Etiquette for Charger Plates

Written by tamiya king
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Etiquette for Charger Plates
Charger plates are used both for decoration and function in formal place settings. (place setting image by robert lerich from Fotolia.com)

If you're planning a formal dinner party, you'll want to make sure that your table is looking its best before guests arrive. Charger plates can be used in the setting for several purposes, but also serve as a creative source of decoration that will make your overall table setting stand out.

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Where to Place Chargers

A charger plate should be place in front of each chair at the table as the central focus of each setting. The spoons and knife are placed to the left of the charger plate, while the forks for the salad, dessert, and main course are positioned to the right.

Plate and Dish Placement

Smaller dishes, such as the salad plate and soup bowl, can be placed on the charger plate, so the tablecloth won't get stained during the meal. The charger is removed when the main course is served; the charger plate should be replaced with the dinner plate.

Charger Color and Style

Formal plate chargers can be featured on a place setting in the same material as the plate for the main course. It is also acceptable to use metallic colours for the charger that complement the rest of the table setting (e.g., gold chargers with gold flatware, or a centrepiece with orange or gold shades). Chargers should also be in the same shape as the dinner plate (i.e., circular plates with circular chargers, square plates with square chargers).

How Not to Use the Charger

It is not appropriate to eat food directly from the charger plate; dishes and bowls are only to be placed on top of the charger. Guests should also refrain from using silverware on the charger, as these decorative plates may be easily scratched, especially if they are not made from fine china.

Additional Tips

While the charger is removed from the table once the main course is served (dessert is not customarily served on charger plates), it is acceptable to leave the charger on the table when the table is not in use. This makes for ideal presentation of the table; chargers can also be changed to coordinate with the table's decor (e.g., red chargers for a Christmas table setting).

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