A nicety is the subtle distinction of detail of etiquettes. In today’s terms, it is the difference between just ok and WOW! Most people are well aware of the how’s and why’s of politeness. Adding nicety takes any detail to the next level. It can and should be applied to every detail of what you do, what you wear and how you act. Become aware of niceties.
When getting dressed, add a special contrasting belt. Would a single strand of pearls be enhanced with the addition of a link necklace? When brushing your hair into a ponytail, could you add a scarf or a tie or a barrette? Do men’s navy blazers become more distinctive with a colorful pocket square? When selecting a pair of shoes and a handbag of a different color, could the colors be more interesting with a patterned scarf tied to the handle? Could Grandmother’s diamond broach pinned to a strand of pearls add the just needed look of individuality? Try adding a black satin bow to black shoes to wear to a cocktail party. These are merely suggestions to add a nicety to the otherwise ordinary.
One of the subtleties of politeness is the nicety of giving a hostess gift to the person who is entertaining you. Arriving at someone’s home with a small wrapped gift shows gratitude. Never take a large ostentatious gift which would cause other guests to be embarrassed. Small gift ideas could be a cheese knife, appetizer spreaders, cocktail napkins, a box of notecards, guest towels or a candle. Flowers are always welcome, especially if they are already potted or arranged in a vase. Cut flowers wrapped in paper are often difficult if the hostess must excuse herself from greeting guests to slip away to fix the flowers. A delivery of flowers the day before or the morning of the party is thoughtful as they can already be placed in a perfect location before any quests arrive. A special bottle of wine or spirits is another hostess gift often brought to a party. This is a better choice if one is aware of the preferences of the host and hostess. Any of these hostess gifts to say thank you will be able to “go the second mile” when the presentation is special. For example, tie a ribbon or even two ribbons around most anything, then add a posy or a sprig of herbs in the bow or knot.
Another opportunity for niceties is to do something for someone who is ill, recovering from surgery, has a new addition to the family, a death or just to add a cheerful thought. Flowers of all colors and varieties come to mind. With summer at its peak, flowers from your own garden brought with a plate of cookies is always welcomed. If your time is tight, your favorite florist can help by delivering a selection in a timely fashion. Arriving at someone’s home with a prepared meal, a small flower and a book is such a helpful gesture. Make the drop-off simple by gathering all the gifts into a basket or colorful heavy duty gift bag. Containers that do not need to be returned are appreciated. Add any nicety to give a personal touch; such as a few flowers from your garden, brightly colored paper napkins, a small box of mints, a small notebook or box of cards with a pen.
Giving any special touch to someone is a nicety in the truest sense. This gift may even be given by an anonymous person. Such gifts stem from the 1400s. There were, and still are, silver cone shaped containers meant to be filled with fresh flowers and hung on someone’s front door. These silver containers have been called a Tussy Mussy. Today these are often used for bridal bouquets. The idea remains the same: to do something extra special for someone else—A Nicety!