How to Organize and Keep Family Memorabilia Safe During a Move

Advice for Moving

by Carla Levine

One of the most wonderful and difficult parts of a move is going through your family memorabilia. Wonderful…because the process of preparing for a move ultimately leads to your looking through all of the old photographs, children’s artwork, papers, keepsakes and memorabilia that you possibly hadn’t spent time looking at in years. Major part of memorabilia contains pictures in fragile frames which left us wondering how to pack pictures for moving?

Warning: When Sitting Down To Go Through Memorabilia, What Should Be A Quick Process Can Turn Into An All-Night Affair Once Your Family Sits Down With You, And You Start Reminiscing Rather Than Organizing And Packing! So Plan To Do This In A Systematic, Dispassionate Manner—And Possibly Without Children & Family Members In The Same Room Who Might Prolong The Process!

Difficult—because this is often the time when, for the sake of organization and moving, you are faced with the challenge of discarding precious items, something that is often not emotionally easy to do. i.e. moving fragile items and moving mirror boxes.

Here is a step-by-step guide to help you organize and keep your family memorabilia safe during a move.

The following categories tend to work for most people:

**Children’s papers (this includes your children’s report cards, notes and scribblings to you, schoolwork, artwork, playbills and sports programs, and anything from their childhood you have been keeping)

**Your parents’ old papers (this includes sentimental papers of your parents and grandparents that you now have possession of, such as their marriage license and articles about them.)

**Photos (these can be any type of photos—from family reunions to trips)

**Personal papers that are meaningful to you. (This includes anything you are holding onto for sentimental purpose). Examples include the following:

**Personal writings such as poetry and creative writing, speeches, articles, awards and certificates

*Newspaper and magazine articles you saved for their personal or historical significance

*Cards and letters from family and friends

**Keepsake Items from meaningful events you attended and trips you went on. This includes such small items as playbills, tickets to a football game, keys to a hotel room, sports programs, and brochures from places you visited.

**Keepsake Books such as Yearbooks Photo Albums and Scrapbook

**Collectibles. These are generally items that are Worth Money and May Be Fragile.

These can include anything from vintage doll & toy collections to figurines to comic book collections (if your parents did not throw them out one day!) to old music albums & posters to figurines & small pieces of pottery.

2. Step 2 is the challenging process of discarding, so that you can more effectively organize and enjoy what you have.

The truth is that you don’t have to discard in order to organize and move. If time is short before your move, you may want to hold off on discarding until such time as you have at least one full day to go through the process. You don’t want to take a chance of throwing out, in your zeal to discard and get moving, something that is precious to you and will one day be very missed. But…if you have enough time, the process of moving can pu you in the perfect mindset to discard and organize your papers. That way, you will move into your new home with everything fresh and organized. And if you have sufficient time, the process of discarding and organizing can be a fun and meaningful event for your children.

The decision to discard begs the question…how does one decide what to discard? Are there any helpful “rules” or concepts to use when making the decision? There are several sites online that can help you through this sometimes emotional or stressful process. Try these to start:

3. Step 3 is putting your items in the appropriate containers for the move.
Here are our suggestions, which many of our clients have used very successfully.

For packing fragile items and collectibles, you will need to purchase the following:

*Packing Paper (also known as Newsprint),

*Bubble Roll

*Carton Tape

*Moving Cartons

The primary box you will use is a Book Carton. (also known as 1.5 Cubic Foot Moving Box). If you are packing anything too large for a Book Carton, you can use a Medium Carton (3.0 Cubic Foot Moving Box) or a Dish Pak. Dish Paks are built to be sturdier and hold more weight than medium or large cartons, so they are perfect for ceramic and glass items.

Wrap each item up separately so that you can ensure its safety during a move. Prepare each book carton by lining the bottom with a small amount of crumpled up packing paper. This will provide you with a cushion which helps during the moving process. Then wrap each item with packing paper, as you would a diaper.

For Help With This, see our instructional video on diaper wrapping. For even more protection, use bubble roll instead of Packing Paper.

When putting wrapped items into your book carton, stand the items up if possible. Standing items upright rather than laying them flat. Be sure when you are done filling up the box that you have struck a happy medium between putting too many items in the box (you don’t want to overstuff which can minimize the cushioning between items) and understaffing (which can result in too much room in between items—which also minimizes the cushioning). If you are using a Dish Pak, you will need a lot of layers of Packing Paper to ensure that each layer is amply protected.

Once you are finished packing your items, crumple up your packing paper and extra pieces of bubble roll and put them anywhere in the box that there is empty space. You want to fill up all the box completely with cushioning paper or wrap so that none of your precious items can move around the box during transit. Be sure when taping that no tape touches your items.

Label your box with the word FRAGILE once you tape your carton closed using a wide dark marker. It also helps to mark on the box the room your box should be delivered to by the mover.

