For any type of special event or holiday meal, a beautifully set table adds that extra look of elegance and sophistication. Beautiful china and crystal are always a popular option, but even a simple place setting can be dressed up with the use of charger plates.
A Brief History
These are not a new table decorating trend, rather a revival of a very traditional option. First used in Europe in the late 1200s to the early 1300s, these were originally a very large, shallow platter type dish used for serving liquid types of items. However, the term charger to designate a large serving platter has been used since biblical times.
Over time these plates have evolved into a decorative element for the table. Today, charger plates are used under the dinner plate. Food is never served or eaten off of the charger, which allows for a variety of different types of finishes that could not be provided to actual place settings.
How to Use
With a formal place setting, charger plates are always selected to be slightly larger than the dinner plate. This creates a frame for the dinner plate that stands out from the tablecloth.
For example, if you had white china on a white tablecloth, the effect can be very monochromatic. By using a vibrant red or green charger, you can create a Christmas look. For a wedding, a gold or silver charger could be used, or you could match the wedding colors to the charger.
Chargers can also be used with patterned and colored table linens as well. Black chargers or the dark colors create a dramatic look while pastel colors are perfect for a summer event.
When using chargers, which are sometimes called chop plates, remember that they stay on the table during the main course. They will be removed with the dinner plate prior to serving the dessert.
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