserole and throw it in the oven half an hour before your party than it is to plan and time a perfect dinner. I love that I can make a casserole any time of the day and then it’s done. I can socialize and leave all that kitchen stuff behind because it’s done already!

Invitation for a Pan Party laying on top of oven mitt and spatula

Here’s how you throw a Pan Party:

First you’ll need an invitation. You can send out an email, throw up an event invitation on Facebook or you could go old school like us and actually pass out paper invitations! How novel!

Click here for our printable invitation. Personally, I wrote in the details on the printable, cut it out and then took a photo and threw it out on social media to my friends. However you do it is up to you! You could even create a digital sign-up page so you know who’s bringing what… but it’s not necessary. It’s fun to be surprised by what shows up. (Chips in a pan? Why not!)

People arriving to a pot luck carrying pans of food

Here’s a handy tip if you’ve ever lost a pan to a potluck before: label everything (even your spoons and spatulas) with washi tape. It comes off easy and will save the clean-up team from having to figure out what goes to whom.

various shots of a pot luck (food and people)


If you are throwing an outdoor party, a great way to make sure you have awesome pictures (this is probably only important to me because I love all things photography) is to plan your event during golden hour. Golden hour is the time of day when the sun filters through the atmosphere and makes everything glow with a happy yellow tinge. If you don’t know when golden hour is, consult the internet or a useful app. My favorite app is this one. This one is pretty good for Apple users.

A group of friends posing in front of a table of potluck food


Pan Parties aren’t just about taking cute pictures of your friends in pretty light. They can also be a way to get together and help a friend who might be recovering from surgery, just had a baby or someone who is getting older and can’t cook for themselves. Just ask everyone to bring an extra casserole, covered in tin foil with baking instruction on top. Then at the end of the night you can take them to the friend in need and pack their freezer with food to last them all week.

Potluck with friends at a park

Maybe you’ll decide to throw a Pan Party for Memorial Day or throw a end-of-the-year pool party…. No matter what the occasion, pan parties are good for bringing people together. Then, buy a pack of disposable plastic containers and let everyone take home leftovers!

Check Out More Ideas for Outdoor Fun:

About the Author

Brenda Ponnay

Brenda Ponnay is an author and illustrator who loves to craft and make big messes when she’s not working on her books. Whether it’s painting, baking, drawing, making castles out of card...

Brenda Ponnay is an author and illustrator who loves to craft and make big messes when she’s not working on her books. Whether it’s painting, baking, drawing, making castles out of cardboard boxes or just doing the laundry with flair, Brenda Ponnay has learned that what really makes her happy is being creative every single day.

You can read about all her crazy adventures on her personal blog: Secret Agent Josephine.

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