What is a Charger Plate? Uses, Materials, Etiquette, & More

What is a Charger Plate? Uses, Materials, Etiquette, & More

Service plate, large plate, chop plate, and underplate are all the names a charger plate goes by. A charger plate is a decorative base setting used during formal events and occasions for placing other dinnerware to make the dining experience more elegant. It is not used in direct contact with food as it is merely for decorative purposes. It can be used at weddings, catered events, banquets, and upscale parties. It is also used in most fine-dining restaurants.  

Charger plate for Christmas
Charger plate for Christmas
Blue charger plate

By using charger plates, you can serve a good number of course meals elegantly. Before each course meal is placed on the charger, it is served on a separate plate or bowl. They are available in various materials, shapes, and colors with different diameters and lengths as well. The varieties made available are suitable for different event styles and moods. You can even make your choice based on the décor you intend on matching.   

Charger plates are used to serve main dinner entrees, soup bowls, and salad plates. They are to be removed from the table after the main course and before serving desserts. This allows you to create a unique presentation of meals for your guests. 

Uses of Charger Plates

You might think of a charger plate as just a decorative piece or an aesthetically pleasing item that creates ambiance and anchors a dining table but aside from this primary use, it has a good number of other practical purposes. These uses include:


Christmas-themed charger plate
Charger plate as tray
Charger plate as centerpiece
  • Heat retainment: Capable of retaining heat in the dinnerware. This is also why they are placed underneath bowls and plates.   
  • Centerpiece item: It can be used to create a colorful base by placing floral centerpieces on the surface. It can be used as a centerpiece itself by grouping a set of pillar candles and aligning them decoratively.  
  • Platters and trays: Can be used to pass desserts and appetizers. Before making use of a charger in this manner, ensure that it is coated in a food-safe material as charger plates are not used to serve food directly. You can make use of a linen napkin or a doily as food-safe material.   
  • Protection: Perfect way to prevent stains and the sticking of dirt on tablecloths and the table itself. Spills, tiny pieces of food, and other messes that could compromise the neat layout and purity of the table are caught by the charger plate. By using charger plates, you prevent your table linens and tables from appearing dirty during service or special events. 

How To Make Use of Charger Plates

Charger plate for table setup

To be able to properly achieve a decorative blend when using charger plates, you most likely would require some clarification especially if you are new to the concept. With the instructions in the steps below, you can create an appealing look with charger plates. 

#Step 1: Select the right charger plates

Glass charger plate table setup


To complement the already existing and enhance the visual interest of your table and the entire feel of your event, you would need to choose your charger plates carefully.  The linens, beverage glasses, serving platters, bowls, and the type of plates you use are the materials that would contribute little details to produce a whole look. Besides every charger plate, floral arrangements, fabric table overlays, tablecloths or centerpieces that should also be placed to complete the look. 

#Step 2: Set your table



At every corresponding place setting of each guest, set a charger plate on top of a table mat or tablecloth. It should be placed below the beverage glasses and in between the arranged flatware. Beware of the spacing. Each piece should not be less than two feet from the other. This is to enable you to give every guest sufficient elbow room. 

Powder blue charger plate

#Step 3: Properly align your table accessories

Black charger plate



The next step to achieving a decorative table setting is to properly coordinate other accessories. These include your name cards or menu cards, napkin rings, and linen napkins. These accessories are to be set at the center of the charger plates right before the meal is served. 

#Step 4: Serve, clean, and serve



Now that your table is set, accessories have been properly aligned, and your guests are seated and ready to be served, place dinner entrees, soup bowls, and salad plates on top of the charger plates. After every meal course, ensure that all charger plates are wiped clean or replaced so that the purity of every table is neatly maintained. 

White charger plate

Charger Plates Formalities and Etiquette Rules

As with a lot of other formal and traditional settings, there are ceremonial codes and conventional decorum that should be adhered to while making use of decorative table pieces like charger plates. Following these specific rules, enables you to imbibe a customary behavior that is required for informal and upscale events.  Etiquette rules regarding the use of charger plates include:

Wooden charger plate for thanksgiving
Gold charger plate
Gold charger plate
Textured gold charger plate

#Rule 1: Start preparations early

Before the arrival of guests, charger plates should already be placed and properly dressed. 

#Rule 2: Place chargers properly using placement guidelines

With experience, you might have everything at your fingertips but irrespective of whether you are new to the concept or you are already a pro, be sure to follow proper guidelines judiciously. To create a suitable alignment, place your charger plates away from each table's bottom edge while maintaining a distance of one inch (2.54 centimeters).

#Rule 3: Do not serve food directly on a charger plate

Unless a charger plate is coated in a material safe for food, do not serve any meal directly on the surface of a charger. 

#Rule 4: Do not remove plates until after guests have finished eating

Ensure that all guests have finished having their main entrée before you remove the charger plates from each table. Knowing how and when to take chargers off the table is important. While you are removing all charger plates, take them while the dinner plates or soup bowls are still on top. This enables you to prepare the table and your guests for the next meal course. 

Charger plate: Materials Used

Just in the same way, there is variety in color and shape, charger plates are also made out of various materials.  Materials include:

  • Porcelain 
  • Glass 
  • Acrylic 
  • Rattan 
  • Faux wood 
  • Melamine 
  • Stainless steel 
  • Chrome 
  • Plastic

Purchase Guide: Choosing the right charger plate

Selecting the right charger plates for your dining area or events requires certain considerations, as majorly listed below;

  • Go for eco-friendly options: With the passing of every year, the growth of environmental concerns spurs. Opting for more eco-friendly options with every purchase is a trend that has positive effects on our environment. To follow the trend, choose one that are produced from sustainable materials or alternatives. If you own an establishment that caters to formal occasions and events, using sustainably sourced materials would give your brand a good front. Charger plates made from rattan are good examples. 
  • Ensure your charger plate is dishwasher safe: To be able to serve efficiently, opt for charger plates that are safe for fast cleaning in dishwashers. 
  • Feed your style: Charger plates are made available in a variety of colors and shapes. Depending on your preferences and the décor you intend on matching, round and square charger plates are suitable options. You can also go natural colors or plain white.
Fancy charger plate

Irrespective of the event you are hosting or catering for, whether it is a wedding, a formal get-together, or a reunion, making use of charger plates in your table setting is an important part of creating wholesomeness. 

Remember, the general idea in decoration is to blend in with the existing décor. Stick to etiquette rules and ensure you choose charger plates that have solid matching colors, so your creativity is not limited or restricted. Take advantage, blend in, mix match textures and enjoy!

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