Are Chargers Essential to Setting a Pretty Table?

When I think of the glitz and glamour of holiday entertaining, it can really mess with my mind. So if we want to keep a more simple approach, we can’t let “glitz” dictate us.

The table. It can be overwhelming when you think of all the holiday entertaining tableware, that is usually NOT brought out on a daily basis.

Remember to KISS! Kee it Simple, Sisters!

I love reader-inspired questions here at RE. I recently heard from my friend, Carolyn, who asked a very good question:

I had some questions about chargers. I’ve never used them, don’t own any and wondered 1) what is their purpose 2) how do I pick a set (color, design, size) and 3) do you use them for every dinner party, just formal ones or just for holidays?

This is what I know about chargers:

-They are large decorative plates that sit beneath the course plates.

-They create a background for the meal.

-They really make a table pretty!

-Are they essential to entertaining? No.

-What’s the purpose of a charger? They are for decoration, so food is not to be served directly on a charger.

-Do they add to a table setting? Yes.

-What if your space is cramped? Don’t use them. It’s more important to fit people around the table comfortably than to worry about the table looking “perfect.”

-Do I use them only holidays? No. I keep them in an accessible place to use for all kinds of entertaining.

-Do I use them for everyday? Absolutely not.

-Do you keep them on the table for all courses? Some remove them when the main course arrives, but it’s up to you. Usually they should be removed (down to the placemats or table cloth) when dessert is served.

I like to encourage “newer” hostesses to borrow a set of chargers for a special party, rather than go out and buy brand new. In this case, I borrowed white chargers for this outdoor dinner party.

My friend borrowed my dishes, here, but used her own RED chargers for the table setting. So pretty!

I saw this beautiful blue color at Michaels the other day and text this photo to my friend Lindsay (they matched her dining room perfectly).

How to get started using chargers

-How many? Buy a set of 12.

-Where do you buy them? Inexpensive ones at Michaels or Dollar Tree. For more expensive chargers, the sky’s the limit … Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel.

-What colors do I have? I have a set of 12 gold and 12 silver. And then a set of 12 more pewter (silver), in the smaller size, that I use for outdoor entertaining. I bought all 12 of these at a yard sale for $5. Bargain! I recently bought 16 bronze colored chargers at Michaels for 80-cents each. ($1 on-sale plus a 20% off coupon.)

-What color do you use the most? Silver – because my “silverware” is silver.

But I also love gold, for holiday or fall-time entertaining.

Mix and match for holidays! Here I used gold and silver.

Have you ever used chargers under your dinner plates with holiday entertaining, and what’s your favorite color?

11 comments on “Are Chargers Essential to Setting a Pretty Table?”

  1. I gave away all of my holiday place mats before leaving Ukraine this summer, so we’ll be using my mom’s chargers when they arrive this week! I had the same thought to give them a whirl before buying any for myself! :)

  2. I’ve always wanted to use chargers but our dinner parties tend to be so casual that I just do regular old plates instead. I think it would be so fun to change it up though!

  3. I just love chargers!

    I have a set of purple (perfect with red plates for Valentines Day), a set of brown with a weave-like pattern (which I found at Grocery Outlet and used on my Thanksgiving table – did you see my post on this? I also showcased the velvet pumpkins I won on your site Sandy!) and a set of gold for Christmas/New Years.

    I like the red though and saw some at the Dollar Tree – hmmm…wonder if they still have them :-)

    I think another intended purpose is also to help keep your tablecloth clean?

  4. Love, love chargers. They are like a good piece of jewelry but on your table. I have them in many colors and textures. In reality, they make great strides in keeping your tablecloth clean. I like to place a lace doily (estate and garage sales) in between the plate and the charger. This way the dinner plate is less apt to slide around. I use them most of the time. Casual and formal.

  5. Fun to read this … I just purchased my first set of twelve red chargers at Michaels on sale + 20% off. I may need to go back and invest in other colors. Can’t wait to set the table for Christmas brunch in our newly remodeled kitchen. Always enjoy reading your blog!

  6. Sandy I really appreciate your take…the voice of reason…on chargers. I know they are being used everywhere and that makes a lot of gals feel the need to use them too.
    I did get a set at Wal-mart a few weeks ago for 99 cents each. I had fun creating a silver tablescape for a dinner party. But, as pretty and fun as it was…my plates…older and thus smaller….looked a little lost on the 13 inch chargers.
    Thanks too for explaining when they should come off the table.
    Wishing you a blessed and joyous Christmas.

  7. What beautiful table settings! I love using chargers, although I only have two sets. I have a beautiful set of walnut stained wood chargers that I use for elegant yet rustic table settings. I also have a basketweave rattan set of chargers that I use year ’round for special family meals. They are a little more casual, and look beautiful when we eat outdoors, too!

  8. I love using chargers if it works and it often depends on how many I have to seat. They can be pricey, it’s best to get them on sale. They do look beautiful but it’s not a necessity! Beautiful tables.

  9. Love your posts! I’m vacationing in Florida for the month of March and picked up water goblets from the dollar store…so pumped!! Been admiring yours for months now!!
    Can I ask what colour your walls are in the room above? Going home to paint but have to choose a colour first. I have an open concept bungalow so I need a colour that flows thru many rooms….Donna from Ottawa Canada

  10. Another question, what can you do to keep the dinner plate from sliding on a glass charger? I bought this beautiful plate and charger set and the plate slides all over the place. I refuse to return them because of how pretty they are. Any thoughts?

    • Maybe put tape on the bottom of the plates? That might work (masking tape). I haven’t had that happen, but I can see where there would be annoying! Let me know!

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