When you start taking the first steps of getting ready to move, you may ask yourself: Where did all of these belongings come from? Who let you accumulate all of this stuff? Why do you even need it? Where do you begin? What if you need some of this junk between now and your moving date?
Narrowing down the items you require can feel surprisingly difficult when you already have so much on your plate planning and orchestrating a move. The good news is that we’re here to provide a list of items that you typically will not need in the days and weeks leading up to your move. These are the belongings you can safely pack first when moving, knowing that there is little to no chance you’ll need them before you load up the truck and relocate to your new home.
1. Holiday items
Decorating for the holidays is not typically a priority when you’re in the middle of a move, no matter if you’re moving in the summer or close to the celebration day. With the exception of key items necessary for important religious practices and unskippable family traditions, pack everything else away.
TSI TIP: If your move doesn’t coincide with any holidays, your holiday items may already be packed up. Take a moment to check that they are safely packed for a move—you may need to add some extra padding to protect fragile or valuable decor.
2. Out-of-season and special event clothes
Depending on the season and the climate of the location you live in and are moving to, you can also start packing away some of your clothes. Pack up items that don’t fit the current weather, like shorts and linens in the winter or winter coats and weightier fabrics if you’re moving in the summer. You can also put away your best dresses and suits (unless you have a wedding or other must-attend event between now and moving day).
Get our advice for how to pack clothing.
3. Fine china and other “special occasion only” items
If you have fine china, guest towels, soaps, or other items that aren’t used unless special guests are visiting, these are the items you can pack away next. Even if you happen to have company before the moving date, guests can make do with standard plates, basic soap, and regular towels until after your move.
4. Decorative items, knick-knacks, and tchotchkes
Figurines and models, memorabilia, candles, pottery, artwork and photographs, trinkets, and other decorative items should all be packed away carefully. It’s unlikely that you’ll need these decorative items before your move, and they are often some of the most delicate items in your home and the most likely to be damaged during the moving process. To avoid damage, it’s best to get them packed up before large items start getting shuffled around.
Get our advice for how to pack artwork.
5. Extra linens and towels
You likely won’t need more than two sets of linens and towels (per person or bed) between now and your move. Everything else can be folded and packed up in advance or used as packing material for other items.
6. Books and other entertainment items
If you’re not reading it right now, you don’t need to keep it out. Cull your books down to your favorites, ones that haven’t been read yet but will actually be read, and ones you will read again. Pack them up and donate the rest.
The same goes for DVDs and BluRays, records, VHS and cassette tapes, board games, and any physical copies of video games you may have laying around. Be realistic—if you no longer have a player for older forms of entertainment, there’s no need to keep them around! Streaming services and cloud storage have made many of these items obsolete.
7. Photo albums, scrapbooks, and documents
Photographs, photo albums, scrapbooks, and most hardcopy documents can easily be packed away without worry you will need them before moving day. Take care to keep your moving documents handy though—you will almost certainly need these at various points in the moving process. You’ll also want to keep your most important papers in a box that will travel with you on moving day (such as social security cards, birth certificates, passports, etc.).
Set aside the pieces you wear the most and pack away everything else. Carefully label this box and put it somewhere safe. Write down where that safe place is in your phone or on your moving checklist so that you actually remember where you put it.
TSI TIP: For peace of mind, keep your box of jewelry with you in your personal vehicle during the move.
9. Seasonal furniture, equipment, toys, and cookware
Pack up your camping gear, BBQ tools, outdoor couches, cushions, and tables, inflatable pools and lawn water slides, and anything else that is outdoor-only, especially if you’re moving in the winter. Space heaters also fall into this category.
10. Crafting and hobbyist items
Unless your craft and hobby materials and tools are your last refuge of serenity and sanity during the move, you can pack up all of your yarn, sewing supplies, fabrics, woodworking tools, etc. after decluttering them.
Conclusion: What to Pack First When Moving
When you are looking at packing up an entire apartment or house worth of stuff, deciding where to begin the packing process can be overwhelming. It’s easy to get bogged down in the little details and get off track with so much to do. One of the keys to a successful move is to start early, which means starting with the things you need the least:
- Holiday items
- Out-of-season and special event clothing
- Fine china and other ‘special occasion only’ items
- Decorative items, knick-knacks, and tchotchkes
- Extra linens and towels
- Books and other entertainment items
- Photo albums, scrapbooks and documents
- Seasonal furniture, equipment, toys, and cookware
- Crafting and hobbyist items
Learn What to Do With Your Decluttering Pile and How to Properly Pack Your Boxes.