Having done my share of packing over nearly my entire life (yes I even packed a little when I was a child) I have learned through much trial (and a WHOLE LOT of error) as to what really works well for me. So, any of the tips I am sharing are what I like to do--you may have more tips and ideas that are WAY more organized than mine and you may have some other tools that I haven't thought of at all. This isn't rocket science or the invention of of the wheel, but, if I can add something to the table that helped me, then I will do so. Maybe someone out there will pick it up and run with it!
Now, I am starting at the end of the hours of sorting, getting rid of stuff and all that jazz, with the actual packing portion. So if you miss all that, I'm sorry. I am sure if you search the blog list on this website as well as the many others on the web, I am sure you can get some organizing ideas.
PROPER GEAR It's not just boxes and tape. You will need: Different size boxes - You can collect boxes from grocery stores, liquor stores and other stores in your area or you may know someone who works somewhere who can get you some boxes. You can buy boxes, but, this can get super costly when moving is already costly enough. If you know you are going to be moving ahead of time, save shipping boxes you may get as well. In some cases plastic containers with lids are good to pack things in, like, holiday decorations or items you want sealed if they will be stored in a garage or a basement. Strong Packing Tape - I have used duct tape in a pinch, but if you are moving when it is humid, this tape doesn't stick well. Also, if you will be storing some boxes, duct tape doesn't last as well over time. I also suggest a tape contraption to roll it out, because this helps you keep from sticking the tape on the roll and spending 10 minutes every time to pick it back off! I am not always good with the heavy tape applier, but, my husband is an expert so he's the taper! Wrapping Materials - Newspapers, store plastic bags, old wrapping paper you are tired of, sheets, towels and washcloths. All of these work really well when you are packing your breakable things. Something to Mark the Boxes - This can be a huge marker or maybe some colored tape so that you know what room a particular box goes to or what might be in it and how fragile something is.
Now that you have all your gear together, I will explain as to why you need some things and how I generally pack a box.
Size Matters - When packing boxes the actual size of the box matters--depending on what you are putting in it. For instance, if you are packing a bunch of books, smaller, easy to maneuver boxes are good for heavy things. Some boxes from liquor stores are small and great for this--plus a lot of times they have handles in the boxes as well. Larger boxes are good for less heavy things, because remember, as you fill a box up, the heavier it will get. So also always lift the box once in a while, while you are packing it so that you can see how heavy it is getting. However, don't go crazy with too many different sizes because whether you have movers or you are moving everything youself, a lot of like size boxes are easier to pack in a truck or trailer. Then, the odd shaped furniture items can be situated in and around the boxes.
Like Minds - When you are packing a box, keep "like" things together. This can be similar items, but, for me, I will pack things according to what room they are in and then how they go together. Don't pack something heavy and awkward in a box with your favorite china. You have to think that even if you wrap up everything perfectly, a huge, heavy item can still move in the box and smash something else. I personally also truly dislike something being thrown in a box at the top just to "fill it up more". This is an area my husband shines at, too, and it drives me bonkers! Just because there is a little room at the top, it doesn't mean to hunt all over until you find an item that can be shoved in there that has nothing to do with the rest of the box! The more you keep like items from the same rooms together, the easier it will be when you unpack those items later.
Mark it Right - Now, this has changed for me over the years. I used to just write on a box what some of the items were in it (a lot of times I missed something important in that box and would "lose" things and never think to look in a certain box when I unpacked!) and I have also used colored tape that stands out so you can see it! I have used duct tape on the sides (so I could write on the tape) but sometimes that smears too. This time I found some colored tape that has some room names on it and then a roll that says fragile! But, however YOU want to do it, mark the box by the room it goes in, some items that are the main thing and then if it is fragile or not. Also, if you need a certain box right away, mark it that way too. Don't for one minute think you will remember what all is in a box by the time you get to your destination. ESPECIALLY if you start packing way ahead of time, or put a box in storage for a while! Some people even make detailed lists of what all is in each box and keep that separate, but, that is way too much for me so I have never done that. It sounds like a great idea, but I don't enjoy packing as it is and anything that drags it out longer isn't for me!
Wrapping is Important - When you have breakables, wrapping them up carefully and then putting an extra cushion a of paper or something to absorb the space in between the items is imperitve to keep the items tight and protected. If there is space in the middle of a breakable (like a drinking glass) make sure paper or something is in that space as well as around the item. I have used towels, wash cloths, sheets and other fabric items for this not only when I have run out of paper or plastic bags, but purposefully for extra softness. When you are packing up the kitchen, using the kitchen towels around breakables in the kitchen is a good way to pack a box. Sheets and blankets are good for large items (lamp bases, large wall hangings, mirrors). Use your imagination. Once, I helped my niece move. She was single and was packing up at the last minute and didn't have tons of newspapers or kitchen towels to wrap up her kitchen breakables, but she had a bunch of bras! So we used her (VERY CLEAN) lingerie to pack up some of her kitchen items! I always wondered if she was alone when she unpacked her kitchen later after she moved! That would have a been a fun conversation if she wasn't!
Last Minute Stuff - No matter what, when you are packing the last minute things, it's usually a mish-mash of all sorts of different items. Sometimes these items will be used right away (and that is why they were last to be packed) some of these items are either things you run across at the end of your packing or odd items that don't really go in a box easily. Sometimes hauling some of these things in a laundry basket in your car is in order, other times you just have an odd box and you have to mark it as best as you can. Every so often it is a little like Christmas when you run across a box and you aren't sure what all is in it and you finally find something that was missing! Just try not to stress about those last boxes. If you have kept things together and properly marked MOST of your belongings, then you are doing great and having a few weird things at the end won't be terrible. For the most part, your unpacking experience will be enjoyable and a bit less stress than your packing one!
I have to stop writing now...I have a few boxes to pack myself!