Packing for a big move does not have to take months. This may come as a shock, but in many homes, it can be done in a weekend or less. I’m speaking from experience on this one. The last time my family of four moved, we did it in a weekend. I’ve also helped many clients tackle the same challenge.
Here are my top 12 tips on how to make the packing process quick and a little less painful.
1. Do not panic! Your nerves can get the best of you if you let them, so take a deep breath and make a list. This list should include what needs to be packed, what supplies should be purchased (such as moving boxes and tape) and in what room order you are going to pack.
This giant list will be your guide as you make quick work of packing the house. Having everything on the list can help you keep your brain focused on the job at hand, and it will feel good to check each task off.
2. Purge your belongings. On your giant to-do list, the first order of business is to purge. Get rid of all the things you can before you begin to pack.
Take a garbage bag and walk through the entire house. It is truly freeing to get rid of things you don’t need. Throw away expired medicine, broken toys, puzzles with missing pieces and other things you’ll never use again. Make sure everything that remains is a full set or in great condition.
3. Pack kitchen breakables. Your glasses and dishes in the kitchen require some additional attention, so start the packing process with these items. When you are packing away these breakables, save time and money by using soft materials you already own as packing supplies.
Grab your beach towels and large bathroom towels first. Put them at the bottom of your boxes to absorb any shock or shifting that may take place during the move.
Next, grab other towels, linens, dishrags and even T-shirts. You can wrap the fragile items in these pieces, which means packing that section of the house will take less time later.
Tip: Now that you have moving boxes getting full, take a minute to label each box with a number using a permanent marker. Then, start a list of the numbered boxes and their contents. This is essential and will save you precious time later in your new home when you need to quickly find something.
4. Leave dresser drawers full. Save yourself some time and leave your clothes in the drawers. You or your professional haulers can remove the drawers from the dresser and move the drawers with their contents that way. An individual drawer stuffed with clothes stays organized and is easier to move than a filled dresser.
5. Clear out the closet. Clothes from your closet can easily be moved into wardrobe boxes, which come with rods for hanging things up. You just put the clothes in, seal up the box and then unpack and hang the clothes in your new closet after the move.
If you have shelves with sweaters, sweatpants and shoes, pack them into medium-sized boxes. Make sure you label the boxes and add them to your ongoing list.
Tip: Use an extra shoe box or a clear container for the odds and ends — such as buttons, safety pins and old letters — you’ll come across while you pack the closet. You’ll be amazed at what you find.
6. Take care of valuables. Pack jewelry and other valuables carefully. These items are fragile and sentimental. The last thing you want to do is tangle necklaces or lose earrings. I love using pill stackers or snack bags to sort jewelry and keep everything safe.
Tip: Do not put these items in the moving truck. Instead, keep them with you in your vehicle as you go to your new home.
7. Stack the toys. Toys tend to be made from tough materials that don’t break easily. You can pack them into bins or boxes and then stack them into one larger wardrobe box. I’ve found that having the toys packed always brings a huge sense of relief for parents.
This method also will keep all the toys together, and the kids will be happy to pull them all out again in their new home.
8. Box up bedrooms. Now you can concentrate on accessories and personal items. Similar items should go in the same box: shoes in one box, books in another and so on until everything has a box.
Tip: If any of these items are fragile, grab clothes out of the dresser and use them as packing material.
9. Remove everything from the walls. The best way to pack wall art is with towels and flat pieces of cardboard. Wrap each photograph or piece of art in towels and tape the towel around the piece so that the towel stays in place. Then you can place wrapped items in a box and put a piece of flat cardboard between them for added protection. Cut-up wardrobe boxes are a great source for large, flat pieces of cardboard.
If your large wall art doesn’t fit in a box, you can carefully stack the pieces in the moving truck or your vehicle and use flat pieces of cardboard as dividers.
Tip: Small art and wall decor can be packed similarly to your fragile kitchen items.
10. Keep boxing until you’re done. If you are at this step, you’ve already accomplished a lot. Now you just need to finish. Keep motivated with good music, good food and good friends, if they are willing to help.
The trickier parts of the home have been addressed, so now you just need to keep going into each room and putting the contents in boxes. Keep in mind any previous tricks, such as wrapping breakables in clothing.
11. Do a final check. When you’re done packing, congratulate yourself and call in friends. Order pizza for everyone, and then ask your friends to walk around and see whether you’ve missed anything. Sometimes another set of eyes can be invaluable.
If you find anything, put it in a box. It’s totally OK to have miscellaneous boxes as long as their contents are labeled on your box list. You may find that the items that are last to be packed are the things that didn’t fit into other categories. Ask yourself whether you really want these items before packing them away.
Make sure each box is taped shut, has a number and is listed on your master move list.
If all the loose items are packed and the boxes are closed, you’re officially done.
12. Hire help, if needed. While you can pack in a weekend, it might not work for you every time.
If you are truly in a time pinch and feel that the cost would be worth it, consider hiring the movers to pack you.