Take a few minutes and think of all the definitions you know for the word charger. This is what I came up with:
charger: someone who buys something and puts it on their credit card.
charger: something used to give a battery renewed strength.
charger: a person or animal that aggressively goes after another person or animal.
charger: a large dish or platter used as a coaster for other dishes. Also called a chop plate, service plate, or underplate.
(Can you add another one?)
I like the fourth definition. Let's talk about a decorative charger plate! It gets its "decorative" label because it never touches any food directly. Instead, it acts as an elegant and decorative coaster for dishes or bowls containing food. Since it doesn't have to hold food, it can be made of materials that regular dishes cannot be made of such as wood, mother of pearl, and even leather.
A charger plate is a unique way to add color or texture to a table setting. It is also an easy and inexpensive way to do seasonal decorating.
And yes, there is even etiquette for using charger plates! This can vary depending on the host or hostess. Generally, the plate should be set when guests arrive. Some hosts remove it before the food is served. Others place the first courses on the charger but then remove it before serving the entree. However, other people like the appearance of the plate combined with the dinner dishes and leave it on the table for the main meal. Almost all hostesses remove the charger plate before serving dessert.