Packing for a move – Part II

I have a friend that won some kind of prize from her moving guys by labelling one box “very miscellaneous” and another “random assorted.” While the labels were memorable (and funny), I doubt she remembered what was in those boxes the next day, let alone by the time she got around to unpacking them.

This brings me to the second major component of the packing system, labelling the boxes. You can do it one of two ways depending on how you are moving. The simplest way is to put enough detail on each box that anyone who is involved in the moving process can read the label and deliver it to the right place without needing to ask you every time. For example you might have a box labelled “Kitchen/ crockery” and another labelled “Dining room/ crockery.” The first part of the label will tell whoever is helping on moving day where the box is to go, and the second part for whenever you get around to unpacking the dining room boxes. There is generally a spot where all the boxes that won’t be unpacked immediately end up (probably the dining room from the previous example, do many people use a dining table for dining at anymore?), and that’s where the boxes of all framed photos or knickknacks will go.

The other way of labelling might work better for you if you are helping someone else move or things are going into storage, and that is just to number the boxes and write a basic inventory on a list. I have used this for people who were helping elderly relatives who couldn’t be more involved in the packing process. Once the inventory was finished I typed it all up in a spreadsheet for them, so if the relative asked for a specific thing down the track they could search for it and then get the most likely box from storage. This was very helpful when the wife collected china and art, the husband had military paraphernalia and they both had travel mementos.

One last note on labelling, always make sure you label the top and at least 2 sides of the box because nothing is surer than the only side you label will be the one that gets turned to the wall or another pile of boxes. Ditto any Fragile warnings.

And here is the sneaky main reason I like to get people to pack and sort like this: once you have made decisions about what kind of a thing it is you are packing, the decision about whether you really want to keep it has pretty much made itself. If you find you have a box of stuff you’ve borrowed that you need to give back to a number of different people, it’s all in one place and easy to say “Hey I have that thing to give back to you, want to come and get it (and also help me pack a few more boxes)?” Win win!

The box that has all the stuff that horrible ex left behind can go straight in the bin with all the stuff that made you sad or angry because you associated it with them (of course you could offer to the stuff back first, if you’re a better person than I am). The box of stuff from all over the house that might be useful for a craft project some time in the future will be the first box I gleefully attack if you come to me for help with minimising or spring cleaning.

Which leads nicely to my next post about what to do with the stuff you don’t need to keep but you don’t want to throw into landfill either.

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