Packing Will Always Suck...

But there are ways to make it more bearable. Even when you are really frustrated because your progress only looks like this:

Or if you have a dog following you around like a paranoid shadow like this:

As an organization freak, I find the best way to stay calm in the insanity of packing a house is by staying as coordinated and organized as possible. And since today starts a week focused solely on packing, I figured I'd share a few of my favorite packing tips with you. Now, I've never worked for a moving company or professionals, but this will be my sixth move in six years so I feel like I've pretty much got my system down. Still, different things will work for different folks, so take these tips with a grain of proverbial salt.

My biggest suggestion is always to start with the small, pain in the ass nit-picky stuff. For me, that happens to be wrapping the fragile stuff. China, dishes, champagne flutes and the like. If I wait until the end of the packing process to deal with these items, I'm already burned out and much less likely to pack them properly. This is also the one place where I break my "use what you've got" rule and splurge on real packing materials. For example, I always start by padding the bottom of a sturdy box with a bath towel or thick layer of hand towels, then I individually wrap each item in a good layer of bubble wrap (I got a giant roll for about $17 at Office Max).

For plates, I place a square of bubble wrap down, and then place my plate top down on top of it. If it's a large plate, I place a second square on top and tape down. Every three or so plates gets places in a plastic shopping bag for extra padding. Then I just carefully layer the plates in the box. I then use another towel (in this case a bath mat) on the top of the box to provide extra padding.

But plates are easy. It is the damn cups that kill me. They are shaped all goofy, making packing them a big challenge. Fortunately, after all of our moves, I've mastered a few tricks to make them a bit easier.

I start by stuffing a crumpled piece of bubble wrap inside the cup to provide support. Then, I place it face down on another side of wrap.

Bring up the corners one at a time, covering the entire cup and tape down. Then, I wrap each one individually in a plastic shopping bag and carefully layer in a padded box.

Once the delicate items are packed, I can then go and focus on the rest of the packing.  Now if only I could fast forward a week to the actual move!

If you're still with me, here are a few miscellaneous packing tips, in no particular order!

Stepping back to the fragile items for a minute, always make sure to wrap the stems of fancy drinking glasses. One of the biggest disappointments after a move is always a bunch of shattered wine glass stems. Simply take a piece of bubble wrap (or a scarf!) and wrap each stem before wrapping the whole glass!

Empty wine boxes make some of the BEST moving boxes. They are the perfect size to not get too heavy, and some of them even have the wine bottle dividers inside which make perfect little sections for fragile items. I just made a quick stop at Binny's, our local mega alcohol shop, and asked if they had any empty boxes I could have. Fortunately, they gave me almost two dozen! It never hurts to ask!

Outside of maybe one roll of bubble wrap for the super fragile items, use what you've got! In the shot above, not only do I have bubble wrap, but also towels and even socks. I figure why use a bunch of paper and plastic bits that I'll eventually have to throw away or recycle, when I can use all of the (clean) socks, towels, hats, scarves, t-shirts, and sweaters that I would have to pack separately anyways? While it may add a bit of extra time while unpacking since I have to separate my wine glasses from my socks, it means less boxes packed in the first place and less damage I'm doing to the environment (and our wallets).

Finally, label, label, label!!! I really can't stress enough how important it is to properly label boxes. For my first few moves, I just labeled boxes with what room they belonged to. But that meant that once I moved, I was still digging through boxes trying to find the necessary items the day we moved in. Instead, I'd find the random serving bowl I didn't need for months. Lesson learned. Instead of labeling the boxes by room, I take the extra time to label them by exactly what's inside them. That way, at the new house, I can see a box like the box above and know right away that I don't need to unpack it right away. Instead, I'll look for the boxes that say something like "every day dinner plates" since I know we'll need them daily.

These are just a few of the random things I've learned after my last several moves. What are your favorite packing/moving tips? Now, I'm off to keep packing. I'll be back during the week with any new packing tips I figure out!