What Is A Charger Plate?

Time of issue: 2024-05-07 16:57:25
What Is A Charger Plate?


In the world of fine dining and elegant events, the presentation of a table setting is nearly as important as the food and beverages served. One element that adds sophistication and a decorative touch to table settings is the charge plate, also known as a charger plate. This article will explain what a charger plate is, its purpose, and how it is used to enhance dining experiences.

What is a Charger Plate?

A charge plate, commonly referred to as a charger plate, is a large, decorative base plate used in formal dining settings. Typically, it is placed at each setting before guests arrive and remains on the table throughout the course of a meal until the dessert is served. Charger plates are larger than regular dinner plates, measuring typically 12 inches in diameter, and serve as an underplate for courses that precede dessert.

What Are Types Of Charger Plates?

What Are Types Of Charger Plates?

Charger plates, often used as base settings for formal dining tables, come in a variety of materials and styles. They serve not only as an elegant decor element but also have practical uses in table setting. Understanding the different types of charger plates can help you choose the right style to complement your dining decor and enhance your guests' experience. Here’s a look at the most popular types of charger plates available.

Types of Charger Plates by Material

Glass Charger Plates:

Appearance: These chargers can be clear, frosted, or patterned with a variety of designs. They often feature embellishments such as beads or colored glass.

Use: Glass charger plates are versatile and suitable for both formal and semi-formal table settings. They can add a touch of elegance without overpowering the dinnerware.

Metal Charger Plates:

Appearance: Made from materials like stainless steel, brass, or aluminum, metal charger plates can be polished or matte and are sometimes hammered or engraved for extra texture.

Use: Metal chargers are ideal for events that call for a bold, elegant look. They are particularly popular in settings that aim for a glamorous or rustic vibe.

Ceramic Charger Plates:

Appearance: These chargers are often painted or glazed and can feature intricate designs and vibrant colors.

Use: Ceramic chargers are great for adding a traditional or country-style charm to a table. They are often used in settings that emphasize a homemade, cozy dining experience.

Wood Charger Plates:

Appearance: Wood chargers can range from sleek and polished to rustic and distressed. They can be made from a variety of woods, each adding a different character to the table.

Use: Wood charger plates are best for rustic-themed dinners or outdoor events. They bring a natural, earthy element to the table setting.

Acrylic and Plastic Charger Plates:

Appearance: These are available in a multitude of colors and styles, often mimicking the look of more expensive materials.

Use: Acrylic and plastic chargers are a cost-effective alternative for large events like weddings and banquets where large quantities are needed without sacrificing style.

Styling Tips for Charger Plates

Coordinate with Theme: Choose a charger plate that complements the theme and color scheme of your event. The charger should enhance, not distract from, the overall table setting.

Consider the Occasion: Match the formality of the charger plate with the occasion. Glass and metal chargers generally lend themselves to more formal settings, while wood and plastic are more casual.

Mix and Match: Don’t be afraid to mix textures and layers in your table setting. A glass charger can look stunning when layered over a larger, subtly textured metal or wood charger.

What Is a Charger Plate Used For?

What Is a Charger Plate Used For?

Charger plates, also known as service plates, underplates, or chop plates, are much more than mere decorative pieces in a dining setup. They serve multiple purposes that enhance the eating experience at formal events, restaurants, and special family gatherings.

Aesthetic Enhancement:

Table Setting Foundation: Charger plates are usually the first items placed on the table linen. They set the tone and style of the meal, enhancing the table's visual appeal.

Theme Reinforcement: Whether it’s a wedding, banquet, or holiday dinner, charger plates can help reinforce the event’s theme through their color, material, and design.

Practical Uses:

Keeps Dinnerware Clean: By acting as a base for soup bowls, salad plates, and dinner plates, charger plates catch any spills or crumbs that might otherwise fall directly onto the tablecloth.

Heat Retention: Particularly with metal or ceramic chargers, the plates help retain the warmth of the dish placed on top, keeping food warmer during the meal.

Dining Etiquette:

Course Transition: Charger plates remain on the table from the beginning of the meal until just before the dessert is served. They help guide the flow of service through various courses.

Spacing and Layout: They provide a guide for setting the spacing of cutlery and glassware, ensuring that each setting is uniform and tidy.

Types of Charger Plates and Their Best Uses

Metal Chargers: Best for opulent, grand celebrations, adding a shimmering touch to the table.

Glass Chargers: Offer a versatile look that can be simple or ornate, suitable for modern and elegant dinners.

Ceramic Chargers: Perfect for traditional settings, providing a classic and timeless appeal.

Wood Chargers: Ideal for rustic-themed events or dinners where a natural, earthy feel is desired.