Photo Albums and scrapbooks should ideally be wrapped in Acid Free Packing Paper before being placed in a moving carton. Given the weight of these items, use the smallest box possible. If they can fit into a book carton (1.5 cubic feet), that is great. If not, use a medium sized moving carton (3.0 cubic feet). Be sure that your carton tape does not accidentally adhere to the album during the taping process.

Sports Cards (such as Baseball Cards) and collectible Comic Books should ideally be placed in extra heavy top loaders or sleeves (of appropriate size), which can then be inserted into binders or plastic storage containers that snap shut.

For more advice and discussion, see

Coins should be packed in coin collection books made especially for coin collections. Once you have ensured that all of your coins are safely placed inside of a book, use a rubber band to ensure that the book stays shut. Then wrap the book carefully first in Wrapping Paper and then in Plastic Wrap to protect against water damage. As coins are heavy, you should use a small carton, such as a 1.5 book carton, for carrying your coin collection books.

Given that coin collections can be very valuable, you should also strongly consider taking this with you during the move. For collections that are very valuable—which can make some movers nervous regarding theft, you may wish to inquire about hiring professional armored carriers.

Stamps should always be kept safe in a stamp album and in a moisture-free environment. For excellent advice on keeping your stamps safe, see

Make sure that you use stamp albums with adhesives that won’t ultimately harm your stamps. Once all of your stamps are safely in a stamp album, use a rubber band to ensure that your album will stay shut. Then wrap your book carefully, first in Wrapping Paper or Bubble Roll, and then in Plastic Wrap to protect against water damage.

Not only are our photographs some of our most precious items, those taken before the digital age are usually irreplaceable. It’s therefore crucial to make sure that your photographs are moved (and subsequently stored) safely.

Before moving, photos should ideally be organized and placed in photo albums. In order to best preserve your pictures and give you the ability to move them in and out of your photo albums safely in the future, we recommend using albums that contain plastic sleeves and pockets. Albums which work by your pressing pictures onto a sticky surface, which you then cover with plastic, can become problematic in time—as you may have difficulties later on in removing your pictures without tearing them.

That being said, be careful that the pockets in the plastic sleeves of your album are the correct size for your photos. If your pockets are larger than your pictures, it is possible that your pictures will slide out during a move. So when purchasing inserts for your photo albums, buy sleeves with pockets in a variety of sizes to accommodate all of your pictures (4 X 6’s, 5 X 7’s, 3 X 5’s, etc.).

In addition, be mindful not to overstuff any one sleeve pocket (as a rule, no more than two pictures should be inserted per pocket). or to overstuff your album with too many sleeves.This could potentially injure the binding of your album.

Finally, prior to packing your albums into a moving carton, ensure that each of your photo albums is closed securely with a rubber band— keeping the album firmly shut during the move.

If you don’t have time to organize your pictures in albums, the next best option is to store and move your pictures in photo boxes.

In order to best preserve your photos, look for photo boxes that meet the following criteria:

*Acid free

*Lignin free

*Dimensions not too large, as you don’t want your photos to move around during the move, or too small, as you don’t want your pictures to bend or crease.

If you find that there is empty space inside of your photo box, take very small amounts of crumpled tissue paper and gently place the soft paper into the empty spaces of your box. This is to prevent your pictures from moving around in the box and getting injured.

If you have sufficient time to organize your pictures, you can do so chronologically or thematically—and then use dividers to label each category.

As with your photo albums, be sure that each photo box is shut tightly, and use a rubber band to ensure that the box remains firmly closed during your move.

Here is a great resource for properly handling and preserving your pictures prior to your move.

Photo Albums and Scrapbooks, once they are safely secured shut, should be wrapped—preferably in Acid Free Packing Paper— before being placed in a moving carton. Given the weight of these items, use the smallest box possible, such as a 1.5 cubic foot book carton. If your albums are too large to fit into a book carton, use a medium sized moving carton (3.0 cubic feet). Be sure that your carton tape does not accidentally adhere to the album during the taping process.

When packing your photo boxes into a moving carton, be sure that you fill up all the empty spaces in the moving carton with wrapping paper so that the photo albums cannot move around. Many movers suggest placing your albums, as with your books, sitting up, rather than laying them flat.

Given how precious your photos may be to you, consider taking those photo albums and/or photo boxes that contain the most important pictures with you during the move.

Here is a great resource for properly handling and preserving your pictures prior to your move.

Your important papers (this includes everything from articles, creative writing, cards, letters, to your grandparents’ marriage certificates and anything meaningful to you) should ideally be placed in thematically organized scrapbooks. This will help preserve the papers the best and allow them to be safely moved.

If you don’t have time for this, put all your papers together and purchase small plastic crates which can then be labeled appropriated according to the theme or time period of the papers.

The same holds true for moving your children’s papers (which includes everything from report cards to Mother’s Day Cards and elementary school art projects). Items that can fit in a scrapbook should ideally be placed there. Otherwise, keep everything together in small plastic containers that are appropriated labeled.

Make sure that the small plastic containers are closed securely. Fill up all empty space inside the container with soft crushed wrapping paper so that your papers won’t move around during the move and tear or bend.

