You've moved the boxes from under the tree to the stair landing and finally to the floor of your closet.
But now for the decision: What to do with the gifts that simply don't fit into your life? You don't want to eat them, wear them, use them.
Some gifts, you'll have to admit, are more of a pain than a pleasure, like the socks that don't fit, the blouse in a color that makes your skin look like putty, the book that's too large for the shelf and too dull for the coffee table. The answer: Recycle your gifts.
If you need official approval for what seems like such an ungrateful attitude, how about a word from Charlotte Ford (Henry's daughter and author of the "Book of Modern Manners")? The receipt of a gift that doesn't fit your taste, she announces, should not be a burden: Simply unload it on someone else.
"Everybody's taste," she says, "is different."
Some gifts serve well tucked away in an inaccessible closet corner or bureau drawer, to be tapped for an emergency. Say you're just home from a trip with one gift short. Or your old roommate, in town for the inauguration, stops by and you suddenly remember it's her birthday. Viola . . . a shelf to select a remembrance from.
Other gifts can't wait to be put back in circulation. So here's a guide -- in case you need help and encouragement -- on recycling gifts:
Calendars: Recirculate at once. Nothing is quite so clumsy (or obvious) as a 1981 calendar given away after January. To brighten this gift, why not fill it in with dates important to both giver and receiver? If your children are at the same school, scrawl in important dates on the school calendar to a friend or relative out of town, why not pencil in the suggested date for a visit.
Food: Many items like canned health mix or nuts have a long shelf life. But a quick recirculating is necessary before the package begins to look weary. One firm rule for food gifts being passed along: No sampling. It then no longer qualifies as a gift, but as a shared treat.
Clothes: Your overstock of scarves or gloves may be just what someone else needs. Keep them boxed or in tissue paper, so they stay fresh. (Maybe, for you, later on in the year when you're short of cash, and these items suddenly become irresistible.)
Books: Make sure all gift cards are removed, and there is no inscription. Pack away carfully, so as not to damage covers.
And now forget any guilt about second-time-around gifts. They're probably of better quality and cost more than what you might go out and buy.
But one final and critical caution: Do not give back to the original sender the same gift given you.
That gift is guaranteed to go unappreciated. And you will be crossed off that donor's list. Permanently.