Social Etiquette and Good Manners/Gravy boats


Dear Mr. Remer:

I am shopping for a sterling gravy boat.  What are the best dimensions for the boat for practical use for home small (12 person, max) dinner parties?  Many do no come with an underplate.  Would it be correct to place them on a china saucer or bread and butter plate?  When serving the gravy or sauce, should one place the ladle on the underplate or in the lip of the boat?  I always thought the lip was for pouring thinner sauces, but I recently read it is actually a spot to place the ladle.

Thank you for your advice.

Dear Kisa,
Thanks for asking this great question. First of all, do not worry about dimensions. Gravy boats can vary in size and they all pretty much work tyhe same. There is somewhat of a personal preference option, too. I do not like sauce boats (as they are properly called) with an attached underplate. I prefer porcelain to metal, but sterling silver is a good material too. The ladle goes on the underplate. Whoever told you it fits nicely in the spout is sadly misinformed. Ladle goes on underplate. If there is no underplate, either use another saucer as one or as a last ditch resort, place the ladle back in the boat. I hope this helps.
My best,

Social Etiquette and Good Manners

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Jay Remer


I am happy to answer any questions about social or corporate etiquette as well as questions regarding international protocol. It is important to practice civility. It is contagious.


I am certified by the Protocol School of Washington as a consultant for corporate etiquette and international protocol. I have been entertaining and giving advise on entertaining for over 40 years.

Weekly column in Telegraph Journal

Graduate of Protocol School of Washington

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