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how to set a table with chargers (video)

how to set a table with chargers (video)

A great way to add something special to your holiday table is to use charger plates. Chargers, sometimes referred to as service plates, are essentially oversized plates that can help dress up your dining table. They will bring texture, interest, and color to your tabletop, plus they’re a quick and easy way to mix things up in the dining room.

an elegant mix: understated table set with crisp whiteware and natural hyacinth chargers

So how do you set a table using chargers?

  • Never put food directly onto a charger. According to the Emily Post Institute, the word charger comes from the French word chargeour, which means, ‘to load’, however the point is to load plates – not food – onto a charger.
  • Chargers should sit in the center of each guest’s place setting. Stack plates for dinner, salad, and soup onto the center of the charger and situate so that it all sits about an inch from the edge of the table. The bread plate should be in the upper left corner of the place setting when guests are seated, not on the charger.
  • After each course, the respective plate or bowl is removed.  You can remove the charger at any time before dessert is served. Some hosts clear chargers before the main course is served, others wait until the main course is finished and then remove the charger with the dinner plate. Just be sure it’s gone when dessert arrives.  

    Now that you understand the charger basics, have fun with your place settings. I found that chargers work with or without placemats and look especially good with a pretty runner. Or, if you want to use a tablecloth, go for it - just consider skipping the placemats. Here are a few ideas:

    • Play with textures. Chargers are available in a wide range of finishes, including metal, glass, and natural textiles. Look around at what you’re already using to set the table and think about mixing and matching. 
      Linens: If you have a runner in a flat weave, try chargers with an opposite look and feel, such as a tactile basket weave style. Likewise, if your linens have a soft or nubby feel, consider metallic or shiny chargers for contrast. 
      Dinnerware: Another idea is to mix chargers with complementary dining and service plates. Sophisticated white porcelain is elegant atop crisp metallic chargers, and handmade stoneware will look great against natural, textured chargers. Other materials to consider include glass, pewter, and silver plate.

    mixed hyacinth chargers and autumn textiles

    •  Play with colors and prints. I love combining florals and graphic prints with a variety of solids. A stroll through the tag showrooms turned up beautiful options for Thanksgiving in rich jacquards and unique weaves. I used patterned runners, napkins, placemats, and tablecloths to anchor a few table ‘looks’ and then tossed in solids to keep things grounded. 

    I loved the final looks produced by my charger experiment (if you're curious, see tag's full selection of chargers here). And check out this short video to see for yourself... I used several hyacinth and seagrass chargers with sonoma dishware, which I thought looked great against the fall shades and Thanksgiving turkey-themed placecard holders:

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