A Packing Checklist to Avoid Last-Second Chaos


You’ve probably come across the popular adage: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. When it comes to packing for your house move, failure can lead to broken and lost items or, at the very least, moving day chaos.

Planning doesn’t have to be an intricate, time-consuming process but it should be started early. Give yourself at least eight weeks to create your moving plan to avoid any last-minute stress. There is no standard format to follow, but the following six-step checklist should be sufficient.

For each of the steps listed below, write down some goals and tick them off once they have been achieved.


Step 1: Prioritize a packing order and collect together items you won’t need.


Make a list of the items you will be packing first and those you can leave until last. To make sure you don’t miss anything, systematically move from room to room and organize your list by room type. Candidates for early packing include out-of-season clothes, pictures, ornaments, books and all but essential DIY equipment. If you have a lot of spare cutlery and crockery, you might also want to prune this down early to save yourself time later.

While you are going around, bring some bags and/or boxes with you. This is for collecting those belongings that you don’t want to bring with you and can be divided into those that can be sold, those that you want to donate to charity and the rest which can be put in the trash or, where possible, recycled.

A list of rooms can then be generated using Google Keep, Google Docs or some other cloud-based software and printed as and when needed (when packing, to hand to the movers, when unloading, etc.). Once printed, you can simply stick the correct colored spot to each item on the list.

Step 2. Arrange a yard sale and charity run.


Arranging a yard sale is a fun way to start the moving process off. If you have children, this is an ideal way to get them involved and used to the fact that things are about to change.

If you have a lot of friends in the neighborhood, a yard sale combined with some food and drinks is a nice way to say your goodbyes.You might even get some offers of help for when you finally get down to the packing.

Each room is assigned a color and any boxes associated with that room receives five stickers of the relevant color. These are placed on the top left corner of each side of the box and on the lid so that you can always see, at a glance, where each and every box needs to be moved to.


As well as raising some money to help cover moving expenses, selling your unwanted stuff also makes the packing process seem a lot more manageable.

Good quality items that you can’t sell can be added to your charity pile and donated to a good cause while junk can be simply recycled or thrown out.

 Step 3. Create a labeling system


There are many different types of labeling system that people have come up with ranging from scrawling on the side of each box with permanent marker to complicated lists with cross-referenced tables.

One of the simplest yet most effective labeling systems involves the use of large colored sticky spots and a simple list with a color key.

Each room is assigned a color and any boxes associated with that room receives five stickers of the relevant color. These are placed on the top left corner of each side of the box and on the lid so that you can always see, at a glance, where each and every box needs to be moved to.

A sheet of paper with a couple of colored spots can then be fixed to the wall opposite the door in every room of your new house.

This easy system can be used by almost everyone, including young children, and will significantly speed up your unloading and unpacking when you arrive at your new destination.


Step 4. Order in your packing supplies

Using your list of items, you can now order in your packing supplies. You want to strike a balance between ordering enough spare supplies to avoid running out (and risking lost items and breakages) and not spending more than you need.

In addition to quality packing boxes (always a safer option than using store boxes), you will need moving blankets for protecting heavy furniture, plenty of bubble roll (of different sizes), packing tape (not forgetting a convenient packing tape dispenser) and, of course, colored spot labels if you decide to use the labeling system outlined in Step 3.

If you are self-driving, consider buying or hiring dollies and scuff shields as these will make transporting difficult items such as ovens, refrigerators, washing machines and sofas much easier.

Step 5. Start the packing process


Your colored spots and packing items have arrived, you’ve rid the house of everything you’re not taking with you and you have a list of all the things you are bringing, in priority order.

Now it’s time to pack up those non-essentials you identified in Step 1. Some popular packing tips you might want to follow include:

  • Avoid overloading boxes.
  • Packing paper plates between ceramic plates.
  • Packing clothes in batches of 6-8 hangers, using a large coat or belt to keep the hangers together.
  • Using tea towels, sheets and even clothing to wrap delicate items.
  • Packing heavy items in compact cartons.
  • Stuffing glass tumblers into socks.
  • Collecting important documents together in ziplocks and locking them in a safe if possible.


    Step 6. Finish with an essentials bag and your valuables


    The last bag of all you should be packing is an essentials bag (this could be a suitcase, a holdall, a rucksack or a combination of these). Whatever time of day or night you arrive at your destination, you can unpack your essentials bag and access anything you might need to tide you over.

    The most obvious items to put into your essentials bag/s would be toothbrushes and toothpaste, towels, a facecloth, soap, blankets, snacks, drinks, a torch, underwear, pajamas and a change of clothes or two.

    You will also want to pack a valuables bag to be kept on your person during the move. This would contain money, credit cards, ID, mobile devices, chargers, medication, health insurance documents and other items you can’t do without

    The above six-step plan is well within every family’s capability and will help any move go that little bit more smoothly.