Packing Tips & Tricks: Part 1

July 9, 2012

THANK YOU so much for your tips for packing on my last post. I really really appreciate your help! I’ve already put some of your tips to good use. We’re still involved with packing and we will be for the next few weeks. This is the sixth time that I’ve moved in my life, and though I’m no expert, I’ve found a few things that have helped me.

I thought it would be good to start in parts. One bite at a time. First step to moving is getting organized! You must lay the foundation to make the transition smoother. I know, I know! It’s easier said that done.

Where to start?

-Figure out your move out date. Find out when you get the keys to your new place. You might get lucky and be able to move in over a longer period of time. But! That shouldn’t mean you should take your time on moving. If you don’t power through and go full steam ahead, you might not be ready when you REALLY have to be out. This has totally happened to me.

-Do a once over in your home and get rid of stuff. What are the essentials? What will definitely not fit in your new house? What would you not want to move?  Make lists of what you would like to keep/sell/donate furniture wise and create a game plan with that. Plan a day to take photos for your items to Ebay/Craigslist! If you can’t sleep at night because you’re thinking too much about this move (ahem, ME) make lists before bed and get things on paper.

-Figure out if you will be moving yourself, renting a truck or asking friends & family to help. If you are renting a truck or getting the help of friends/family, put it on your calendar and coordinate.

-Will you have movers help you? When we moved into our house, we finally splurged and paid a moving company to move us. It was the best money we ever invested!  As much as it’s nice to have friends help you, you won’t necessarily be able to ask your friend to replace something they damaged during the move. Remember: You MUST be ready for them when they come to pick up your stuff. You also have the option of hiring a few organizers to help you pack up your stuff. From what I’ve heard is that they pack everything that’s in one cabinet in one box. So if you had a random toy hanging out in your cabinet full of plates, you’d find it there.

When you’re at the stage when you’re ready to start packing:

-Gather your packing supplies. ALWAYS have enough packing tape & boxes. I can’t stress this ENOUGH! You don’t want to have a reason to have to stop. When you’re on a roll you have to keep going! Also…TAPE GUN?!! WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL OF MY LIFE??! For this move, we decided to buy boxes. We don’t have the time to hunt for ones behind grocery stores (there aren’t that many at ours! I looked!). They are pretty inexpensive and if you find ones at Lowe’s they have punch outs on the sides of their boxes so you can hold on to something while you lift up the box. Home Depot boxes are more of a label lovers box. They have a section where you mark which room the box goes to is from and you mark a box if it’s fragile or not. It’s a nice idea, but somehow I ignore all the writing… and the fact that it says Home Depot on it. You also might want to check Craigslist for boxes that people are getting rid of as well as the website Used Cardboard Boxes if you have a little more time before you have to get started.

-Start with one room at a time. I know this sounds impossible but…it will feel less daunting and more productive when you have a whole room done. I’m really struggling with this now because we didn’t do this. I have like 4 rooms in disarray and random stuff hanging out in the most peculiar places. It makes my High Straightenence brain GO NUTS. Part of the problem is that we need to have our essentials still in place so we can live in our house until we have to be out. My kitchen is about 1/4 packed because I’m hoping to do some recipes in my kitchen before we leave. Big sigh!

-Make a bunch of boxes before you start on a room. That way you can go BAM BAM BAM.

-Figure out how you want to label all of your boxes and STICK TO IT. I write the name of the room I packed on top of the box as well as a brief description of what’s in it. I then write the name in the upper right hand corner on all 4 sides and write two words that would help me jog my memory of what’s in it. If a box is full of ESSENTIALS, then I put the word ESSENTIAL on the box. I know people who make spreadsheets of their boxes and they find it super helpful. I think that putting different colored tape on the outside of boxes would help you prioritize too! I saw different color duct tape (including zebra & leopard!) at Home Depot.

-Divide and conquer! After 5 moves with my husband, we realized that I’m better at packing small individual things and organizing boxes while he excels at doing all the labor of moving boxes, making the boxes and figuring out what to get rid of. Every night we check in and figure out what needs to be done for the next day and create a new game plan based on that.

-Some people (ahem, my husband!) will tell you that cleaning and straightening up your house while you’re moving is useless. If it makes you feel better, than you should do it! It’s really hard to go through the process of moving and if you don’t feel like your home feels like home it can be super stressful. Do what you need to! To reduce the clutter, I like to have all of the boxes out of the way after I pack them. Right now our dining room is housing them. It drove me bonkers when there were boxes throughout my kitchen.

-If friends & family offer to help you, TAKE their help. I shouldn’t have to tell you why! You can even throw a party around it. Make things easy and order pizza, supply the drinks and let people go to town. Just remember…your friends & family most likely aren’t professional packers… They need direction and you should be organized with what you need them to do when they show up to your house.

Now I’m off to continue packing! More soon next week. Wish me luck!




16 comments on “Packing Tips & Tricks: Part 1

  1. Good Luck – but it looks like you are very organized and will be just fine! Can’t wait to hear/see your new place! Have you begun to pick out room colors and etc????

    • Tracy May 9, 2012

      Oh boy! I wish I was MORE organized. I haven’t even thought about room colors. I’m assuming that we’ll live with the white walls for awhile and then decide. XOX!

  2. Kaitlin May 9, 2012

    These are great tips. The timing of these posts are perfect, as I am moving in a few weeks, too. I wish I were even half as organized as you! Best of luck with the move.

