You don’t want Great-Aunt Mildred’s heirloom china or the champagne flutes that you and your sweetie toasted with on your wedding day to end up in shards, do you? Bubble wrap alone won’t protect your breakables; you need to pack like a professional if you want your fragile lamps, glassware, and tchotchkes to make it from point A to B.
Stock for Success
Here’s a tip from Derek Williams of Adam’s Moving & Delivery Service in Seattle: Don’t overpack each box and hope that applying extra packing tape will keep it covered. Bulging boxes make it much harder for your movers to pack the moving van.
“It’s so much better to get more boxes than you think you’ll need than to try to overstuff them,” Williams says.
He adds that cardboard boxes have a shelf life — they can become flimsy over the years — so don’t count on old ones that have been in your basement forever to keep your stuff safe.
Mix It Up
You might think it’s best to buy boxes that are all uniform in size. But for your movers (or you, if you’re the one loading the van), fitting all your boxes in is a lot like Tetris. To conquer the puzzle, a variety of sizes works best.
Purchase boxes ranging from shoebox small to ottoman large, keeping in mind you likely can’t securely carry anything larger than 2-feet square. Then, pack heavier items in the shallower boxes, and fill the big ones with lighter stuff. You can also place heavy items at the bottom of deeper boxes and add lighter items on top — never the other way around.
For odd-shaped items, be generous with the boxes. Particularly fragile, irreplaceable heirlooms deserve a box to themselves. Williams recommends this technique: Place a blanket on the bottom, then the (carefully wrapped) item, and then place a pillow on top. Seal up the box and label it FRAGILE “on the top, sides, bottom — everywhere. Overcommunicate!” Williams stresses. And, of course, label each box with its contents.
For glasses, cups, and mugs, you don’t necessarily need box inserts (sometimes called cellular inserts) to keep the items separated. It’s more important to wrap each item up completely, with two layers of packing paper for extra-fragile things such as wine glasses. And make sure everything’s packed snugly, to prevent jiggling. For hollow items such as goblets and vases, stuff them with crumpled packing paper, then wrap individually with more paper before setting them inside a box lined with paper or bubble wrap. For flat items like plates and picture frames, wrap each item in packing paper and place them in a box vertically, alternating with a sheet of bubble wrap.
Also, do yourself a favor and use some containers designed for specific items, like partitioned holiday ornament boxes and gift-wrap organizers; these long-term storage options can slide right into your closet and bypass your “unpack” list.
Make Plastic Your Pal
Plastic wrap, that is. Stretch wrap comes in handy for all sorts of packing jobs: bundling shower and curtain rods, keeping rugs rolled tight, securing the tops on plastic storage tubs. You can try this move to spare yourself the work of packing up the contents of dresser drawers: Place a packing blanket around the dresser to protect it; then shrink-wrap the whole shebang.
If you opt for a plastic stretch wrap, use a moving vehicle or storage area with climate control if you won’t be immediately heading to your new home, as moisture can build up and potentially damage wood, leather and other materials.