Plate chargers have fallen out of fashion to the detriment of tables everywhere. In some cases they have been exchanged in favor of placemats, but nothing can really match the curated touch that these very fancy placemats (because yes, they are intended to catch your crumbs) can give your table. Charger plates are also referred to as chop plates, service plates, and even underplates.
These table decorations took off during the Middle Ages when they were used at formal events like weddings and state dinners. Back then they were known as a "chargeour," which essentially means "large platter."
However, chargers began gracing the table even earlier than that. Although we don't have any graphic depictions to confirm, you can even find chargers mentioned in the Bible. Check in Mark 6:25 and Matthew 14:8 of the King James Bible.
Today, plate chargers are an economical way for hostesses to add personality to their table. There are so many different materials, shapes, and sizes of charger. However, they are all united by two basic principles:
1. They are larger than the dining plates.
2. They never come in direct contact with any food.
How do you use a plate charger?
Different people use their plate chargers in slightly different ways. However, the official verdict on how they should be employed comes from Manners International. They have addressed this very question, and it turns out that there are crystal clear guidelines.
The charger plates should be on the table when the guests are seated. The soup, fish or salad course are served on top of the charger. It is customary for the charger plate to be removed prior to the serving of the entree or dinner course.
Some people however, prefer to leave the charger plate on the table during the entree because they enjoy the appearance of the charger. Regardless of if you remove the charge after the soup, fish, salad or entree, the charger plate should always be removed before the dessert course.
Now that you know why this lovely, decorative layer exists, I bet you won't be able to resist playing with them in your tablescapes. For summer, winter, Easter, or Fourth of July, there is a charger for every occasion.
Here are 17 examples to help spark your creativity.
1. Record Plate Chargers
These conversation-starting underplates are 12 x 0.4 x 12 inches and only 4.8 ounces. Hardly a burden to your table, these chargers are worth their weight in gold. Imagine trying to explain to your children what LPs were.
They are made out of a flexible material that easily withstands the heat of warm plates. They are also dishwasher safe. Get yourself a set at $17.99 each here.
2. Geometric Wicker Chargers
These would lovely with outdoor dinnerware, and their aesthetic is a very light tan and brown color would look fantastic under a bright plate of produce. They come shipped in sets of 4 for $95.00 here.
3. Diamond Charger Plate
Available in blue, purple, and white, the subdued smokiness of these Italian glass underplates is an understatement at its best. Their 13" diameter is surprisingly light, and their hammered look reflects light nicely.
When it comes to home accents, these are an understated and elegant option in their multitude of colors. Grab a set of 12 while they're on sale for $96.36 here.
4. Acacia Wood Plate Charger
At under half an ounce, these 7.25" x 6" platters are light as a feather. These would be right at home in the French countryside or deep in the heart of Texas. Asymmetrically shaped to play with the eye, these chargers are made out of a single, solid, eco-friendly piece of acacia wood.
The wood, of course, is responsible and environmentally farmed, that way you can enjoy the beauty of these hand-carved table settings with a clear conscience. Try them out on your table for $12.46 apiece here.
5. Copper Charger
Add some old world elegance to your home with this hand-hammered copper charger. Made with solid copper, these chargers gleam with a mirror like quality that will set your dishes off in their best light.
However, since they are made out of 100 percent natural materials and designed by Mediterranean artisans, the copper will naturally age and form a dark layer. The process will only add to the natural beauty though.
Can you imagine wine glasses full of red wine shimmering on the copper in the sunset? Brighten up your table now as they are currently on sale for $39.90.
6. Woven Leather Chargers
If you like the idea of leather at the table but are worried about offending strict vegetarians or just want a sustainable alternative, try these faux leather chargers great for indoor and outdoor use.
Plus at $7.19 each, you can always buy yourself another set here. These chargers are kitchen accessories you can afford to stock up on.
7. Conch Shell Plate Charger
It may look like a conch shell, but this glass charger plate is subtle enough for the dining room. Plus, unlike many options, it is both microwave and dishwasher safe.
This makes it an excellent option for those with kids who want functionality with all the beauty. Buy yourself a 2-pack here for $39.99.
8. Hand-Carved Mango Wood
Add some natural flair to your dining tables or lawn & garden furniture with this carved mango wood charger. With a 12" diameter and 2" deep, this underplate is an excellent choice for serving fruit salads, soups, or anything that goes in a bowl and is libel to spill out.
Crafted from a single piece of sustainable orchard mango-wood, complete with bark, you can be sure that these will be a sturdy choice for spring dining and outdoor decor. At $25 each, you can buy yourself a wood charger plate or two, or four.
9. Gold Bullet Primer
Prevent stains from settling into your table top with these rimmed gold chargers that can easily catch overflow or slops off plates. Its textured surface doubles its stain prevention power by stopping them from slowly trickling off the edge unnoticed.
Not to mention, they will be a gorgeous and sparkling addition to any tablescape. Enjoy a set of two for $39.99 here. They would add pizzazz to any rustic table or patio furniture, especially for summertime outdoor dining.
10. Mulberry Plate Charger
Adding a pop of solid color to your tablescape has never been easier. This glass charger comes in an unusual mulberry color that will undoubtedly wow your guests with its creative composition.
Pair with neutral table linens, and you've got a tablescape made for a dinner party. Made from blown glass, these table toppers are a steal at $16.99 each.
11. Hammered Silver Charger Plates
Don't leave your table undecorated between courses. Keep things cozy and classy with this elegant plate charger. Made from the toughest polypropylene material on the market, this charger is scratch proof and it won't easily break. It is also certified ECO friendly.
From afar they look like beaded dinner plates, and pair perfectly with understated rustic garden decor. If you love these scalloped edges, they're currently on sale. You can snag a 6-pack at 59 percent off for $27.99 here.
12. Diva Shell Charger
This shell charger will do an excellent job of helping retain heat in your guests' plates until you can serve them all. Furthermore, this daring diva is sure to add a dash of pizzaz to dining sets and be a wonderful conversation starter.
Just make sure to tell your guests that these beautiful underplates are handmade out of shell. Invest in a set of four for $35.99 here.
13. Gold Leaf Plate Charger
Keep your table crumb-free and stylish with this super shiny charger. Weighing in at 2.4 pounds, these plates are surprisingly compact. However, this makes them perfect for serving dessert or tapas.
Plus, the textured appearance of these gold charger plates is an unmistakably chic addition to any table deco. At $19.99 each, they are a great splurge for your summertime setup.
14. Wooden Round Chargers
With summer just around the corner, you're going to want to set your table a little more naturally, and this woodgrain design is perfect for vamping up any outdoor furniture.
Not to mention, they're help anchor down the table cloth when you eat outside with a summer breeze, which is one of the best parts of outdoor living. These wooden chargers come in packs of 12 for $59.99 here.
15. Royally Embossed Antique Charger
They're sure to give any meal that extra pomp and splendor with their shine, regardless of your home decor aesthetic. At $14.76 a piece, you can afford to buy yourself a few.
16. Golden, Braided Plate Chargers
Use these plate chargers indoors or out. Their sturdy, braided composition can catch crumbs or BBQ sauce. And they're easy to wipe off.
Plus, their color is neutral enough that you can pair it with almost any set of dishes that you have in your house. Pick yourself up a set of 6 for $24.99.
17. Crocheted Lace Charger
If you like the nostalgic look of days gone by, take a look at these hand-crocheted lace chargers. Perfect to offset your best china or to complement your everyday dishes.
And they're not even going to break the bank. Get your set for $11 apiece.