With the hectic way most people live these days they often opt for fast foods and snacks that can be consumed on the go. This can mean food served in containers that can be bunched up and thrown away or sandwiches and drinks. For some it may mean having a proper meal a few times a week if they can spare the time. If you are part of this crowd of very busy people, formal dining may be cumbersome or a very welcome treat. Some actually look forward to the holidays where they can entertain and bring out their best china. They can have more time sitting down on the dinner table and enjoying fine food and good company.
When it comes to formal dining there are basic rules to be followed when setting up the table. The placement of flatware, chinaware and stemware, even the distance of the plates from the edge of the table have to be precise. One thing that brings elegance to a formal dinner setting is the use of charger plates. A charger plate is a large plate that is not used for serving food. Technically it is placed on the table instead of a placemat to protect the table linen from stains and remove the sense of distance among the guests that can be formed when placemats are used. It is made from different materials and come in different shapes and sizes. Below are some ideas on how to use charger plates.
- Decide on the pattern of the chinaware you plan to use for the table setting. The pattern you select can echo the theme of the party or the season.
- Choose the main color that you want to use to enhance the table setting. The main color can be used for the flowers, the candles, the table napkins and napkin rings and for the charger plates. If you are using unpatterned chinaware with silver trim, silver-colored charger plates will be your ideal choice. This should not prevent you from using other colors to provide a great contrast and give more color to your table setting. Navy blue charger plates will provide a very elegant and rich background against white china with silver trim. Gold trims will look wonderful when contrasted with burgundy or wine colored charger plates.
- Place the charger plate flush against the edge of the table. Over it place the dinner plate. If you are going to serve soup or salad, place the soup plate or salad bowl over the dinner plate. The table napkin, with or without a napkin ring goes over the top of the soup plate or the salad bowl. Make sure that you center each plate that you place over each other.
- Set out the rest of the flatware and the stem ware according to the number of dishes and drinks you will be serving.
- Once the guests are seated and have removed their table napkins, serve the soup or salad immediately. After your guests have finished, the used plate should be removed to reveal the dinner plate. The charger plate, together with the dinner plate should be removed after the main course has been eaten to clear the table for the dessert. If the dinner plate is soiled while the guest is eating the salad or the soup, replace the dinner plate with a new one but do not remove the charger plate yet.
Although charger plates are mostly used during formal dinner settings you can also use this on semi-formal and even informal dinners. Since they come in a variety of colors, sizes and designs, choose one that will go well with the type of dinner you will be serving and have a great time showing your creativity in turning a formal table ware into something that you can use more regularly.