You can then stack these plastic crates on top of each other in a moving carton. I suggest using a particularly strong carton for this, such as a Dish Pack or Wardrobe Box.

As we all know, our collections over the years —from Barbie Dolls or G.I Joes to well preserved magazines with important headlines to comic books—may be worth a great deal of money.

It is important to make sure you do the following:

As noted above, all items should be appropriately wrapped separately to preserve its safety during the move, and put in cartons that are small enough to hold its weight without sagging.

Assess the worth prior to your move. You may wish to call your insurance company to make sure that your items are insured for loss, and your insurance company may want you to first get your collection professionally appraised.

If your collection is very valuable, either in terms of its financial or sentimental value, you may wish to consider taking it with you during the move.

How to Pack Collectibles: Coins, Dolls, Figurines, and Memorabilia, Oh My!
What do you collect? Coins, stamps, figurines, concert posters? Something else? As a collector myself, (of Fiestaware and Holiday Barbies®) I can totally relate to what you’re going through. The thought of packing up these treasures and putting them into a moving truck is a little nerve-wracking. When you spend so much time and money curating a collection, there’s no question you want to pack it with care to ensure it arrives exactly how it left.

See the picture below – they’re just a few favorites from my Holiday Barbie® collection (Wedding Fantasy Barbie, the 1988 Holiday Barbie, and Holiday Cinderella!) Yes, I have the complete in-box collection! After many, many years in the same house, my parents are moving and the collection must move, too. That means I’ve had to figure out how to move them. In preparation, I talked with a U-Pack moving specialist about moving collectibles and got some great advice that you may find helpful when it comes time to pack your collection.

Moving a Barbie collection
If you’re planning to downsize and are trying to figure out what options you have for selling or donating these types of items, keep reading to the end for some great ideas!

Packing Different Types of Collectibles
When people talk about collectibles, they’re usually referring to a few different type of things: those things kept in their original boxes (often toys); fragile items like ceramics, pottery, and glass figurines; paper items like posters, stamps, documents, and books; and coins or currency.

So today, let’s take a look at some tips for how to pack each of these. And if you have a collectibles that I haven’t touched on here, be sure to check out our general packing tips to make sure you cover all the basics!

How to Pack Boxed Collectibles: Vintage Toys and Dolls
As you know, collectibles in their original boxes are more valuable because, well, they’re still in their original boxes. Doing these things will help protect them in transit:

Wrap each box individually in acid-free packing paper. Be careful to tape only to the paper because taping to the box could damage it.

Next, wrap the box in bubble roll, paying special attention to corners and edges.

Prepare a larger box to pack them into. Place a layer of crushed paper at the bottom to pad the bottom of the box.

Place the wrapped boxes into the larger box.

Make sure there’s no wiggle room. Use crushed packing paper to fill any gaps within the box.

Place a layer of crushed packing paper on top. This will help protect boxes from getting cut when opening the moving box at the destination.

Mark the box “FRAGILE,” and avoid stacking heavy boxes on top of it in the moving trailer or ReloCube.

How to Pack Fragile Collectibles: Figurines, Pottery, Ceramics, and Glass
Wrap each piece in bubble roll or several sheets of packing paper. If you have smaller items, you may also want to consider using dish protector sleeves.

As you wrap, take care not to tape to your collectibles, as it could damage the finish or paint.

Prepare a box to pack them into. Place a layer of crushed paper at the bottom to pad the bottom of the box.

Place the items in boxes. If they are heavier, use a small box (we recommend 40 pounds max in a box). Or if they are smaller, you could use a dish pack box (pictured in the image below).

As you pack, keep items upright. Fragile items travel better standing upright than laying down.

Place crumbled packing paper around each item to pad them. Give the box a gentle shake. If items shift, pad with more paper.

Mark boxes “FRAGILE.” Take care when loading not to place anything heavy on top of the box.

Small moving boxes for collectibles
How to Pack Paper Collectibles: Stamps, Posters, and Documents
Most of the time, paper items are in some sort of album, frame, or book; if your items are loose, I recommend putting them into an album with acid-free pages to protect them. If they’re in albums, just wrap the albums in acid-free packing paper and place them in the moving box. To pack posters, roll them, place them in poster tubes, and pack them into boxes.

How to Pack Coins and Currency
We recommend keeping these types of high-value items with you during transit. It’s also important to check with your homeowner’s insurance company to determine whether the collection is covered while it’s in transit. I recently read a thread online about coin collectors moving their collections (often worth $25,000+) and being nervous about traveling with them. If that’s you, you may want to follow the suggestion mentioned in the thread – hire an armored transport carrier, like Brinks or Loomis, to move your coin collection for you.

As for packing your collection, whether you choose to transport it yourself or use another method, they will need to be wrapped in packing paper and boxed for transport. Boxes over 40 lbs. may be difficult to carry, so it’s wise to use smaller boxes to make them more manageable.