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Packing Tips

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Good packing is essential for a good move. It sets the stage for a secure and orderly transition of your belongings. Whether you’re relocating across town or the country, mastering the art of packing can significantly ease the moving process. Here are some expert packaging tips to help you pack efficiently, reduce stress, and ensure your items are well-protected throughout your move.

China, glassware & silverware

Moving company packers use a dish pack — an exceptionally sturdy corrugated carton of double-wall construction — for china, glassware, and other fragile items less than 18 inches in size. Unless cartons of similar strength and construction are valuable, you might want to purchase several dish packs from the moving company.

Wrap all pieces of china and glassware individually in clean paper. Using several sheets of paper, start from the corner, wrapping diagonally and continuously tucking in overlapping edges. A double layer of newspaper serves well as an outer wrapping. A generous amount of paper padding and cushioning is required for all china and glassware. Label cartons, “FRAGILE — THIS SIDE UP.”

Flat china & glassware

Larger china and glass plates, platters, and other flat pieces are excellent as the lowest layer in a dish pack. Place cushioning material in the bottom of a carton. Wrap each piece individually, then wrap up to three in a bundle with a double layer of newspaper. Place these bundled items in the carton in a row on the edge.

Surround each bundle with crushed paper, carefully leaving no unfilled spaces. Add two or three inches of crushed paper to the bundle to protect rims and make a level base for the next tier. Horizontal cardboard dividers can help keep layers level.

Smaller plates, saucers, and shallow bowls can make up a second layer. Wrap and pack in the same way as larger items.

Bowls & odd-shaped items

These might be used as the bottom or middle layers, depending on their weight. Wrap the same way as flat plates. Stand shallow bowls (soup plates, etc.) on the edge of the carton and deep ones (such as mixing bowls) nested two or three together, upside down on their rims.

Wrap sugar bowl lids in tissue, turning them upside down on the bowl. Then, wrap both together in clean paper, followed by an outer double layer of newspaper. Wrap cream pitchers in clean paper and then a double outer wrapping. Place sugar bowls, cream pitchers, sauce containers, and similar pieces upright in the carton. Complete the layer as for plates.


Even when using a dish pack and mini-cells for china, wrap cups individually, protecting handles with an extra layer of paper. Then, pack the cups upside down.

If not using a dish pack or cells, wrap cups as described in a double layer of paper and place them upside down on rims in a row on an upper layer with all handles facing the same direction. Complete the layer as for plates.


Because air causes silver to tarnish, all silver pieces should be enclosed completely in clean tissue paper or plastic wrap. Holloware — including bowls, tea sets, and serving dishes — should be wrapped carefully as fragile items and packed like china.

Loose flatware may be wrapped either individually or in sets and in clear plastic or tissue.

If silverware is in a chest, you might want to wrap the pieces individually and reposition them. Or, fill in all empty spaces in the chest with tissue paper or paper towels. Wrap the chest with a large bath towel.

Figurines & other delicate items

Wrap first in tissue paper, paper towels, or facial tissue. Then, wrap carefully in a newsprint that has been crushed and flattened out. Be sure the items are well-protected with plenty of cushioning.

Small mirrors, plaques, and pictures should be wrapped individually in tissue paper. A bath towel or small blanket makes an excellent outer wrapping and padding for glass. Place items on the edge in a carton.

Fragile items

Many moving companies use a material called a bubble pack (plastic with bubbles) for exceptionally fragile items. If an item is extremely valuable and delicate, it might be wise to have it packed for you. Special materials might be needed for maximum protection.

Artificial flowers

An arrangement of artificial flowers should be packed in its own carton. Wrap carefully in plastic wrap, tissue paper, or paper towels. If possible, fasten the base of the floral piece to the bottom of the carton. Label the carton “FRAGILE — THIS SIDE UP.”

For instructions on moving live plants, ask your agent for a “Moving With House Plants” brochure.

Lamp bases

After removing the light bulb and lamp harp, wrap the base, harp, and bulb separately in newsprint. (Use paper pads for large lamps.) Place them together in a carton, filling spaces with crushed paper. More than one well-cushioned lamp may be packed in a carton.

Lamp shades

Never wrap lampshades in the newspaper. Carefully wrap each shade in three or four sheets of tissue paper, a pillowcase, or a large lightweight towel.

Use a sturdy carton at least two inches larger than the largest shade to allow for movement. Line it with clean paper, using crushed paper under the lampshade to create a protective layer, but not around the shade. A small shade can be nested inside a large one if you are sure they will not touch. Only one silk shade should be placed in a carton to avoid stretching the silk.

Do not pack other items with shades. Label cartons “LAMP SHADES — FRAGILE.”

It is best to have the moving company crate large Tiffany-type or other glass lampshades or chandeliers.

Glass table tops, marble slabs, large mirrors, paintings, statues & large vases

All are easily damaged. Glass might shatter, and marble slabs can crack at veins. Paper should never be permitted to touch the surface of an oil painting. It’s best to consult with your moving company about custom-made cartons and crates for items of this kind.


Pack them either flat or with the spine touching the bottom of the carton. Do not pack with the spine facing up, as glue can break away from the binder. Pack books of the same general size together.

