What Is a Charger Plate?

Find Answers To The Question, What Is A Charger Plate?

what is a charger plate- charger plaate ideas, uses, and material

Curious about what’s a charger plate? Perhaps you’re pondering what charger plates are used for or even what's the purpose of a charger plate? This article will provide you with all the details on what is charger plate, from its functionality to design inspirations and beyond.  

Charger plates—also known as service plates, underplates, or chop plates— are often misunderstood as a plate under plate, however they serve more than just plates that go under plates. They're essentially an elegant base beneath dinner plates during full-course meals at formal gatherings like weddings, banquets, large ceremonies, corporate events and other catered affairs. 

Larger than standard dinner plates, chargers for plates are available in various materials, including wood, plastic, metal, and glass. Instead of holding food, they are meticulously placed on the table prior to the guests' arrival. After the main course, they are removed before dessert is served. 

Origin and History 

What Is A Charger Plate

Well, the history of chargers dates back to 1275-1325. You may ask, why is it called a charger plate? Their name stems from the old English term "chargeour" which was derived from the Scottish term "cairgeour" which refers to as ‘any means for carrying heavy items’. Since the 19th century, these items have not only been functional but also signify elegance.  

Typically, larger than common dinner plates, they serve as a base for various dishes, including soup bowls and salad plates, enhancing the overall dining experience. Notably, they graced the tables at significant events like royal banquets and historic feasts, adding a touch of grandeur to the occasion. 

Popularity and Safety 

Although charger dinner plates often feature non-food-safe coatings and paints, they remain highly sought after for their decorative value. Since their introduction, there have been no significant reports of health issues related to their use, underscoring their safety when used appropriately. 

The Versatility of Plate Chargers: Materials and Uses 

Decorative charger plates have become essential elements in enhancing the aesthetic appeal of dining setups. Available in a plethora of materials such as metal, acrylic, wood, plastic, and glass, these plates offer a unique charm to your table settings. Despite their visual allure, it's important to recognize that many of these materials contain substances that aren't food-safe, designating them primarily for decorative use rather than direct food contact. 

Exploring Different Materials 

Chargers are available in a wide range of colors and designs. They can be crafted from materials such as wood, glass, acrylic, and plastic. These plates are typically shaped, varnished, and adorned to create a refined and polished look.

Experimenting with different colors for various wedding themes can be exciting. For instance, silver charger plates are perfect for anniversaries, while gold ones are ideal for weddings. With the wide range of options available, the choice of design will always depend on the specific theme you are aiming for. 

Gold Charger Plates 

Gold Charger Plates - what is a charger plate

Gold chargers exude elegance and sophistication, making them ideal for upscale dinners and special occasions. Their dazzling appearance can complement various color schemes, though they can sometimes overshadow other table elements. 

To strike a balance, pair these beauties with white plates and simple table linens. This combination provides a glamorous yet understated charger table setting. 

Shop Our Gold Charger Plates 

Wood Charger Plates 

Wood Charger Plates - what is a charger plate

Less common but uniquely charming, wood chargers bring a rustic and natural vibe to your dining table. Available in various shapes and sizes, some designs even retain the bark edges for an authentic touch. 

These plates are perfect for outdoor events or summer gatherings, adding a warm, earthy feel to your settings. However, they are more susceptible to scratches compared to other materials. 

Shop Our Wood Charger Plates 

Acrylic Charger Plates 

Acrylic Charger Plates - what is a charger plate


Acrylic chargers offer the aesthetic appeal of glass with enhanced durability. They are less prone to shattering and typically lighter, making them easier to handle when setting up large tables. With a wide range of colors available, they can easily match any party theme. 

For event planners working alone, these lightweight and robust plates are a practical choice, reducing the burden of handling heavy tableware 

Shop Our Acrylic Charger Plates   

Glass Charger Plates 

Glass Charger Plates - what is a charger plate

Glass chargers are synonymous with luxury and elegance. Available in clear, white with gold trims, or frosted glass, these plates often feature intricate patterns etched into their surfaces. 

These plates allow the tablecloth's design to subtly show through, adding a layer of sophistication. However, they can be a bit slippery, so handle them with care. 

Shop Our Glass Charger Plates 

What Is The Purpose Of a Charger Plate 

Purpose of a charger plate- what is a charger plate

What Are Charger Plates Used For 

For upscale dinner parties and special gatherings, charger plate setting is a crucial element that enhances the main course dishes presentation. These elegant pieces significantly improve the overall tablescape decor. 

Beyond aesthetics, chargers are practical too. Let's delve into what is a charger plate used for.  

  • Preventing Food Spills: They protect the tablecloth from accidental spills. 
  • Heat Protection: They shield the table from the heat of hot dishes. 
  • Elegant Presentation: Elevate the overall table setting. 

What Is The Difference Between a Placemat and a Charger 

Placemats and Charger Plates - what is a charger plate

Chargers and placemats share a common goal: safeguarding table linens while enhancing visual appeal. Both serve to prevent spills and stains, simultaneously elevating the aesthetics of your table setting

Nevertheless, their usage diverges significantly. Charger plates are typically removed after the dinner service, acting as an elegant base for the dinner plate throughout the meal. In contrast, placemats remain on the table for the entire meal, providing support for the dinner plate, utensils, and glassware. 

