Packing for Your Move - The Basics

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Packing and purging go hand in hand--while you're purging, you need to be packing, too. If you're managing your move yourself, you're responsible for getting all the packing supplies you need. Your local big-box store, self-storage company, or the mover you've hired are all good resources for your supplies. If you buy from your mover, ask if they will take back any unopened or unused boxes, tape, bubble wrap, or paper.

Here's a checklist to get you started.

Small boxes for books, heavy items, toys, appliances, fragile items

Medium boxes for the kitchen, accessories, lampshades, linens, shoes and boots

Large boxes for lamps, window treatments, pillow--items that are bulky but lightweight

Packing tape and tape guns

Newsprint, bubble wrap, packing peanuts or your shredded paper

Markers and labels

Small tools--screwdrivers, hammer, box cutter, scissors

Camera or smartphone

For a more extensive list of tools to make your move easier, click here.

Getting Started

Last used, last packed is the rule for the packing process--generally speaking, the coffeepot and microwave are the last things to go in boxes. Since you're packing while you purge, start with the low-hanging fruit in chests and cabinets; you can knock out a couple of those in an hour. When you've purged enough for a donate or dump run, don't leave home until your boxes are taped and labelled. You can use specific color-coded labels (blue for the kitchen, green for the master, etc.) or use masking tape with a heavy black marker; just be sure you label all sides of the box and note if it's fragile. A couple of seconds spent listing the contents are worth their weight in gold later when you can't find your shoes in all the boxes marked "master closet".

Organization

Purging helps you get organized, and so does cleaning out the closets, attic, and garage early in the process. You'll need a storage spot for all your packed boxes, and the garage is the best spot as it's going to be close to the moving truck. Of course, the garage has to be organized for this to work, so tackle this project early on--set aside at least a weekend for the garage purge. Once you've got the space, sort your boxes so that the movers can get to them easily on moving day; they will load the truck so that the weight is properly distributed and so that the first things that need to come off are the last put on.

If you're the kind of person who saves boxes, you may now pat yourself on the back. Electronics are fragile and if you have the original packaging you can re-use that. If not, put everything connected to the device in a box--power cords, modems, power strips, instructional CDS--and label it all. Take photos of the cords before you pack them in case something gets misplaced.

Fragile!

It's astonishing how many things you use every day are pretty fragile. Dishware, glasses, light bulbs, lamps--all need a little TLC when you're packing them. Wrap dishes and glasses in newsprint, and place the plates in the box on end like records. A layer of bubble wrap protects them further, and stuff the empty spaces with some sort of shredded paper or packing peanuts. Don't overload the fragile boxes, and don't use big boxes for fragile things. Boxes from the liquor store work well for fragile things; they come in odd sizes and may not have tops, so with a box cutter and tape you can customize boxes.

Don't just toss your lamps into boxes, take the shade and harp off and remove the bulb. The bases can go in a large box with the harp taped to the base, the shades can nest in another box, and the bulbs need to be packed separately (an ornament box is great for this) and marked fragile.

In our next post, we will delve into packing dos and don'ts.