The things you own are important to you. I know this because if your stuff wasn’t important, why would you bother moving it or putting it in storage? You wouldn’t. You’d just throw it away and get new stuff. So obviously, you want it to be protected while it’s in transit or in storage.
Professional movers who know what they’re doing claim amongst themselves that a properly (professionally) packed box can be dropped from as high as 8 feet without damaging any of the contents inside. Personally, I have never had, and probably never will have, the intestinal fortitude to try dropping a box full of glassware from about as high as I can lift it over my head, but I have seen it done and I can tell you one of the secrets to this audacious claim: properly using packing paper.
Pack like a Pro
To pack like a pro there are 3 main components that are inarguably essential:
proper moving boxes,
good quality packing tape, and
plain packing paper.
Markers, labels, packing peanuts, bubble wrap, paper pads, and moving blankets all have their place, and I wouldn’t do a big move without them, but they don’t make my top 3.
Packing paper is a great void fill, it protects fragile objects, and it’s a fantastic shock absorber at the bottom and top of a box.
Helpful tips for Fragile Items
Probably the most breakable box you’ll pack is the one that’ll hold all your dishes: glassware, stemware, tableware, etc. It also happens to be pretty expensive to replace that stuff, so it’s worth taking the extra steps to properly protect it. Enter packing paper.
1. Start with a good box, preferably a china barrel – dishes are heavy and a china barrel is designed to hold the extra weight. Tape the bottom as described here. Now comes the packing paper. You want to loosely crumple enough paper to make for a 2-3-inch pad at the bottom of the box. It’s important that there’s some air in the crumples because that’s your shock absorber.
2. Start with your heavier items. Pack your dinnerware in groups of 4 with a piece of paper in between each. For example:
Put the first dinner plate in the center of the stack of packing paper (it’s easiest if you have it laid out on the counter with plenty of space to work with, and you have the box set up so it’s at the right height for you to easily reach inside) and fold one corner of the paper over the plate.
The second plate goes on top, then fold another corner of the paper over it, and so on.
Once you have four plates, wrap the stack with the rest of the paper, making sure you get some nice firm corners.
When you put them in the box, put them in vertically, not flat. Do the same with the rest of your dinnerware. Once you get a full layer of dishes on top of your layer of crunched paper, use more crumpled packing paper to fill any voids.
You want to make it so the dishes can’t move around, but still make sure the crumpled paper is loose enough that there’s sir in it. Put another layer of crumpled packing paper on top to level it out and provide some cushion between layers of dishes. Lighter and more breakable dishes go on top.
Pack mugs and stemware in pairs, separated by paper.
So, for a mug, the first on goes on its side on the paper kind of facing the corner, fold the paper over it and put down the second one so that the bulk of the mug is up against the handle of the other one. The handle is the most vulnerable place so use the other mug to protect is.
Then roll them up in the paper and use a second piece over top for added protection. The principle is the same for stemware. To protect the stem use the other glass. With stemware, try to get a little more air in the package to give you a bit more of a shock absorber.
Again, use crumpled paper to fill any voids so that the layer of dishes is secure and won’t shift around in the box and crash into each other. Then fill the top of the box with more crumpled paper so that the paper just comes past the top of the box. When you fold down the top flaps there should be some spring to it, but no dips and no bumps. If the flaps dip you don’t have enough packing paper. If the flaps bow up, you have too much.
Plenty of paper will keep your items protected
The layer of packing paper on the bottom can be used for anything else you want to protect, too. For example, books should always be packed upright on a layer of crumpled packing paper to protect them from getting damaged on the edges.
Once you start seeing packing paper as more than just a cover for picture frames you’ll realize how easy it is to go through a 10 lbs box of it in just a few rooms.
And the nice thing about paper is that it’s really easy to recycle, which isn’t necessarily the case for bubble wrap or packing peanuts.