there is a place and a time for a charger plate

Welcome to All in the Detail... I am so glad you are here!

My sister says that my daughter and I are the only two people in the world that she knows that use a charger plate for a dinner party or holiday meal.

Yes, I use charger plates. I just love to set a beautiful table... chargers, wine glasses, candlelight, linen napkins, linen tablecloth, centerpiece, etc. because I like to make the task of eating a meal a beautiful and enjoyable visual experience. When I set that 108-inch table in the dining room (it doesn’t happen as often as it used to), my family may sit at the dinner table for at least a couple hours, enjoying each other’s company, laughing and sharing the events of the days and thoughts of their lives. Now that is my idea of quality family time! And why not make it as special an occasion as possible. Believe it or not, I believe you could put a charger under a dinner plate and soup bowl, serve Campbell’s canned Clam Chowder and - voila, it would be a special experience (and trust me, shhhhhhh – I have).

Do you know what a charger plate is and how to use it?

A charger plate is a large, decorative base setting for other dinnerware to be placed on top of during formal occasions such as catered events, weddings, upscale parties, banquets, or in fine dining restaurants.

Also known as service plates, under plates, or chop plates, charger plates are merely decorative and are not meant to come in direct contact with food.

Charger plates provide an elegant way to serve multiple course meals, where each course is served in its own separate bowl or plate, and placed on top of the charger.

Charger plates are available in a variety of colors, materials, lengths/diameters, and shapes to choose from to match the décor, mood, and style of a particular event. Chargers are used in multiple course meals as an elegant way to serve salad plates, soup bowls, and main dinner entrees in order to create unique presentations for guests.

Why should I use a charger plate?

Charger plates have many practical purposes, besides the fact that they provide elegance and enhance the table setting’s décor. Not only do they anchor the dining table, create ambiance, and are aesthetically pleasing to guests, chargers also protect the table and tablecloth from becoming dirty during service. Charger plates can catch pieces of food, and prevent spills and messes that would otherwise stain the tablecloth or flow onto the table. Chargers also help to retain the heat in dinnerware since they are placed directly underneath plates and bowls.


How to use charger plates

1. Choose a charger plate that will help complement the décor of your dining table, and add visual interest to your event’s overall feel. Take into consideration the type of plates, bowls, beverage glasses, flatware, serving platters, and linens you plan to use, and then choose a charger that will balance those styles. Don’t forget about the tablecloth, fabric overlays, floral arrangements, and centerpieces that will be placed directly beside the charger plates.

2. Place a charger at each guest’s corresponding place setting. Set it on top of the tablecloth or place mat, in between the arranged flatware, and below the beverage glasses. Chargers should be two feet from one another to give guests enough elbow room.

3. Align menu cards, napkins with napkin rings, or name cards in the middle of the charger plate for use before the dinner service.

4. When guests are ready to be served, soup bowls, salad plates, and dinner entrees are then placed directly on top of the charger.

5. After each course, charger plates should be wiped clean, or replaced to maintain the purity of the table.

Charger plate etiquette

Follow these specific etiquette rules when using charger plates at your upscale catered event, wedding, fine dining restaurant, or dinner party:

Charger plates should be dressed and ready when guests arrive.

Chargers are always removed from the table after all guests are finished eating the main entrée. Chargers should then be taken away with the dinner plate still on top, as this clears the table and leaves it ready for dessert to be served. Chargers are never used when serving dessert.

Chargers can be removed once all guests are seated, or they may remain on the table throughout the entire length of the meal.

Place charger plates one inch away from the bottom edge of the table to create perfect alignment.

Never serve food directly on top of a charger plate, unless it is coated in a food-safe material.

Now, if you have been paying very close attention, you will have noticed that each one of the photos above have been of a woven rattan charger. However, each setting has been unique as well as formal or informal. In other words, there is no set styles or rules when it comes to when to use and where to use a charger.

The following photos are just a few other types of charger materials (there are more that can be listed – EVER - so I just picked some photos to share with you that I found beautiful).









The point is… whatever works for you – works!

Just because it isn’t a formal dinner, doesn’t mean you can’t use a formal setting with a formal metallic charger.
And just because it is a formal dinner, doesn’t mean you can’t use an informal setting with an informal wooden charger.

The combinations are limitless... experiment, have fun, be adventuresome with your tablesettings.

And chargers, just aren't for dinner anymore...

Other uses for charger plates

Use charger plates as a tray or platter to pass around small appetizers or desserts, but you may need to make sure to place a doily or a linen napkin on top of the charger when coming in contact with food.

Group pillar candles together to create an elegant centerpiece.

Set floral centerpieces on top of chargers to create a colorful base.

Do you or anyone you know use chargers?

After reading this post, do you think you might just give it a try?