You can purchase new moving supplies or find boxes used at your local grocery or liquor store. Whichever boxes you choose, you’ll need to keep the following tips in mind when it comes to packing them to ensure your stuff stays safe!

1. Estimate the number of boxes you’ll need

The total number of boxes you’ll need will depend on your home’s square footage, the number of family members, your lifestyle, how long you’ve lived there, and more. On average, for a household of 1,800 to 2,200 square feet, you’ll need 42 small, 41 medium, 26 large, and 15 extra-large boxes.

2. Gather your moving supplies and create a packing station

In addition to a variety of boxes, create a packing station supplied with packing paper, tape, a tape gun, scissors, utility knife, and permanent black markers. Save yourself thousands of steps and make your packing station portable, so you can efficiently pack room by room. Dedicate a medium-sized moving box filled with your supplies. Label it ‘packing supplies’ so it doesn’t get lost amid the other boxes.

3. Securely tape the bottom seam of the box

Use two overlapping layers of packing tape to seal the bottom seams of boxes containing books, china, glassware, and other heavy or fragile items. You don’t want the contents oozing out of the bottom of the box every time it’s lifted and moved.

4. Pad the bottom of the box with cushioning

Before you start layering in items, provide a generous layer of padding at the bottom of the box. Crumpled packing paper is a terrific material for cushioning. If the box gets dropped, that bottom layer will help protect the contents. Plus, if your load travels over rough ground like potholes, each box will have that protective layer of padding, so contents stay safe.

5. Pack items by room and group like items

Both packing and unpacking are so much easier if you pack your belongings by room. Refine this step further by packing the items in the room separately, by similar things. For example, you can group plates and bowls in one box, your small kitchen appliances in another box, and glassware in yet another.

6. Select the appropriate box

It’s tempting to grab a big box and fill it to the brim with plates, pots and pans, and small appliances. When filled, it’s impossible to lift, dangerous to move, and can lead to items getting broken. Follow the guideline of using big boxes for lightweight things like pillows and comforters, small boxes for heavier items, cell boxes for glassware, and heavy-duty boxes for china.

7. Wrap fragile items

If an item is fragile or breakable, like most ceramics and glassware, wrap each piece with several layers of tissue and packing paper before placing it in the moving box. Be careful not to pack too many heavy, fragile items together. Large ceramics, like tureens and platters, should be divided up between dishware boxes.

8. Place heavier items on the bottom

Always place heavier items on the bottom of the box. However, keep in mind that just because an item is large doesn’t necessarily mean it’s heavy. Large, very fragile items should go towards the top, with plenty of surrounding cushioning.

9. Be sure boxes aren’t too heavy

It’s easy to get on a roll and fill boxes without realizing how heavy they’ve become. Try to divvy up heavy items between boxes. Don’t risk straining your back by packing boxes that are too weighty. Also, note that heavy content can easily cause the bottom of a box to break open. Be sure to use extra tape on the bottom and write ‘heavy’ on the box.

10. Fill empty spaces with padding

Lifting, stacking, transporting – all these movements cause contents to shift. Avoid breakage and damage by crushing up extra paper and padding all the empty spaces in each box. Packing the air spaces also prevents boxes from collapsing when you stack other boxes on top.

11. Close the box and seal seams with tape

Once the box is full but not too heavy, and you’ve filled in void spaces with crushed packing paper, it’s time to close the box and seal the top seam with packing tape. Sealing the box will keep the contents clean and secure.

12. Immediately label

It’s so easy to forget what’s inside a box when you’re busy packing, so before you move on to the next box, immediately label the most recent one with its contents and room destination. Label each side of the box to avoid the hassle of having to move boxes around to see the label, which is especially maddening when a box is at the bottom of a stack.

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