Expensively bound volumes or those of special sentimental value should be individually wrapped before packing. Because books are heavy, be sure to use small cartons.


Family photographs, videos, slides and negatives should be packed in separate cartons rather than being combined with other household items.

Protect framed photos with padding and cushioning, standing them on edge in a carton. Label cartons clearly for easy identification. If possible, carry irreplaceable items with you to your destination.

Compact discs, tapes & records

Remove these items from the stereo or storage cabinet. Keep in mind records are heavy and should be packed in small cartons. If records are not in jackets, wrap them individually in tissue paper or plastic wrap to protect them from being scratched.

Stand compact discs and records on edge, never flat, on a layer of crushed paper. Support at both ends with a large, hardcover book or several pieces of cardboard cut to fit. Top with another layer of crushed paper. Identify contents on the outside of the box and mark “FRAGILE.”

Cassette tapes should be placed in the protective plastic box in which they came, if possible, and then wrapped individually in crumpled paper. Place individual tapes either vertically or horizontally on a couple of layers of crushed paper.


Clothing left on hangers and placed in wardrobe cartons used by moving companies will arrive at the destination wrinkle-free. You might want to purchase several special cartons from your moving company. One will hold about two feet of compressed clothing on hangers.

If wardrobe cartons are unused, each garment should be removed from its hanger, folded, and placed in a suitcase or a carton lined with clean paper. Some lightweight clothing — such as lingerie and sweaters — may be left in bureau drawers.

Hats may be left in hatboxes and placed in a large carton. Or, stuff the crown of each hat with crumpled tissue paper; wrap tissue loosely around the outside and place in a carton lined with clean paper, with the heavier hats on the bottom. Don’t pack anything else with hats. Label the carton “FRAGILE.”

Footwear may be left in shoe boxes and placed in a large carton. Or, wrap each shoe individually and then in pairs. Footwear should be cushioned to avoid damage to heels or ornaments. Don’t pack heavy items on top of shoes. It is recommended that you take your furs with you rather than having them moved on the van.

Linens & bedding

Blankets, sheets, tablecloths, towels, pillowcases, and other linens may be protected by a large plastic bag and packed in a carton lined with clean paper. Wrap your most prized linens in tissue. Also, linens and bedding are good for cushioning or padding many items.

Special mattress cartons in various sizes are available from your moving company for a nominal charge. Pillows may be placed in bureau drawers or packed in cartons.

Draperies & curtains

Clothing wardrobes are ideal for moving curtains and draperies. Fold them lengthwise, place them over a padded hanger, pin them securely, and hang them in the wardrobe.

Draperies and curtains may be folded and packed in cartons lined with clean paper or plastic wrap.


Leave rugs on the floor for the moving company to handle. If they’ve just been returned from the cleaners, leave them rolled.

Major appliances

Pre-move preparation is required for many major appliances. Set an appointment with a service technician to prepare your major appliances for shipment — or have your agent send someone out who is authorized to perform this service.

Small appliances

Items such as clocks, small radios, and other small appliances should be wrapped individually and packed in a carton cushioned with crushed paper.

Small clocks, transistor radios, and similar items can be packed in the same carton with linens or as extra items with lamp bases. Make sure cords are wrapped so as not to scratch or otherwise damage items.

Steam irons should be emptied of all water, wrapped, and placed in the cushioned bottom of a box.

Remove all batteries from small appliances before packing.


Long-handled garden tools, as well as brooms and mops, should be bundled together securely. Attachments should be removed from power tools and packed separately.

Hand tools may be left in tool boxes and spaces filled with crushed paper or packed according to general packing rules. Always use small cartons because tools usually are heavy.

Outdoor equipment

Before moving day, dismantle children’s swing sets, TV antennas, and garden sheds. Gather pieces and bundle them together with a nylon cord. Place small hardware in a cloth bag and securely attach it to the equipment.

Prepare the lawn mower by draining gasoline before the day of loading.


Take only food items you are sure will travel well. Do not take anything perishable. In the winter months, do not take anything subject to freezing.

Open boxes of dried or powdered foods such as rice, macaroni, and cereals should be sealed with tape. Small containers of herbs and spices, condiments, bouillon cubes, gelatin, flavorings, etc. should be placed in a small box before packing in a large carton. Cover holes of shaker-type containers and seal with tape.

Since canned goods are heavy, the amount in one carton should be limited.

A word about special household items

The popularity of home electronic items has added a new dimension for the do-it-yourself packer. Home computers, microwave ovens, and stereo systems require special care to ensure they arrive at their destination safely.

If you saved the original cartons and packing materials in which these items arrived, it is best to repack using them. Should you not have these materials, you might want to contact a store selling your particular item and ask if discarded packing materials are available.

Your Lippincott agent is familiar with current techniques for properly packing electronic items and can assist you with advice or pack the items for you. It is your responsibility to disconnect electronic items before the packers’ arrival.

Follow our packaging tips and make your packing easier

Effective packing is the key to a smooth move. By following these tips, you’re well on your way to a more organized and secure relocation. Each box you pack is a step toward your new beginning. May your move be as trouble-free as your packing is thorough. Happy moving!

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