PACKING 101: Tips for packing for free

If you follow C.RA.F.T. on facebook, you might have seen the DIY moving v. hiring movers conversation. We are moving on Saturday, and still haven’t decided what to do… Eeeek! We do know that we will be packing everything up ourselves, and either…
  • CHOICE A. Hire movers to load boxes, drive them to Florida, unload boxes, and set up furniture.
Pros: easiest and less stressful option for us
Cons: break things,  the most expensive
  • CHOICE B. Pay for space on a cargo trailer.
Pros: Someone else deals with the actually hauling of your stuff, less expensive then option A
Cons: It can take up to 10 days to receive your shipment, lost boxes, broken stuff
  • CHOICE C. Rent a big ‘ol truck from Budget, hitch up the car to the back, and DIY it!
Pros: Cheapest option that we can find so far, we will be more careful with our things than someone else would, our stuff will arrive when we do
Cons: Time consuming, stressful, pay for gas, slow moving on the road with so much baggage

What would you do or what have you done in the past? Remember, we only have a 2 bedroom condo worth of furniture. The moving companies tell us we have 20 items or 29 pieces. That includes every single piece of furniture in our house (i.e. 4 kitchen chairs and 4 outdoor chairs= 8 pieces) Moving on (pun intended)… (I’m not usually so clever, I think this packing thing has me a little delirious!)

how to pack


Tip 1: Where to find free boxes
  • (choose your city and click on the free section)
  •– search by location and connect with people who have boxes!
  • My local Uhaul has a free box section in store. Anyone can walk in and take as many as you need… I got a few boxes and lots of packing paper!
  • Specs (or any liquor place)- The local Specs has tons of small to medium boxes in a big pile at the front. These are great because they  come with cardboard dividers for vases, glasses, etc…
how to pack
  • Your job! Everyone has a copy machine, and those paper boxes are super sturdy packing boxes!
  • Free Cycle– You can always find boxes, and it’s fun to search for free stuff in general
Tip #2: Packing Materials for free
  • Use what you’ve got, every thing needs to be packed in some form or fashion.  Dish towels, beach towels, rags, pillows, place mats, blankets, coats, sweaters… use them to wrap all breakables, or divide things from banging into each other.
  • Newspaper
  • Trash bags for pillows, bedding, sheets, and extra towels you didn’t use for packing!
how to pack
Tip #3: How to not waste space and not break things
  • Throw a pillow on the top! Good for padding too :)
how to pack
  •  Throw a pillow on the bottom, for protection from breakables.
how to pack
  • Wrap fragile stuff with towels and tape em up.
how to pack
Maybe y’all can help me with my one big dilemma. I’m not sure what to do with these 27 large frames… Shove them in a box with towels and pillows too? That will take 7 giant boxes! Any ideas?
how to pack

Every time you say “yikes”, do you want to continue with “stripes, fruit stripe gum, the yummy fruity one?” Or is that just me? Now, I’m really wasting time… looking up commercials on you tube from 1991!

Enjoy the rest of your evening, I’m going to surround myself in a sea of brown boxes.—-

UPDATE: We ended up hosting a packing party and DIY-ing the big move!


  1. I hate to say it, but I am pro the most expensive option! We are in the Air Force, and after moving ourselves every three years, 2 moves ago I went on strike and said I wan't going to do it. The Air Force will pay us what they would have paid the movers when we move ourselves, but the hassle isn't worth it to me anymore. We had the movers come, I sat in the front yard with the kids and a Pepsi, while they packed and moved the whole house. We showed up at our destination, and they unloaded everything into the new house – it was like magic and saving money on a move has never seemed important to me ever since. We have another move coming up this summer, (our 3rd since the first mover experience) and I will be sitting in the yard enjoying the weather again as the movers move us!

    Yes a couple of things got broken, but you just have to file a claim and the mover's insurance is supposed to pay you out for the damages. (I hand move my sewing machines, jewelry, and computers just to be safe)

  2. I use the large mirror boxes for my paintings, they are large and flat and you can put a bunch of different framed art inside. Good packing.

  3. We have moved several times using ABF. Basically you pack you own boxes and load the truck and they hall the trailer. They drop off the trailer and you have two days to pack it. They pick it up and drive it to the destination and drop it off and you have two days to unload. It was a little more expensive than renting a truck to drive. It is bigger than a rental and you pay by the foot. We then were able to drive together and didn't have to tow our car.

