Thursday, October 3

CURRENT OBSESSIONS: Charger Plates & How To Use Them

Over the last few months I have been seeking out different 'Thanksgiving' and Fall tablescapes. In my search I have come across the ever faithful charger plate and let me just say - I am in LOVE! A new design element to me, the charger has a long and varied history. Charger plates are larger decorative plates used to dress up dinner tables at parties, weddings, and other special events. Even though they have been around for centuries, their popularity has grown tremendously since the late 1990s. Since food is not actually served on chargers, they are often called underplates. They were used quite often in Medieval England and the "chargeour" referred to a large platter - which it is. You can even find chargers mentioned in the Bible. If you're interested you can find that reference in Mark 6:25 and Matthew 14:8 KJV. 

A decorative charger plate is an elegant and underused element of a place setting. It gets its "decorative" label because it never directly touches any food; instead it functions as an aesthetic resting place onto which food-bearing dishes and bowls are placed. A charger plate is usually larger than a dinner plate but smaller than a food-serving platter. As it need not hold food, it can be made out of a wider range of materials than regular dishes. In addition to standard china, chargers are made of metal, wood, glass, plastic, mother of pearl, and even leather. And they may be decorated with substances that can be toxic if ingested. In other words, DON'T SERVE FOOD ON CHARGERS OR EAT OFF OF THEM UNLESS THEY ARE SPECIFICALLY MADE TO BE USED AS SUCH. {In case you wondered that's my disclaimer in this post - you have been warned!} You can find charger plates at a wide range of stores and outlets. Here are a few of my personal favorites, if I know where you can purchase these lovelies I'll leave a link below, HAPPY HUNTING!

Charger Plate Etiquette varies slightly depending on the preferences of the host or hostess, but some general rules apply. The plate should be set when guests arrive even though some hosts remove it before any food is served. More commonly, charger plates are kept on the table during the serving of soup, first courses and the entrée and act as a base on which food-bearing bowls and dishes are placed. Most hosts enjoy the appearance of the plate in combination with the dinner dishes and leave it on the table throughout the course of the meal. This is how I plan to use my chargers, as part of the table design and decor. Most agree however, that the charger should be removed before the dessert course.

  • Spread your tablecloth over your table. Set place mats if using them. Set a charger at each chair, centered over the place mats or placed 1 inch (2.54 cm) from the edge of the table and between the silverware setting. Make sure to space the chargers 2 feet from one another, from center to center (the size doesn't matter). Adjust the edge of the chargers to be an inch away from the edge of the table
  • Place a dinner plate over each charger, centering it evenly. If you will be offering soup or salad, place the bowl for this over the dinner plate and center it as well. Fold cloth napkins as desired or put them in a ring to make a decorative presentation. Set a prepared napkin on each plate or bowl to complete the look of the charger and service. Set out utensils, stemware and any serving dishes.
  • Serve the soup or salad. At the end of that round of service, remove the bowls to reveal the dinner plate. After you serve your main entrée and everyone has finished eating, take away the charger with the dinner plate still on it. This clears the table and leaves it ready for dessert serving. Charger plates are always removed before serving desserts.

Select chargers that complement your existing china and dining room décor. The general idea is to pick a solid color matching your curtains, plates and bowls, or chairs. Have fun mixing, matching and coming up with your perfect place setting.




Tablescapes, Charger, Plates, Ideas, Mix & Match, 

China, Metal,Wood, Glass, Plastic, Mother Of Pearl,Leather


  1. Thank you for the good advice on utilizing charger plates. It is true I learn something new everyday. Cant wait to shop around for vintage charger plates.

  2. I just like to google random things... Thanks for the info!

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  9. What do u use so plates don’t move around on chargers?

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  16. I know this post was years ago, but I have a question.
    The 12th picture you have showing an examples of chargers, the place setting is set with a small ceramic basket and 3 eggs. It makes a beautiful setting but was is the hostess or person seated there supposed to do with them? They must be removed before the 1st food is served. Or are they meant to be favors for each diner to take home?
    I've been to Yuletide holiday dinner parties where the hostess put a lovely little ceramic sleigh filled with chocolates and another that had a ceramic gift box on top of the place settings filled with butter mint & Jordan almonds.
    Should hostesses consider having a favor or small gift for each guest figured into her party budget? Should they be placed at each place setting, placed on a separate gift table or giving it to them when they leave for the night?
    Thank you for any answers you can give me.
    I hope you are still supporting your blog.

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