Chargers are often larger than dinner plates and can be crafted from diverse materials such as glass, metal, or plastic, offering various designs and colors. On the other hand, table placemats are typically made from materials like cotton, vinyl, or bamboo, available in a range of textures and hues to suit any occasion. 

Explore our premium placemats to bring elegance and sophistication to your next event. 

Selecting the Perfect Charger Plates 

selecting charger plates - what is a charger plate

To begin with, opt for plate chargers that align seamlessly with the event's theme or your overarching design concept. This will enable you to achieve a polished look and introduce a striking contrast between the components of your dinner table decor. 

Focus on a specific color that harmonizes with the table and dinner plates. For instance, if you use white dinner plates and tablecloths, gold charger plates or intricately designed bronze charger plates can enhance the overall presentation exquisitely. Pay attention to the hues in your centerpiece and table accents to create a harmonious blend. Experiment with metallic finishes or patterns that echo your event’s color scheme for a more integrated appearance. 

Utilize the color wheel for optimal color coordination, ensuring you can effortlessly select the ideal color scheme for the event. This tool can be invaluable in refining your choices and achieving a stunning visual effect. 

Coordinating Charger Plates 

Matching Charger Plates - what is a charger plate

Is it essential for every charger to be identical? Absolutely, as uniformity fosters a cohesive aesthetic. In design, consistency plays a pivotal role. This principle ensures your table arrangement exudes a luxurious ambiance. 

Take it a step further by selecting the plates that complement the tablecloth linens or other elements of your wedding decor. This attention to detail can elevate the overall visual harmony. 

Best Places To Shop For Charger Plateswhat is a charger plate- were to buy charger plates

Stay within your budget by shopping at discount stores and online retailers for your charger plates. Opt for reusable materials—they’re both economical and eco-friendly. Beyond your local budget party store, explore these shopping spots for fantastic deals:

  • Dollar Stores: Ideal for basics like budget-friendly charger plates in various colors and styles.
  • Big-Box Stores: Walmart and Target offer a wide selection of charger plates to suit any theme. Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma, and Pier 1 Imports offer a wide range of premium charger plates for various occasions and themes.
  • Online Retailers: Amazon, TableclothsFactory, and Etsy provide unique, customizable, and bulk charger plates. Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, and West Elm provide high-quality and trendy charger plates.
  • Craft Stores: Michaels and Joann Fabrics are perfect for DIY project materials and decorative charger plate ideas.
  • Warehouse Clubs: Costco and Sam’s Club offer bulk packs of charger plates at discounted prices.
  • Thrift Stores & Garage Sales: Great for finding quirky and affordable charger plates.
  • Home Goods Stores: Bed Bath & Beyond and HomeGoods offer stylish and elegant charger plates at reasonable prices.

Mastering the Art of Charger Plate Setup 

Charger plates should be set in place when guests arrive. Most hosts keep the plates out throughout the main course, removing them before serving dessert. This practice not only adds to the design and decor but also enhances the overall dining experience.  

charger plate setting- what is a charger plate

Setting up charger plates for a formal dinner or event can greatly enhance the overall dining experience. By following these steps, you can fully know how to use chargers efficiently and ensure a beautifully arranged table that impresses your guests and creates a memorable atmosphere. 

Steps for Setting Your Charger Plates 

  1. Set Your Tablecloth: Begin by evenly placing your tablecloth and any mats you plan to use. 
  2. Choose a Design: Select the plate chargers that match your theme, considering the host's preferred design, style, and color. 
  3. Charger Place Setting: Place a charger at each seat. Position them over the placemats, ensuring at least 2 feet of space between each plate and 1 inch away from the table's edge or corner. 
  4. Set Your Dinner Plate: Center a dinner plate on each charger. If serving salad or soup, you can also place a bowl over the dinner plate, ensuring it is centered as well. Add a decorative touch with table linen napkins placed in napkin rings and set them on each plate. Arrange all the necessary serving dishes and utensils. 
  5. Serve the Food: Once the food is served, allow guests to finish eating before removing these plates. The dinner plate should remain on the charger plate until it is removed before serving dessert. 


By carefully following these steps, you ensure a flawless and elegant table setting. The thoughtful arrangement of chargers not only contributes to a sophisticated dining experience but also allows for creativity and personalization, leaving a lasting impression on your guests, making full utilization of their meaning.  

You can even use these under plates at casual parties, such as birthdays or themed events, to add texture and depth to your decorations. Their versatility makes them a fun and stylish addition to any gathering, including outdoor parties. 

Explore our extensive collection of charger plates, available in a variety of styles and finishes. From stunning metallic designs to elegant glass and rustic wooden options, Tableclothsfactory has everything you need. Thinking of enhancing your table settings but not sure where to begin? We're here to assist! Connect with one of our decor experts who will guide you through the process, answer all your questions, and help you design the perfect table arrangement. Thanks for visiting Tableclothsfactory, and be sure to check out our full range of dinnerware, event props, table linens, and other decorations!

Written By Naomi Roberts - Updated May 6, 2024

Naomi has over five years of experience helping couples plan their nuptials. She is known for her impeccable taste and attention to detail. Her passion for romance and celebration is matched only by her organizational skills, ensuring every couple's special day is as seamless as it is enchanting.

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