  4. oh! I love the idea of putting pillows in garbage bags! the military hires movers for us, but I don't like them touching our linens and clothing, so I'm definitely going to "pre-pack" using trash bags this time! thanks for the idea 😀

    when the military movers pack up our larger frames, they too use "mirror boxes." you could replicate it yourself essentially by breaking down a box so it's totally flat, then just tape the open two bottom edges together (if that makes sense) and then after putting in the frames, tape the top two edges together… I'd wrap each frame in a towel or a few times in a sheet, to give a little padding- good luck!! packing is like a huge jigsaw puzzle hehe :)

  5. When we move, I buy a couple big rolls of bubble wrap from Walmart for like $4 a piece, and wrap my framed photos accordian-style with one layer of bubble wrap between each picture, if that makes sense. Then I wrap it all in tape and put the whole kit n caboodle in a plastic tote (or box) and pad it with towels, etc. or more bubble wrap. I moved 60+ framed photos (22 were 10×13, the rest smaller) in 3 18 gallon totes last time. 😀

  6. bubble wrap from wal mart… i'll get some tomorrow! thanks :)

  7. Someone else mentioned ABF… I need to look into that! Thank you!

  8. DIY mirror boxes… hmm… I'm going to look into that :) Thank you!

  9. I have removed dresser drawers, packed breakables between the clothing and loaded them securely behind heavy pieces that will not move. Have even moved my dishes this way always with good results.

  10. For my breakable pictures, I got bubble wrap and packing tape. I cut a piece the same size as the front (or pieces) and taped them securely around the glass. Then wrapped carefully around each picture. I tried to make sure they were as protected as possible without being too bulky. Then find the biggest boxes you can fit them in. Uhaul has these great mirror boxes that you can fit a bunch of the really large pictures in. I stuffed the boxes with packing peanuts, bubble wrap, newspaper, basically whatever I had to keep them from shift around. I have moved about once a year for the past 10 years. It's such a pain trying to condense everything into as few boxes as possible! Hope that helps!

  11. I moved across country, and drove a rental truck myself – alternating driving with a friend who went with me. I used packing materials that I had saved from boxes that were shipped to me, pot holders, towels, sheets, pillowcases and any other fabric items to cushion breakables. I stuffed small things like socks,etc, in every place they would fit. I clearly marked on top and at least 1 side what was in each box and what room it went into. I did have some young friends and family help load the truck.. and other friends unload it on the other end.

  12. You have made so much progress this week! BTW – placed the desks in my classroom Monday 1st period. Bell rang for 2nd period and my boys started to trickle in. They all LOVED the desks. They spent time checking them out can commenting on how "awesome" they were. One of the IA's came in and just marveled at the craftsmanship. Thank you for such a great addition to my classroom!

  13. Thank you :) I am SO happy the boys love the desks! We're picking up the 16 foot truck today!!

  14. Hi Jamie!
    Happy Moving, hope it all went smoothly! What a great post on packing.
    I would simply love it if you to chose to put up this post on my new linky
    Seasonal Celebration Sunday #1
    This is my first and I am hoping that you will chose to include my new linky in your weekly linky list!
    Please feel free to link-up and share as many posts as you would like that you feel will build and encourage our little community of bloggers.
    It isn’t mandatory, but why not tell us about it on the Natural Mothers Network facebook page? Then we can visit you too:-)
    We will feature our favourite project the following week on the blog hop and post it on our facebook wall.
    The linky starts at 9 am PST Midday EST and 5 pm GMT every Sunday and runs through to Thursday night PST, Friday morning GMT.
    Seasonal Celebration Linky #1
    Really hope to see one of your great posts there!

  15. Not sure about moving but I still say "yikes stripes". That was my fav gum as a kid but no one gets it when I say it. Glad im not the only one!

  16. Sitting in the front yard with a coke sounds AWESOME!

  17. I never experienced to do an actual move but I once helped a friend of mine. She actually chose option three because the distance is not too far so I guess, this option should also take into consideration the distance and weather conditions. Anyway, to make things a little less expensive, we got to have free boxes from convenience stores that were so happy to give away their piled boxes. We also used blankets and towels for packing paper and similar DIY techniques. It was indeed successful and if I were to make a move I will exactly do the same.

  18. Start with an extra large box and fill the bottom with wads of paper. Using several sheets of packing paper, wrap the south end of the picture (diaper style) an place the picture in the box. Then with several more sheets wrap the top half. Stack the pictures in the box tight, place several wadded up piece of paper in between.

  19. Go to bike shops and ask for boxes for big items like mirrors, pictures etc. They get bikes in boxes and have to pay to have the boxes removed


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