The moving date is getting closer and it is time to get serious about packing, now that you have “de-cluttered” and gotten rid of all the junk. The packing services of a professional mover can double the cost of a local move, so if you are inclined and physically able to pack up the contents of your house, you will save a great deal of money. Basically, you will need to put everything in your house (except furniture) into a box with a lid, label it and tape it closed. And while acquiring boxes or appropriate containers like plastic tubs can become almost an obsession prior to your move, the art of packing has more to do with what happens inside the box itself than what kind of box you use.
Packing is all about paper and air. In the right combination, they will hold everything in perfect and safe suspension. You don’t need segmented boxes for glasses, etc. (a big waste of space), nor do you need much bubble wrap. You do need paper, paper and more paper. Recycling the daily newspaper as packing material is an option. While it leaves a dirty residue on everything, it is a step up from the sphagnum moss, leaves, straw and sawdust packing materials of days gone by. Today the best packing paper, by far, comes in 25 lb. reams. This virgin newsprint is clean and the individual sheets are large enough to wrap around a big platter or large lamp. Be ready to spend money on a substantial supply of paper, easily 6 reams for an average house, or about $150 to $200. A dinner plate will need two sheets of paper as will a nice piece of crystal stemware. The goal in wrapping anything is to obliterate, or at least pad out, all the hard edges. That is how things get broken – when two hard edges come into contact with each other inside the box. Paper is the cheapest insurance you can buy, so don’t scrimp.
Let’s pack an imaginary box of breakables. Maybe you are sending china to a granddaughter or maybe you are packing Hummels to be put on a moving truck. A basic principle applies to packing any box full of fragile items. First, never let the breakable items come into contact with the bottom or the top of the box. You need to create that paper and air barrier that will insulate items from damage. Simply ball up wads of paper the size of cannonballs and pack into the bottom of the box before anything else goes in. You want enough paper on the bottom of the box to pass the “fist” test. Ball up your fist and hit the bottom of your box, trying to feel the bottom of the cardboard through the paper. Hit the bottom in several places. If you can feel the bottom of the box, you will have to add more cannonballs of paper. The balled up paper provides the ultimate protection should the box get dropped or the moving truck encounter rough road conditions.
Don’t over pack your box. Don’t ever jam anything in. A little air between wrapped objects allows items to move slightly if the box is squeezed or “flexed” from the side, if for instance a moving truck should have to slam on its brakes. When placing items in a box, let your fingers feel around for hard edges and pad between them with an extra piece of paper. And finally, most important, don’t pack to the very top of the box. Boxes get stacked during a move and there is a crush factor top to bottom as well as side to side. The top 3-4 inches should be firmly filled with the same cannonballs of paper. You will know you have put enough paper on the top of your box if, when you close the lid and press down in the middle of the box, the top depresses no more than 1⁄4 inch. Don’t tape the box shut until you have put enough paper on top. Use three long pieces of tape on both the top and bottom of the box to hold securely, and label each box, of course.
Whether you are moving locally or long distance, items “Packed By Owner” are not insured. If a move is local, many fragile items including lamps and art, can be “schlepped” via car to the new home without much packing attention. Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help. Packing can be physically challenging. It requires agility and strength. It requires real effort to not only get things wrapped and packed into a box, but then you have to move the boxes around and even stack them up. A small box of books weighs 40 lbs. If you have at least a month or more, you can get the job done in measured doses. Almost half of what gets packed in the average home requires very little skill. Let friends or family pack books, records and CDs, pots and pans, closet contents, pantry food, garage, lawn and garden items, and some basement and attic items. Use professional movers for the china and crystal, computers and electronics, lamps, art, mirrors and fancy clocks.