Dining Etiquette Q&A – The Charger Plate

Most of the time, my etiquette email, etiquettebyemily@gmail.com, is fairly light on the inbox side. However, a few times throughout the week, I’ll have a reader’s question waiting to be answered. Today is such an occasion!

The charger plate – How do you use it? When do you remove it? Do you eat off of it?

Ok, first things first. You never eat directly off of the charger plate. When you remove it is quite dependent on what course you begin with. The charger may remain in place until the entrée course PLATE is served. If you aren’t changing plates, the charger should be removed. If you are beginning with a fish course that has its own plate, the charger may remain on the table.

Traditionally, the charger dictated the width of a place setting. Since plates were oftentimes dishes up in the kitchen and then brought out, the charger helped the host know where to set the flatware, glassware, etc.

Personal story: The year from Christmas Eve I decided to tackle the Feast of the Seven Fishes. However, after our Candlelight Service, which went nearly an hour and a half, we didn’t have much time to stuff our pieholes (classy, huh?) before heading off to Midnight Mass. Instead of attempting to wash the salad/dessert plates or soup bowls between courses, I decided to serve everything off of the entrée plate – the main plate, that is. Therefore, while my husband was pouring wine, I went ahead and removed the chargers.

In very nice restaurants, they will occasionally remove the charger completely before you begin the meal. That’s perfectly acceptable. The only rule with chargers is they MUST be removed by the time the dinner plate hits the table.

Here is my favorite etiquette expert’s take on formal table settings. I’ve used this guide regularly, and it always comes in handy! http://emilypost.com/advice/formal-place-setting/ Note: For the most formal of meals, salad is served after the main course, so the salad fork is closer to the plate than the dinner fork. Also, in this illustration it is mentioned that the napkin can go under the forks is space is very tight. In her earlier books, this was a major no-no for Mrs. Post.

Thank you for reading!!

 

2017 Announcement #1

Happy New Year! I am so excited about some of the blog changes coming in 2017, and I hope you will be, too!

I feel like I need to make a confession. I am not prim and proper. I simply have a love of all things etiquette. I’m going to take the easy way out and blame it on being a Gemini. 😉 However, to be more authentic, I am adding a series on Everything Emily. I want y’all to see a real life and how etiquette is brought into it. I want to promote etiquette for everyone, and that means showing y’all the times I fail miserably at it. Do I dream of having a perfectly clean house, a guest book ready and waiting by the door and non-sticky kids? You betcha. Do I have any of that? Excuse me while I go laugh for about six hours. Nope. Not even close.

I expect my kids to be polite. I want them to grow up having etiquette as part of their everyday life, but I struggle with the middle ground. I know the implications of not following etiquette too well to just let things always slide. But I also understand the importance of living in the moment. Let me be as clear as I can be. Having kids jump in mud puddle is NOT against etiquette. Co-sleeping, bottle feeding, nursing, cry-it-out – whatever your parenting choice may be – is NOT against etiquette.

Etiquette is simply the bringing together of cultural and societal norms. It varies by region, which is why I state I teach Southern etiquette. It varies by country. I love this so much about etiquette. I don’t want so much sameness in the world that we lose our core values – the same values that make up our etiquette.

If you’re using etiquette to put others down, you’re doing it wrong. If you’re using etiquette to feel superior, you’re doing it wrong. NOTHING about etiquette would ever approve this. Etiquette is about feeling comfortable in any situation, but more than that, etiquette is about making OTHERS feel comfortable in any situation. You may absolutely guide someone if they are breeching etiquette, but if you’re doing it correctly, they’ll never know you did it.

Everything Emily will post weekly. I’m not sure of the day, yet, but I will let y’all know!

Announcement #2 sneak peek. Are y’all following my #southerngracesocialclub? If not, you should. 😉

 

The Two Epiphanies

Today I had an epiphany. Not like the one that will take place on January 6th. The lower-case kind. Ironically, it had to do with the 12 days of Christmas. A little backstory on me. Growing up, my dad was Catholic, and my mom was United Methodist. We’ll just say “Methodist” for short. We’d attend Mass at 9am, head to eat breakfast, then go to Wesley for the 11am service. Suffice it to say, I got a double dose. Most Sundays, the readings were similar, if not the same, at both churches. Until I was about ten or so, I thought boys were Catholics and girls were Methodists. I don’t know. I just did.

When I was 14, I made the decision to join the United Methodist Church. Prior to this conviction, though, I spent a lot of time researching the different denominations, including others I wasn’t raised with. During this time, I really explored the different seasons of the church. If you haven’t been able to tell, I absolutely love traditions, and the seasons of the church are quite traditional.

While I had always known that the Christmas season starts on December 25th and lasts for the next 12 days, I had NO idea (truly, no idea until this morning), that this wasn’t common knowledge. So, I decided to dedicate today’s blog to being the 10th day of Christmas and to promote the idea of traditions and celebration of Christmas.

My husband and I haven’t taken down our Christmas decorations. Now you know we’re not white trash. We just are choosing to celebrate all 12 days of Christmas. If you choose to not, that’s completely ok. I just posted the meme as a humorous aside. 🙂

So, a little 12 days of Christmas etiquette and traditions.

  • Traditionally, the tree and nativity scene remain until Epiphany. We elect to keep all of our decorations up since we keep our decorations in the attic. One trip is much better for me. 🙂
  • On the Twelfth Night, there are oftentimes parties to celebrate Christmas.
  • Each day of Christmas represents a day honoring or remembering different people/events. Several of the days honor a saint.
  • Here is another reference for your convenience! http://www.whychristmas.com/customs/12daysofchristmas.shtml 

Thank you for reading and Merry Christmas!

I truly did not know that people thought the 12 days of Christmas started BEFORE Christmas day instead of beginning on Christmas day, as is correct. I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t wished someone a Merry Christmas today. Please email me any etiquette question you’d like explained! 🙂 etiquettebyemily@gmail.com