Charger plates: proper etiquette

Etiquette for charger plates | the Maypop

I mentioned these gorgeous Pottery Barn Black Inlay Chargers in yesterday’s post. It’s been a little while since we talked about etiquette or manners, so I thought I would follow up today with a brief post on charger etiquette.

In general, and particularly in formal settings, the charger plate is used to serve the courses preceding the main course, such as soup or salad. Although, the salad course historically came after the main course. In fact, we could digress completely on the topic of courses and their proper orders…

Nonetheless, the charger should be on the table when guests are seated. The early courses are served with the charger underneath. The charger is then removed prior the main course being served. At no point should food be served directly on the charger.

If you’re serving an informal dinner and are surrounded by your friends and family, then I think it’s okay to improvise on the charger etiquette.

For example, let’s say you serve crackers and pimento cheese around your kitchen island before dinner.  After this classic Southern appetizer, you lead your guests to your dining room, where you’ve set the table ahead of time with your newly monogrammed napkins and the dinner plate directly on top of a pretty charger.

Vintage monogram in fresh colors | the Maypop

via Southern Living

You and your guests then sit down for a dinner of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, and biscuits, all served family style.

And, in this case, I would say it is perfectly appropriate to enjoy your finger-licking goodness together, dinner plate on top of charger, and then remove both the dinner plate and the charger together, before serving warm peach cobbler and vanilla ice cream for dessert.

To sum, remove a charger after early courses but before the main course during a formal meal. During an informal meal, the charger may remain for the main course, but it should certainly be removed along with the dinner plate prior to serving dessert.


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