Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How to pack

We passed through the storm without incident. We still have power, and no damage. However, I'm heartsick at what's happened to NYC. I still consider myself a New Yorker, and New York was the first (and really, only) city I ever loved. I hope all my friends there are okay.

Also, Happy Halloween!

I spent the last couple of days packing and watching CNN. So, today's moving post will be about packing.

The women in my family are known for their ability to, as my dad puts it, "pack nine pounds of crap in a five-pound bag." Remember, every box you move is a box that you're paying for, and lifting, and unpacking. So it behooves you to have as few boxes as possible. That's one of the reasons why it pays to be ruthless when culling. (Less stuff = less stuff to pack = less stuff to move.)

Start with the stuff you don't use on a daily basis, and slowly work in toward the stuff you use constantly. Don't bother with trying to keep the kitchen stuff separate from the bathroom stuff; when you're packing a box, everything is fair game.

When you pack a box, pack it tight. I mean TIGHT. If you pack a box full of books, and there's a little space left over in the corner, maybe the size of a coffee cup, put something in that space. You want to use every available cubic centimeter in every box. To maximize space, of course, but also to keep items from rattling around loose.

If you're wrapping fragile items, wrap them in your own linens--towels, sheets, washcloths, potholders. I've used sweaters and scarves and socks as packing material before, as well. Quilts, blankets, and curtains can be used to wrap pictures and furniture. Old newspapers make great packing material, too. Ditto plastic bags, Ziploc bags, and trash bags (all of which can be saved and reused after the move). I'm hoping to get all the way through this move without having to buy bubble wrap.

Spices and small kitchen items can be burrowed inside glassware. Silverware can be wrapped in newspaper, a few pieces at a time, and wedged into corners. Small office supplies--pens, boxes of paper clips, Post-it note pads--can also be wedged into small spaces. Packing a jar or a coffee cup? Put something inside it first.

Remember to remove batteries from things, and to remove the light bulbs from lamps. If you're dismantling something (say, a bookshelf), put the screws in a Ziploc bag and tape it to the item in question.

The last box packed should be the first one unpacked, and it should contain all the basics you'll need before the serious unpacking begins. To wit:

Shower curtain, and rings
Toilet paper, and maybe a roll of paper towels
Sheets and a pillow
Box cutter
Tools (if you don't have a separate toolbox)
Toiletries (toothbrush, etc.)
Flashlight, just in case

Mark the exterior of the boxes well. You can use a shorthand (B for books, K for kitchen stuff), but make sure each side of the box is marked. If a box contains fragile items, or needs to stay right-side up, mark those as well. I keep a roll of packing tape and a Sharpie in each room.

Examples I'm particularly proud of:

I removed all my shoes from their respective shoe boxes, and filled one box with all my shoes--nestled together end to end, and packed in tight. I put socks in between the shoes, and filled the spaces in the box with bracelets, unspooled Christmas ribbon, and belts.

I rolled all the wrapping paper into one large roll, wrapped a couple of posters around that, and dropped the whole thing into a poster tube.

A box of wine glasses had a little room at the top, so I took my espresso cups out of their boxes, wrapped each one in newspaper, and dropped one in each glass slot. I spread some maps over the top to fill the box all the way.

I'm also starting a separate pile of things that will stay with us, in the cross-country car journey, rather than be packed. Tomorrow's post: maybe some actual cooking.

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