Use Charger Plates to Enhance the Ambiance at Dinner Parties and Special Events

How to Choose and Use Charger Plates

Charger Plates: For Adding Extra Style and Class

Just when you thought you knew everything about table settings, the charger plate is taking center stage at upscale restaurants, elegant weddings, formal parties, and other noteworthy events where a refined touch makes all the difference. A charger plate is a large dish that serves as a base for the appetizer plates, dinner plates and bowls that are changed for each course. The charger plate, like a perfectly arranged bouquet of flowers, or expertly polished sterling silver cutlery, – creates a swanky ambience, just by being there.

Consider the Charger

Charger plates, also known as chop plates, service plates or under plates, are a decorative addition to the dinner table. They serve as a handsome base for dinner plates, appetizer/salad dishes, soup bowls, etc., and they remain in place while each course is being served as each course is placed on top of them. Charger plates stay on the table for the duration of the meal – until the dessert is served. They are larger than the other plates and are usually decorative in style, to enhance the atmosphere on the tabletop. Because they are used to display all the other dishes, they are sometimes referred to as service plates. Practically speaking, charger plates help protect your tabletop and tablecloth from spills, heat, and stains, while, aesthetically, they serve to complete the look and décor of any upscale, special-occasion meal.

History of Charger Plates

Charger plates have been used since the 1800s, though the word appears in 13th-century Middle English texts where it is spelled as, “chargeour,” which means a large platter or plate that bears a load. Back in the day, the original chargeours were more like oversized platters and were big enough to serve large roasts at official gatherings and royal feasts. Today’s charger plate also bears a load, so to speak: of the array of dinnerware plates meant for all the other courses. Because diners do not eat directly from charger plates, they can be made from materials that are not food-safe. They come in many shapes, such as round, square, and octagon; and in many colors ranging from silver, gold and bronze to purple, blue, green and orange, just to name a few. They can also be found in an array of materials, such as glass, metal, wood, china, porcelain, melamine, acrylic, mirrored glass and rattan.

Choosing the right charger plate

Choosing the Right Charger Plate

Due to the large variety of charger plates on the market; restauranteurs, caterers, and party planners can choose from many styles and shapes to fit their event’s unique style and ambience, thus providing the finishing touch to any fine-dining experience. To select the right charger plate, take into account the décor and color that has been chosen, and then consider the other dinnerware that will be placed on top of the charger plate. Choose a charger plate that will help complement the style of the room, the tabletop, the linen as well as the dinnerware. Charger plates can be placed directly on the tablecloth, or for a layered look, on top of a placemat.

Charger plates vary in size, but the average charger is about 13 or 14 inches in diameter. They take up more room than the standard dinner plate, so take that into consideration when figuring out the number of place settings and guests that can be seated at any table. Ideally, there should be about 24 inches between charger plates to give guests ample room.

How to Correctly Use a Charger Plate

Charger plates are set on the placement or tablecloth, with the glassware at the top side of the charger plate prior to the meal. Once the charger plate is set, you can align the napkins, flatware, and place cards accordingly. If wait staff members will be doing the serving, remind them that the charger plate remains on the table, while the salad plates, soup bowls, and entrée plates are placed, removed, and then replaced on top of the charger. In addition, because charger plates are used to catch spills and crumbs, wait staff should give the chargers a quick wipe down between courses, if needed, to keep everything tidy and clean.

Correctly use a charger plate

In the same way that charger plates should be ready and in place when guests arrive, they should always be removed from the table – with the dinner plate on top – after your guests have finished eating their main course. In this way, the table is ready for dessert, as chargers are never used for the final course.

Charger Plates: Add Sophistication to Any Meal

With just a little effort and a small financial outlay, charger plates can add to the ambience and attractiveness of any event, big or small. Even a casual dinner party can be enhanced with a colorful eye-catching charger plate. Use a charger plate with a placemat, or set the charger directly on the tablecloth, to create the desired look. To use them properly, remember to place the charger plates on the table before guests arrive and ensure that they don’t come directly in contact with the food. The soup bowls, fish/salad plate, and entrée dishes are placed on top of the charger as the courses change, and the charger itself is removed before dessert is served. Use the charger plate to set a mood, create an elegant atmosphere, and add unforgettable glamour and sophistication to any event.

A How To Guide: Dinner Party Cheese Platters

Cheese platters

For people hosting upscale dinner parties, it’s all about the food! Instead of the standard sliced cheeses from the ready-made section of the local grocery store deli, sophisticated foodies are opting for high-quality cheeses that are conversation pieces.

There are several questions people should consider before purchasing cheeses for a dinner party.

  • How many people will be attending?
  • Will the cheese course be an appetizer or an after-dinner treat?
  • Are there any particular must-try cheeses or ones that should be avoided?
  • What is the overall budget?

Expert Tips: Dinner Party Appetizers

Party Appetizers

With holiday dinner parties just around the corner, this article highlights helpful expert tips for choosing standout, delicious dinner party appetizers.