  3. Katya May 9, 2012

    Good luck with the move. All your tips make a good game plan. I also love that you and your husband both have specific things you are good at. It makes it easier to divide and conquer!

  4. Do we get to know about the reason for the move? On the up and up I hope! I can’t wait to see shots of your new place, perfectly organized, of course. :)

  5. Thank you for sharing these tips! I know a move will be happening in the next year so I will definitely be back to review these when the time comes!
    Hope the move goes well, looking forward to hearing more about your new home.

  6. Best of luck with the move! Hope it goes well!

  7. I could not agree more with organizing and consolidating the packed boxes. I have moved 22+ times in my life – and twice across the Atlantic. Having one room with all of the packed boxes does 2 things. 1) gets then out of your way and 2) reminds you that you kicking A in packing game! Watching progress grow is invaluable.

  8. Your post came at the perfect time! My boyfriend and I are moving too. We’re in the packed stage awaiting the movers for Friday :) Good luck to you!

  9. Sounds like you’ve really got it covered – I had no doubt! The only thing I would add – if you don’t mind spending a few more bucks – is to buy printable labels – the kind that are about 6 to a sheet. On the computer I designed them using a unique color for each room: I flooded the label with the color, leaving a white box on the bottom half and putting the corresponding room name in big bold black letters on the top half. I printed sheets of these – then all I had to do was write the short description (cups, plates) in the white area and plunk one label on every side of every box. My movers, a couple of who struggled with English, were just as happy I was! And don’t forget a separate color label for the boxes (super-fragile, heirlooms, financials, electronics etc) that you’re going to take with you (“DO NOT MOVE”)! BEST OF LUCK – we are all craving your why, where and how story!

  10. ps…I just found my label template (actually 4 to a page – Avery Style #6878 and 6876 – 4-3/4″ x 7-3/4″) and corresponding signs to hang on the door of each room in the new house. I am going to post them as printable PDFs if anyone is interested in downloading: 6876.pdf

  11. Tracy, it sounds like you’re going to ace this move, since so many of your ducks are already in a row. All these suggestions from readers have been awesome and appreciated, as I’m probably looking at a 1700 mile move by summer’s end. With all the sage advice that’s already been given about labeling boxes, having a Master Box List that reminds you what’s in what box, having an excess of the Holy Moving Trinity (packing tape, fatty Sharpies, moving boxes), etc, for the benefit of future reader/movers, I would just like to add that you should always give yourself MORE TIME than you think you’re going to need. When you’re moving, so many other things need your attention beyond the actual packing of boxes. I let my bf take the lead last time and his procrastination, ugh, it was killing me, Smalls! This next time, I’m getting my shizz together months in advance. I will also be hiring movers as they are incredibly fast and efficient and really take the stress levels way down, especially when more than a small U-Haul’s worth of housage needs to be moved long distance.
    Pack like the wind,

  12. I’ve moved across the country 4 times in the last 7 years… and before that, in undergrad, had the bad habit of moving to a new crappy apartment every year. So I’m kind of an expert at the moving thing and have to say you’ve mentioned almost all aspects of our well-oiled moving machine. The spreadsheet is the best part, so that when my fiance stands in the middle of all the boxes going, “Where’s my blue sweater?” I can just search the spreadsheet and say, “Box 12″ (or, “check the spreadsheet, dude”).

    The only thing I have to add relates to having people help. If someone wants to help pack, give them a defined set of things to pack, and whatever packing material they need. Do not make them make any decisions, and give them enough instruction that you won’t have to critique their packing methods. For example: give them a big pile of towels/blankets/t-shirts and ask them to take all of the pictures off the walls, wrap them and put them upright in boxes. Or put all of your mugs on the table along with some bubble wrap (or whatever) and ask them to pack those into a box. Books are another good thing for friends/family to help pack, as long as you’ve purged already or can accept that all of them are getting packed.

    If you’re not organized about it… things can happen like, say, your mother in law randomly packing wine glasses with pots and pans, or opening your lingerie drawer to look for packing material. aaah! not that anything like that has happened to me.

    also, I really wish this blog had existed back when you were planning your wedding… I feel like you would have very sensible and organized advice about that.

  13. Denise Ruggeri May 12, 2012

    pack a small overnight bag for each of you with everything you need for the first few days….cosmetics, medications, clothes,

  14. Emily May 14, 2012

    Oof… we just packed up last month to move from Canada back to the US, and we had 8 days to do it (job offer with a quick start date!). Needless to say, it was NUTS and we had a lot of help from friends – we paid them in food we couldn’t bring with us (basically, everything) and random things like lamps that didn’t fit in the cars – because we moved all of our belongings in two cars, and one is a bug! We’re now dealing with the repercussions of crazy packing (hello box full of dog toys, baking dishes and socks?? I don’t think I packed that box..) while we are UNpacking in our new place. Good luck to you with your packing/unpacking Tracy!

  15. Regina May 17, 2012

    Thanks so much for all the great tips. I am planning on moving at the end of the month, to Philadelphia no less, hopefully-its an odd last minute situation thats driving me bonkers. anyway I was wondering if you could help me with a quick little dilemma. In January I moved to where I am currently living now, small town america. 90% of my possessions never left their boxes, and I don’t think I packed/ organized them very well to start with. So my question is for this new move do I simply take all my boxes and deal with it when I get there or do I unpack, organize and repack everything?
    Thanks so much, love the column, love the blog and love the podcasts :)

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