When it comes to packing up your belongings, it’s smart to think ahead. Did you pack that precious family portrait so it won’t be damaged? Do you have a home inventory to protect yourself from theft and loss? Make it easier to step through the door of your new home by packing like a pro.

Build a home inventory

The best way to prevent theft and loss during a move is to make an inventory of your possessions. An inventory catalogs all items of value, with a description of the condition and, if desired, a photograph.

Estimate your packing schedule

Allow for one full day to pack each room of the house (except for the basement, garage and kitchen, which often take longer). Make a rough estimate, then add an extra 50 percent to your timeline. It always takes longer to pack than you predict.

Come up with a strategy

Start packing the parts of your home you don’t use every day, such as the basement and attic. If you find an item you’re unsure about keeping, start a pile of things to review at a later date. Scale down by tossing things out or donating unused items to charity.

Create a packing center in your home to cut back on the number of times you will have to search for the tape and other supplies. Designate a central location to keep boxes, tape, markers, stickers and bubble wrap.

Pack the perfect box

  • Choose a box
    Consider what you’re packing and try to control box weight. If you’re packing books, use a small box. If you’re working on sweaters, a larger box can be used.
  • Prepare the box
    Tape the bottom then line it with crumpled tissue paper or newspaper. Stack and fill in the box with your stuff, then top it with more tissue.
  • Wrap fragile items
    You’ll want to use cardboard dividers, tissue paper or bubble wrap for fragile and breakable objects. To prevent small items from being thrown out accidentally, wrap them in brightly coloured tissue paper or a labelled plastic bag.
  • Seal and label
    Tape the top and mark it with a descriptive label. You can print the name of the room the box belongs to or give more description to help with the unpacking process.

Protecting lamps

Disassemble the lamp and pack items separately. Start by unplugging and removing the light bulb and lampshade. Pack the base separately from the shade to protect both items and be sure to fill all cracks and crannies with plenty of padding.

Transporting electronic items

Even though electronics are heavy, they also have delicate parts that are easily jarred. Plus, you want to prevent rear-input jacks from getting clogged with debris. If you don’t have the original box for your electronic item, start with a thick packing pad and wrap each component. Then put it in a box with extra-strong walls, such as a TV or computer box. Consider using plastic bins to protect electronics from moisture.

Prepping furniture for the move

Some furniture can be dismantled, but other pieces must travel as a whole. To protect them, tape all corners and legs of tables and chairs with discarded moving boxes and secure them with plastic wrap. If the wood has a finish that can be easily scratched, using plastic wrap may cause damage. In these cases, use moving pads or clean cardboard instead.

Put together an “Open-Me-First” box

Pack important essentials that you’ll need upon arriving at your new home together in one box to avoid having to root through multiple boxes to find what you need. Some items to include are cleaning supplies, your furniture maps, first aid items, bathroom supplies like soap and toilet paper and a telephone.