The Best Way to Pack Up Your Home

Dachsund in box

I’ve moved 9 times between 6 states in the last 20 years. I'm a seasoned professional when it comes to moving! But it still stresses me out. Here are some things I’ve learned to make the packing part of the moving process easier.

Start Early

dresser with items

When I stage a client’s home to list on the market, I tell them “the packing starts now!” One of the main purposes of staging is to make an emotional connection with potential buyers to the home. Try not to think of it as your home. It’s best to wait for a professional to do any staging, but you can start by packing away personal and valuable items.

Focus One Room At A Time

Mom and kids on bed playing and packing

This reminds me of the riddle: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! Start with the rooms you don’t use as much: guest room, formal dining room, powder room, basement. Afterwards, move on to other rooms, leaving the bedrooms and kitchen for last.

If they’re old enough, kids can start packing their toys. It is also a good time for them to donate toys they no longer play with.

Label each box with the room name. Only list individual items you know you’ll want to find easily – i.e. DVDs, personal items, etc.

Only Handle It Once! (O.H.I.O)

clothes in donation box

Now is the perfect time to sort through your things to see what to keep, toss and donate. Don’t waste time packing items to store/donate/toss at your new place. Start off in your new environment with a clean slate!

Ask yourself these questions while packing:

  1. Do I love this item?  Let’s face it, there are some things we loved when we purchased or received them. But if the novelty has worn off, donate it so someone else can love it!
  1. Does it have sentimental value?  There are some things you can’t get rid of! Like your grandma’s China. Or a homemade present from your 6-year-old. Sentimental items are invaluable. And usually, irreplaceable!
  1. Have I used it in the last 6 months?  If you haven’t used it within the last year, but you think you might use it at some point, consider donating it. Don’t become a storage unit for items you might need in the future. If you do end up needing it, buy it at that time.
  1. Do I have something similar that will do the same thing?  This especially applies to kitchens. There are so many utensils, appliances and gadgets! But we don’t need a crockpot AND an Instant Pot AND a rice cooker. Think of all the space you’ll save paring it down to one or two of those appliances.

Pack Priority Items Last

folding clothes

The last things packed, will be the first things unpacked. Think about the things you’ll need for the next 2-3 weeks. Label these boxes with the room name and “Open Me First!” in big letters.

For clothes and hygiene items, pack like you’re going on vacation for a couple weeks. You don’t need your entire wardrobe, 30 pairs of shoes and toiletries! Use a suitcase to help decide what goes and what gets packed. If it doesn’t fit in the suitcase, you can survive without it for a week or two.

Plan Ahead

prepared meals

Plan for 2-3 weeks of freezer meals. This way you’re not eating out every meal during the moving process. This also helps to clean out your refrigerator and freezer.

Here are some great freezer meal recipes I found on Pinterest

This is also a great time to get rid of any bad or expired items. As you’re disposing of these items, be sure to add them to your grocery list.

When packing the Kitchen, keep only one plate and utensil for each family member. Or buy disposable. If you make freezer meals, you shouldn’t need any pots and pans – just your microwave or oven!

Ask for Help

couple with moving boxes on laptop

You may need help with childcare so you can pack without them being underfoot. Or you could use the extra hands and transportation on Moving Day. People love to help, but you need to ask them! Pay them with food and drinks. But also keep in mind you get what you pay for, and things may get damaged. If this stresses you out, it would be worth it to pay for professional movers!

Time-Saving Tips:

  • Leave clothes in dresser drawers and wrap them in heavy-duty plastic wrap.
  • Pack books and other heavy items in small boxes. Your back and friends will thank you later!
  • U-Haul has boxes for specific items. For example, drinking glasses have protective sleeves and boxes with individual slots.
  • Keep important documents and receipts handy in a folder.
  • Pack potted plants in empty boxes.  This will help keep them contained so they don’t tip over.
  • Consider boarding your pets for a few days.  The moving process can be very stressful to them, and this could help the transition.

kid in robot box

Even though the moving process can be stressful, it doesn’t have to be. Take a deep breath, and follow the steps above. You got this!

Please comment with any moving Tips and Tricks you’ve picked up along the way!


  • Three-Sixty Interiors

    Ann, I’m so glad these were helpful for you! Good luck with any future moves ;)

  • Ann Walls

    Oh my goodness, there are so many cool tips here. I’ve moved a lot too but seem to do it the hard way. No more! I am going to implement some of these tips now.

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