Plate Placement: Is stacking your plates helpful to the waiter?

Q: When eating in a booth, is it okay to set an empty dish on another closer to where the waitress may pick it up?

A: Generally speaking, plates should not be stacked in anticipation of one clearing the table even if your intentions are good. It is safer and more helpful to the waitstaff to either wait for the plate(s) to be cleared or hand them individually to the waiter.


  1. Madeleine

    I have the 1922 version of Etiquette by Emily Post. I am Having a Party at which I want to read some things about Etiquette, I was wondering under what section I would find the language of hand-held fans. I mean like what to do with the fan to show you are married, what to do to show you are available, what to do to express emotions in general; that kind of thing. Does Etiquette have such a list?
    I love her book but it is so big and I have no idea where to look, there is no fan section or a language section so I am confused. Could you please help me soon? Before the 15th of Jan 2014 if possible, but at least by the 29th Jan 2014. I would appreciate it very much.

    Yours Truly
    In need of the Language of fans.

    • Elizabeth

      The 1922 edition does not contain any information about a “language of fans.” A quick google search reveals that this was a Victorian norm, so Emily Post would have been too late. I recommend you google “language of fans” and you will easily find what you are looking for.

  2. Ruth Peltier

    Sometimes stacking is necessary. For example, at a buffet where you have to get a new plate when you go back for “seconds” or desert. The tables are not big enough for all the plates otherwise. Just sayin……

    • Jody

      I agree with Ruth. Sometimes the waiters are busy attending to other tables and they just haven’t had a chance to clear my used plates. In that case I think it’s perfectly acceptable to stack your plates — it makes it clear to the waiter that you’re finished with those plates and you have room to have a second plate of food.

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