Prior to Packing - 5 Dos and Don'ts

When packing up your house to move, it's easy to start throwing things in boxes without a second thought. You may have every intention of purging your possessions once you arrive at your new home but why not do it now?

When you're focused on a move, it pays to take time to reduce your belongings before the actual packing begins. Don't make the mistake of waiting until you are in the middle of packing! You'll want this task over with quickly and end up packing unwanted things, only to discard them later.

Some items will be easy to let go of and others will take determination. It goes without saying that the less you have to pack and move, the more streamlined your move will be. Due to the cost of moving supplies, labor, and of course....gas, downsizing your belongings has huge benefits.

Before you start packing, check out these Dos and Don'ts:

1 - Reduce the Clutter

Some of your belongings won't fit in at your new location and many are easily replaced.

  • If you are moving from the beach to the mountains, does it make sense to take your beachy furniture and artwork? Consider selling it and buying decor that fits your new environment.
  • Should you take all of your holiday decorations? Given their sizes and shapes, won't it be easier to replace them after you get settled in your new home?
  • Does your wardrobe fit the climate? Does your wardrobe fit you? Most of us keep clothing even when it no longer fits or has gone out of style. Consider donating these items and replacing them later.
  • Books are heavy and should be assessed prior to packing. With Audible Books and Kindles perhaps it's time to let some or all of them go.

2 - The Kitchen

The kitchen is most likely the biggest source of junk. We tend to bury things in the back of cupboards and forget they are there! If you haven't used something in the past year or two chances are you never will.


Takeout containers

The junk drawer

Expired food and canned goods

Kitchen gadgets

Mismatched plates, glasses, and cutlery

The refrigerator

Cookbooks - Do you use them for just one or two recipes? This is not an efficient use of space and books are some of the heaviest items to move. Consider either photocopying your favorite recipes, or actually removing their pages, and putting them in a single binder.

Takeout containers - These can be replaced once you arrive at your new home. Given that it will take time to settle in, there will likely be meals from local restaurants. If you have a drawer full of tupperware that is missing lids, it's time to get rid of those too!

The junk drawer - Do you need all of those takeout menus and old shopping lists? Are the appliances staying with the house? If so, plan on leaving the instruction manuals for the new owners.

Expired food and canned goods - Check the expiration dates on canned goods, spices, and the condiments in your refrigerator. Now is a good time to toss them if they are past their expiration date.

Kitchen gadgets - How many wooden spoons and serving trays do you need? The same with coffee mugs and souvenirs. Donating these to the Goodwill or Salvation Army can help you as well as someone in need.

Mismatched plates, glasses, and cutlery - Temporarily keep a few and plan on buying new ones after you get settled.

The refrigerator - Moving frozen or perishable food is difficult so start working your way through the refrigerator without replacing anything. As you get closer to moving, treat yourself to a few days of takeout.

3 - The Garage

Just like the kitchen, it is easy to shove things in a drawer and forget about them.

Take time to go through your shelving units, storage bins, and toolboxes and ask yourself if you will need everything at your new home.

Moving to an apartment building? Your leaf blower won't be needed there.

Moving to the desert? Chance are you won't need that lawn mower!

4 - Downsizing and Special Items

If you are downsizing for retirement or are looking for a simpler life, reducing your belongings will require some creativity. Here are a few things to consider:

Framed photos

Gifting early

Returning gifts


Framed photos - If you will have less wall space at your new home, take framed photos and move them to a photo album or make a collage.

Gifting early - Ask your future heirs if they would like some of the items that you plan for them to inherit. If they are looking forward to having them, great! You can gift them now and enjoy them too. If they have no interest, you may want to pass them on to someone else.

Returning gifts - If you're very short on space, consider returning a few gifts that you have received over the years. With an explanation and a big thank you, your friends and family will appreciate the gesture.

Furniture - Some of the furniture will have to go! Keep the loveseat and sell or donate the couch. If your dining room table won't fit in your new home, leave it and plan on buying a drop-leaf table once you get settled.

See our To Downsize, or Not to Downsize article for more tips.

5 - The Last Step: Identify a Packing Area and Purchase Moving Supplies

Now you are ready for packing!

Find an area outside of your day-to-day traffic pattern and create a packing station. Having your supplies in one location will make packing more productive and less stressful.

Purchase strapping tape, scissors, pens (or our Unique Moving Game), and a box to keep small items. You will also need packing material such as newspaper and bubble wrap. If you have extra towels keep them handy to pack breakable things.

Boxes can be found for free on your local Craigslist and Freecycle or at your favorite grocery store. We recommend produce boxes as they are very sturdy.

Purchasing them at Home Depot or from your moving company is an option as well.