Maintenance and Care

The care of charger plates depends on their material:

Cleaning: Most charger plates should be hand-washed due to their decorative finishes. Metal and plastic chargers are generally more durable, while glass and ceramic might require more careful handling.

Storage: Store charger plates in a dry place with protective dividers between them to prevent scratches and chips.

How To Use A Charger Plate?

Charger plates are more than just decorative accents for the table; they are an integral part of setting a formal dining scene. Whether you’re hosting a dinner party, a wedding reception, or a festive gathering, knowing how to use a charger plate can elevate your table setting and enhance your guests' dining experience. 

Setting the Table with Charger Plates


Place the charger plate at each seat on the table. The charger should be centered where the centerpiece would normally sit and should align with the chair directly in front of it.

Ensure the bottom edge of the charger is aligned with the edge of the table or is set about one inch from the edge for a uniform look.

Arrangement of Other Tableware:

Dinner Plate: The dinner plate is placed directly on top of the charger. It remains there until it is either exchanged with another course plate or removed altogether when the meal transitions to dessert.

Soup Bowls and Salad Plates: These can also sit on the charger if they precede the main course. Each should be removed after the respective course is finished.

Silverware Setting:

Arrange the silverware around the charger according to the order of use, from the outside in. Forks typically go to the left, while knives (blade facing inwards) and spoons go to the right.

Glassware and Napkin Placement:

Position the glassware at the top right of the charger plate. Start with the water glass closest to the guest, followed by wine glasses or other beverage glasses.

Napkins can be placed either on top of the charger before the dinner plate is added, to the left of the forks, or under the forks if space allows.

Choosing the Right Charger Plates

Material: Select a material that complements the theme and level of formality of your event. Glass and ceramic chargers offer a classic look, while metal or wood can provide a modern or rustic appearance, respectively.

Color and Pattern: Choose colors and patterns that match or contrast nicely with your table linens and dinnerware. Remember, chargers are meant to accentuate your table setting, not overpower it.

Do and Don’t of Using Charger Plates

Do keep the charger on the table throughout the main course and remove it before serving dessert.

Don’t serve food directly on the charger, as most are not meant for direct food contact unless specified by the manufacturer.

Do use chargers to protect your tablecloth from spills and stains.

Don’t overcrowd the table. Ensure each guest has ample space to dine comfortably without the settings encroaching on one another.

What Are FAQ Of Charge Plate?

What is a charger plate?

A charger plate is a large, decorative base plate used in multi-course settings. It is placed at each seat and holds the bowls and plates that are used throughout the meal.

What materials are charger plates made from?

Charger plates can be made from various materials, including but not limited to glass, ceramic, metal, wood, and plastic. Each material offers a different aesthetic and can complement various tablescapes.

Why use charger plates?

Charger plates enhance the look of a table setting, adding elegance and sophistication. They also protect the tablecloth from spills and stains and help retain the heat in the dinnerware placed on top.

When are charger plates removed from the table?

Charger plates stay on the table for the duration of the meal until the dessert course is served. At that point, they are removed to make space for dessert plates.

How do you set a table with charger plates?

Place the charger plate at each setting about one inch from the edge of the table. Arrange all eating plates and bowls on top of the charger. Ensure that silverware, glassware, and napkins are arranged around the charger as per the rules of formal table setting.

Can charger plates be used for serving food?

No, charger plates are not intended for food to be served directly on them. They act as a base for the bowls and plates that are used throughout the dining experience.

How should charger plates be cleaned?

The cleaning method depends on the material of the charger plate. Most metal and plastic chargers can be wiped down with a damp cloth. Glass and ceramic chargers might require hand washing with mild soap and water. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions for specific cleaning guidelines.

Are charger plates necessary for formal events?

While not absolutely necessary, charger plates are a standard in formal dining and are expected at upscale events, weddings, and fine dining restaurants. They are key to completing the aesthetic of a formal table setting.

Can charger plates be reused?

Yes, charger plates are designed for multiple uses. With proper care and storage, they can last for many years, making them a worthwhile investment for event planners and restaurateurs.

How are charger plates stored?

Charger plates should be stored in a cool, dry place. If stacking charger plates, it's wise to place a soft cloth between each plate to prevent scratches, especially for glass and ceramic plates.


Charge plates are a key element in sophisticated table settings, enhancing the aesthetic appeal and functionality of dining presentations. Whether made from metal, glass, ceramic, wood, or plastic, these decorative plates set the tone for a meal, marking an occasion as special and thoughtfully prepared. Understanding the use and benefits of charge plates can greatly elevate the dining experience at any formal event.