Charger plates are a part of both formal and informal dinner table settings, and bring practicality and style to your dinner table. Charger plates always rest under another food dish, without coming into direct contact with food. The use of charger plates varies slightly based on the preferences of the host or hostess and the formality of the event. While informal dinner table settings don’t require strict etiquette, formal dinner table settings require some strict rules. You can gain a simple understanding of how to use charger plates in both formal and informal settings by reading this article.
Key Areas Covered
What is a Charger Plate
A charger plate is a large, decorative base setting on which other dinnerware is placed. Charger plates are also called under plates, chop plates or service plates. The main purpose of charger plates is to add a decorative feel to the table and act as a base for other dishes like dinner plates, salad plates, and soup bowls; thus, charger plates never come into contact with food. They are typically larger than dinner plates but smaller than food serving platters. The size may vary from 10 to 11 inches in diameter.
Charger plates can be made of a variety of ingredients such as porcelain, glass, brass, rattan, melamine, plastic and metal. They also come in a variety of colors and shapes.
Why are Charger Plates Used
Charger plates have many practical uses in addition to the elegance and style it brings to the table décor settings. In addition to creating a pleasing aesthetically effect, they
– allow servers to easily replace the plates and bowls
– prevent food stains and damage to the tablecloth by catching food and spills
– help to retain the heat in dinnerware
How to Use Charger Plates
Charger plates can be used in both formal and informal table settings. In informal settings, charger plates can be used an accessory throughout the entire meal. However, in formal table settings, there is a certain etiquette you have to follow. The following tips will teach how to use charger plates according to table setting etiquette.
1. Choose an Appropriate Charger Plate
Make sure the charger plates complement the décor you have chosen and match the tablecloth, mats, plates and other dishes you are going to use.
2. Place a Charger Plate at Each Place Setting
The charger plate should be placed on top of the tablecloth or placemat, in front of the guest’s seat. It should be placed between the arranged flatware (utensils like knives, forks, and spoons), and below the drinking glasses. The distance between two chargers should be two feet so that guests have enough elbow room.
3. Set Menu Cards and Napkins
Align menu cards, and napkins with napkin rings in the middle of the charger plate before the dinner service.
4. Serve the Food
When you are serving the food, place the salad plates, dinner entrees, and soup bowls on the charger plate. The charger has to be either replaced or wiped clean between each course.
5. Remove the Charger Plate
Remove the charger plates after all the guests have finished eating the main entrée. Charger plates are always removed before serving desserts.
- Keep the charger plates dressed and ready when guests arrive.
- Don’t serve food directly on top of a charger plate.
- Keep the charger plates one inch away from the bottom edge of the table.
When you are not using your charger plates for formal or informal dinners, you can use them as a part of your décor. For example, you can use it to display pillar candles, rest flower vases or as a part of the centerpiece. You can also use charger plates to place sweet treats or small appetizers.
Now that you know how to use charger plates correctly, you can set an elegant and trendy dinner table next time you host a dinner party.