How to hold plates as a waitress

Updated February 21, 2017

Carrying plates from a restaurant kitchen to patrons' tables is harder than it looks, unless you know the right way to do it. When it comes to holding plates as a waitress, the "don'ts" are as important as the "do's." In some restaurants, you will be required to use a tray when holding more than one plate, so make sure to refer to your employee handbook before attempting to hold multiple plates without one.

Slide the plate onto your palm without touching the top surface of the rim of the plate. Use your fingers and thumb to balance the plate, with your thumb extended outward past the rim. Never grasp the top rim of the plate with your thumb or fingers -- only touch the bottom of the plate.

Reposition the plate to hold two at a time; instead of holding the plate on your palm, slide your three middle fingers under the plate so the palm is visible and the thumb and pinky extend over, but don't touch, the rim of the plate. Place the second plate on your palm, balancing it with your thumb and pinky.

Lower the middle finger beneath the first plate. Slide a third plate above the middle finger to hold three at a time.

Use your dominant hand to move the plates from your serving hand to the table.


Carrying multiple plates takes practice -- try it with empty plates before trying it at work. Always hold the plates away from your face.


Don't try to hold hotplates in hand. Pick up the hotplate with a cloth and carry it on a tray. Beginning servers should hold no more than two plates at a time and make multiple trips.

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About the Author

Delaware-based Daisy Cuinn has been writing professionally since 1997, when she became the features editor for her local biweekly music newspaper. She has been a staff writer and contributor to online and offline magazines, including "What It Is!," and Slashfood. Cuinn holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Temple University.