So, before jumping into new house stuff, I thought I’d tell you a little about the process of moving and packing up to leave because it's an equally important and necessary step. At this point Xan and I have done 2 cross-country moves and a total of 10 moves in the time we’ve been together. Which totally blows my mind – I can’t believe its been that many! I have plenty of moving tips that I could share (and am more than happy to), but today I’m going to tell you about the thing that made our recent move the most successful of all. And that’s the packing party that we threw.
Move Like a Pro: Throw a Packing Party
The reason for the party was two-fold. First, we wanted a chance to see all of our friends, but between the unexpected nature of the move and the quick timeframe we just weren’t going to have time to throw a farewell party. And secondly, for many of the reasons I just mentioned we seriously needed help getting packed up in time. And honestly, it turned out to be so much fun!
Below I’m outlining my tips on throwing a successful packing party. But first I feel like I should tell you about my personal packing philosophy and what works for us.
When to Start Packing for Your Move
The sweet spot between living in chaos for too long and not having enough time to get things done (for us) is to start the “heavy lifting” 2 weeks before moving day. Having tried it a lot of different ways I’ve found that I like living normally up until the very last minute and then work a little harder and faster to get to stuff done in the last couple weeks. It feels like it minimizes the chaos, because even if you start packing a month or two ahead of time you can't pack the bulk of your house until it's time to go. You use all that stuff everyday. And then you're just living in boxes for SO MUCH longer. I can't stress enough how much better it is to wait to start packing as long as you can. I know it might feel wrong, but it's a much better system.
How to Throw an Awesome Packing Party!
3 Weeks Before Your Move
1. Get organized. One thing we started doing about 3 weeks before we moved was going through all of our stuff and getting rid of anything we didn’t love enough to move it across the country. Because we had moved a year and half ago and because our apartment was so small this part didn’t take too long. But, you may want to start further out if you’ve been in your space for a while. Speaking from experience, I know how easily stuff can accumulate! This process doesn’t really destroy your house and it makes things go SO much faster when it comes time to actually start packing. Basically, it’s just really crucial to make sure anything you don't want to pack is gone by the day of the party.
2. Plan ahead! Also at that three-week mark we made two lists. One of tasks that anyone could do and the other was of tasks that only we could do (like going through our clothes to figure out what was being shipped and what we were taking on the plane or packing up our files that had a lot of personal information in them). At two weeks out we tried to get as much of the “us” stuff done as possible. This was key because it allowed us to be with everyone during the party and not off in the closet going through our clothes unable to talk to anyone. And, like step one this doesn’t destroy your house too much.
3. Send an invite and plan your refreshments. We wanted to make sure this was fun because our friends were doing us a huge favor by spending their Saturday helping us pack. We found a place with delicious delivery pizza, grabbed a bunch of craft beers, and made brownies the day before because we had a random box of mix in the pantry we wanted to use up. Sending out an invite (in our case we did an e-vite) was helpful so people knew it really was serious party and so we knew how much of everything to get. Bonus: this is a good time to use up any gift cards you might have. We had several for a grocery store that isn't in NC so we used those to get all the beer.
2 Weeks Before Your Move
4. Pick-up your packing supplies. Having the right supplies and enough of them is key to keeping the momentum going on party day. We got: a variety of moving boxes, tape and tape dispensers, sharpies, bubble wrap, foam squares, blank news print, and tension wrap. Tip: tension wrap is AMAZING. You can use it for so many things and it became the star of the party. Everyone loved using it. So much so that we still joke about tension wrapping things. We got a ton of everything to ensure we’d have enough and then returned what we didn’t use.
5. Get ready for the day-of. For starters, I got a huge piece of paper and wrote a list of all the tasks we needed done and then hung it on the wall with some washi tape nearby for crossing off (I used washi tape instead of a marker so it wouldn’t bleed through to the wall). This was helpful so everyone could keep track of what was being done plus it’s super satisfying to cross something off when you’re done with it. The other thing that naturally happened was that several “stations” were created. Small groups of people started working in different areas of the apartment and this was good because it spread everyone out. So, I’d make sure you have some free spaces around your house for people to set-up.
6. Day-of! Make sure all your supplies are ready and organized. And then be ready to be the floater(s). We actually didn’t do much packing because everyone was so fast and ready to work that we were too busy making new boxes, taping up and labeling full ones, giving people new tasks, answering questions, and keeping up the atmosphere to do any packing. We were going for light and fun so we played Motown Pandora, constantly offered to get people more pizza and beer, and profusely thanked them for helping us. Tip: you can NEVER do that too much when people are doing a favor for you.
7. Last tip: don’t make them do hard work. Nobody likes moving so don’t invite them over and make them do the heavy lifting. We made sure to make it clear on the invitation that nobody would have to do that and we stuck to it. Having people help wrap and box everything is HUGELY helpful. We hired movers for the actual moving which was the second time we've done that and it's some of the best money I've ever spent. I can't tell you how worth it it was to have someone to do that for us.
We threw our party one week before our move which was a Saturday and honestly everyone worked so hard that we were almost completely packed by the time they left. On Sunday we spent a couple hours getting every last little thing packed up and then we were done. That left us the rest of the week to clean and organize the boxes for our movers.
There you have it – now you can throw a packing party of your own. And I highly recommend that you do. It is one of my favorite memories of living in San Francisco and created an extra special bond between us and the people who were there.