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Packing Your Stuff to Move When Downsizing


You can have the very best movers, pay them the cost of a small vehicle and have everything agreed upon in writing; but that just doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter because the things they are packing, taping, wrapping and loading onto a truck do not belong to them.  So what to do? What to do?  Moving is very stressful, but she agreed to document her move with pictures, so it could possibly be helpful to other gypsies. Packing your stuff in stages can help reduce that stress.

Packing up the attic.
Packing up the attic.


  • Contact all utilities to have accounts closed, opened or changed prior to the move.
  • Fill out a change of address form with the Post Office with effective date.
  • Open a Safety Deposit Box account close to your new home and transfer all official documents.
  • Working room by room, begin by placing three large, lined trash cans in the room you are working in.  Every item you touch must go in one of these three cans.  I label mine with DONATION – TRASH – REPAIRS.  Everything left in the room will be packed.  (If you discover something from the kitchen in a bedroom, then by all means move it to the room where it is suppose to live.)
  • Anything to be repaired will be stored in a specific place until a time it can be delivered to the proper repairman.  Try to schedule all repairs so that the item(s) are either delivered to your new address or back in time for your movers to move them for you.

How do you decide what is trash/donation/worth repairing?  Ask yourself these questions.

  1. Is this an heirloom or does it hold any sentimental value?
  2. Have I used/worn this within the last year?
  3. Will I have a special occasion to use/wear this in the next year?
  4. Do I have something else that could easily be used in its place?
  5. Is it worth what it would cost to repair or update?
  6. Would I purchase this at a thrift store?  (If the answer is no, throw it in the trash!)


If you are packing yourself then follow the steps below.  If your movers are also packing you, then SUPERVISE, SUPERVISE, SUPERVISE.  Having moved 15 times in my life, I know this may sound harsh, but if you cherish the things it’s taken you a lifetime to collect then do the following:

  1. Before your movers/packers arrive, prepare a list for each room containing every item you consider irreplaceable.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a plastic duck that’s dressed in your uncle’s baby clothes, if it is important to you, tell them.  And here is where you HAVE to speak to your packers and eventually your movers like they were your children — with a lot of respect and with great diplomacy, you will make them feel like these items belong to them.  Be careful though, you don’t want them to mistakenly go to their house with your stuff!
  2. Have them read over the list with you in each room, pointing to and touching each item as they go.   Even if you are paying them by the second, this is worth a little extra time to bring your movers into your little family.  Tell them one or two stories of why these items are important to you and ask them questions about similar belongings they own. The more personal you become, the more personal care they will take with your things.
  3. Talk with them throughout the day, asking if they are ok when moving heavy items.  A sincere act of kindness goes a long way.
  4. Buy their lunch, including something sweet for an afternoon pick up.  If you invest in them personally, they should invest in you as well.
  5. It is the same with furniture.  Have them tell you more than once exactly how they plan to wrap your sofa and move the 300 pound piano. Here’s the trick to this; if they hear themselves say it more than once, then you have a better chance of them remembering their own words when they are tired and want to take short cuts.


Go to the bank ahead of time and have your cash tip ready so you don’t have to add a stop to the bank on the day of the move.  If they do a great job of listening to you, then I would tip them generously.  You generally tip the supervisor of the move the most, and then a percentage of that to each mover.  My recommendation is this, if you had an absolutely phenomenal experience give the supervisor $50 and $25 to each additional mover.  We had two moves to two separate residences recently and after our initial move, they asked us to request them for the second half of the move.  What a compliment!

If it was mediocre, $35 to supervisor and $20 to each mover.  If you have lots of damage, carelessness and rude behavior it is within your right not to tip.  However, if you had one person on the team who was conscientious and responsible with your things, don’t punish him/her for the bad behavior of the rest of the group.  I would tip them generously.

Moving Preparations

  • Schedule a donation pick up the day before the move if possible.  This gives you the opportunity to add last minute items to your donations.  The following items were donated to a charity/organization dear to Denise’s heart…The Foundry in Bessemer, AL.

Donations for a local charity Denise is passionate about... The Foundry in Bessemer, AL

Donations to a local charity that Denise is passionate about. The Foundry in Bessemer, AL

PACKING Your Stuff

  • Start with a couple of “First Night” boxes.  Include bedding, mattress pads, pillows, sheets, towels, coffee, filters, coffee maker and mugs, medicines – especially Advil – and pet supplies.  Be sure you have toilet paper, paper towels, paper products and plastic knives and forks. If you are using a bed skirt on any beds, have them in your first night box so you don’t have to take the bed apart when you are exhausted to put it on.
  • Small children? Ask a friend or relative to allow them to sleepover for a couple of nights, until toys and familiar things are set up.  If you are moving where you know no one, then pack a first night and day box for each child so they will have familiar things to help transition to a new place.  Have someone hook up tv’s and video games immediately if they are too young to help unpack.
Packing up the Dining Room.
Packing up the Dining Room.
  • Pack dishes in a dish barrel.
  • Wrap every fragile item in tissue – not newspaper – unless you want to wash everything when you unpack it.
  • Use several layers of tissue to pack more than one plate at a time, but be careful when unwrapping it.
  • Place several layers of tissue in the bottom of the box for cushion.
  • Pack heaviest things on the bottom with fragile things on the top.
  • Keep an inventory of items that may be needed during the first couple of days, and tape this to the outside of the box.  Label the box with the name of the room it is going to and if it is fragile or heavy.
  • Pack candles separately.
  • Label any boxes with flammable items.  (Moving companies will not move anything flammable.)
  • Pack books in small boxes and label them HEAVY.packing your stuff for downsizing
  • When packing your stuff yourself, use every possible storage container/bag/tote that you own in order to have as few loose items as possible.


Denise told me that in hindsight there were a few things she would have done differently as she looks in the rearview mirror of this move.

  1. She would have had plenty of snacks on hand for everybody.  They had plenty to drink, but no food and didn’t have time to go get any, since they were paying movers by the hour.  Pizza, anyone?  Sometimes, you have to splurge and forget your health!
  2. She said it would have made it easier on everyone if they’d had several people helping them move.  Some Sunday School friends helped them out, but both their boys are in college and it would have been nice to have had some of their friends’ younger backs involved.IMG_7251
Sunday School Helpers... aka Angels from Heaven
Sunday School Helpers… aka Angels from Heaven


  • Hand Trucks
  • Box Cutters
  • Gloves (smart guys in the picture!)
  • Back Braces
  • Advil (yes I know it’s not a tool, but it sho comes in handy!)
  • Screw drivers and other tools
  • Cables and all electrical wiring for connecting televisions
  • Light Bulbs
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Notebook and Pen to write things down you don’t want to forget
  • Batteries
  • Flashlights
  • Trash Bags and at least one large can set up in the kitchen.
  • Telephones and/or cell phones and chargers

It may not matter to your movers what “stuff” they are moving, but with a little planning, kindness and help from your Sunday School class, it’s possible to see the good in moving.  If you move in August, you will be sweating small stuff out of your pores, but hopefully, by keeping calm and carrying on, you’ll soon be sipping ice cold tea on your new deck.  And inviting new and old friends alike to share in the experience…..

Post describing the completed move will be in the next week or so.  Sooner if I know Denise…As always, comments are welcome.  Compliments are loved.

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