  • Guests – For hosts that know their guests likes and dislikes, consider serving a variety of appetizers that appeal to select tastes. However, it’s always fun to experiment and throw in a few new appetizers to help expand guests’ food repertoires.
  • Event Details – Tailor the appetizers to the event. Is the event a bunch, luncheon, afternoon tea or a more formal dinner party? The time of day will help hosts determine if they should serve family or buffet styles and cold or hot foods. For example, midday gatherings can offer quiches, tea sandwiches, vegetable spreads and petite desserts. Evening events accommodate both hot and cold appetizers, cheese courses, olives, mixed nuts and small finger foods.

Etiquette Guide: Rehearsal Dinners

Rehearsal dinner

Rehearsal dinner parties are a wedding tradition. Etiquette dictates that the groom’s parents should host this event, allowing the groom’s mother the opportunity to entertain wedding guests. However, more couples are paying for their own weddings or families are choosing to help share expenses. Generally speaking, whoever pays for the dinner should have the deciding factor in rehearsal dinner details.

The following outlines general rehearsal dinner etiquette, making it easy for families, friends, brides and grooms everywhere to know what is expected.

  • Invites – Close family, friends and people participating in the wedding should be invited to the rehearsal dinner. This may include bridesmaids, ushers, flower girls, groomsmen and ring bearers. However, in some cultures, it’s customary to invite everyone who is invited to the wedding to the rehearsal dinner.

Choose Your Own Dinner Party Adventure

Dinner Party Adventure

Dinner parties are an imaginative adventure enjoyed by hosts and guests alike. Whether it’s throwing a themed dinner party or a culinary adventure into the unknown, there are several different types of traditional dinner parties.

  • Basic – Most dinner parties are informal. These types of dinner parties are perfect for friends, family or large gatherings. Whether it’s roasting chickens, grilling steak or sharing a big batch of New Mexico-style chili, informal dinner parties are simple. These types of parties may also involve passing dishes around a family-style table or having guests casually serving themselves from a buffet. Basic dinner parties are informal and homey. Traditionally, there are no wrong meals, but dessert usually consists of home-baked cakes, cobblers or pies. Simple dinner parties are often potluck-style, with hosts supplying entrees and asking guests to bring side dishes.

Hosting a Valentine’s Day Dinner Party

Valentine's Day Party

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, nothing is more romantic than throwing a special dinner party for friends, family and loved ones. Whether it’s having a couples’ party or a mixer for singles, Valentine’s Day is a classic gift-giving holiday celebrated worldwide.

Hosting a Valentine’s Day dinner party doesn’t need to be a daunting task. By following this simple checklist, hosts will be on their ways to throwing splendid Friday night Valentine’s Day bashes.

Modern Party Etiquette

Modern Party Etiquette

Long ago, women would go to school to learn formal etiquette training. In today’s more casual society, there are still several etiquette trends that are still followed. A source of confusion for most young adults, Just Charger Plates offer a glimpse into modern party etiquette.

  • Invitations – Always extend invitations with enough time for guests to plan and respond. Today, invitations can be done over the phone, via traditional paper mailings or even using digital services such as Evite. It’s thoughtful to include a GPS-friendly invite, as this makes it easier for guests to find locations. Guests should RSVP as soon as possible and if in doubt, over communication is better than casting assumptions.
  • Early – It’s important to arrive on time to a dinner party, but avoid arriving early as this can leave hosts feeling panicked.

Table Manners for Today’s Modern-Day Guest

Table Manners

The days of formal dinnertime etiquette are gone, but there are some general tips that guests should follow when attending a dinner party. To highlight today’s modern etiquette, Just Charger Plates offers helpful tips for guests.

  • Basic Rules – There are still basic rules that guests should follow, which includes not eating until everyone is served, always asking for someone to pass food instead of impolitely reaching over guests, informing hosts in advance about food allergies, trying everything on the plate to be polite, saying “thank you” and “please” while avoiding speaking with a full mouth and waiting to depart the dinner table until everyone is finished eating. Always compliment hosts, even if the dinner party does mimic a blue soup disaster straight out of “Bridget Jones’s Diary.”

Small Space Solutions: Dining Décor

Dining decor for small spaces

As more Americans are downsizing into smaller homes, this doesn’t necessarily mean that stylish dinner parties are soon to become a long-forgotten tradition. In fact, there are several ways that smaller homes can be designed and decorated to improve small living spaces and make entertaining more efficient.

  • Bars – Instead of the traditional oversized bar that takes up an entire wall of the dining area, consider opting for a wall-mounted bar. These are sleek and pair well with under the cabinet style lighting. Consider opting for glass cabinets for a modern, contemporary look.
  • Double Duty – Sleek entertainment units are perfect for great room areas that keep kitchen, dining and living rooms open for mingled conversations. Consider selecting a television consul that doubles as a faux fireplace.

A Guide to Surviving a Formal Dinner Party

Surviving a formal party

Formal dinner parties can be intimidating, but as long as guests know what to expect, these affairs can be fun-filled and entertaining.

To survive formal dinner parties, follow these helpful tips.

  • RSVP – Once the RSVP arrives, it’s polite to respond as soon as possible, preferably within a few days or a week after receiving the invitation. This helps make it easy for hosts to plan venue, meal and drink accommodations.
  • Dress – Dressing appropriately is a vital part of being a good formal dinner party guest. If the event is formal, then a suit and tie are likely appropriate, but if the event is casual, it’s still important to appear professional. This means leaving yoga pants at home and donning an outfit that is classy and tactful. This also shows appreciation and respect towards hosts.