Springtime is a popular season for home entertaining. Many hosts (and some restaurants) will use charger plates (also known as, "server plates"). The charger plate is an overly large plate located at each place setting at the beginning of the meal. Charger plates are an additional way of adding a splash of color or dash of elegance and fancy to your tablescape. Here are the general rules of etiquette involving charger plates.
The charger plate is already on the table, placed where the entrée plate belongs in the table setting, when the guests are seated.
Food is never directly placed on a charger plate. Instead, the charger plate remains on the table and the soup bowl (sometimes accompanied by its own underliner plate), the appetizer plate, and any other plate holding food that is served before the main course are placed on top of the charger plate.
The charger plate (and the food-bearing plate housed on it) are all removed prior to the main course being served. The entrée plate is put directly on the table/cloth.
Remember not to place food directly on the charger plate and you will be marvelously well-mannered at any dinner party.
Have a marvelous week - Catherine