The patera or offering dish was used at the lararium throughout all periods of Roman religion. The patera is used to offer bits of food or wine from houshold meals to the gods. The Romans thought it important to symbolically share the sustinance of life with deity, as honored members of the home. In ancient times there were many different forms of paterae. Most often it was a clay or metal saucer-like dish, shallow and perhaps half an inch deep at best. The patera was usually round or oval in shape.
The patera is an easy tool to use. A small bit of food from the family table, or liquid such as wine or milk is placed into it so that the gods may share with the members of the household. The offerings placed in a patera need only be left for an hour or two, although they can be left from meal to meal if one wishes. The patera should be kept spotless when not in use.