Through my various moves, I’ve learned an important lesson: if you put aside the most important items ahead of time, the rest doesn’t matter as much. You won’t have to run around the house looking for where you packed the cutlery if you’ve put aside one set for each family member in one very important box: the Open First Box.
This is different from the Moving Essentials Box which I wrote about here. In that box should be your essential moving supplies like scissors, tape, markers, and cleaning supplies. This box should also be one of the first brought into the house, but differs from an Open First Box because you will need those items throughout your entire move, and you’ll only need the Open First Box items once you’ve moved in to your new house.
I don’t include things for individual family members because I prefer each member have their own overnight bag packed with clothes, pajamas, toothbrushes, etc. During the final few days in the old house (after everything’s been pretty much packed away) you will still need access to your basic every day items. Pack suitcases like you’re going on a vacation, and plan to live out of them for about a week (depending on if you have a long distance move).
To break it down, here is everything you should have on hand during your move:
If you have these 3 different segments packed and easily accessible, you will have the most essential items you need in the event you are separated from your belongings for an extended period of time.
When you’re moving, pack an Open First Box full of the essential items you will need after arriving at the new house. Here are 10 things that should go in your Open First Box when moving:
If you can’t function without guzzling down that first cup of coffee, don’t risk not having it at your fingertips on that first morning in the new house. Pack the coffee maker, some coffee and filters (or k-cups), 2 mugs and some dry creamer (if desired). Throw in some sugar packs so you don’t risk a mess.
I don’t know about you, but for me a whole day stuck inside cleaning and packing calls for music. It would be easy to tuck this away with your other electronics, but keep this handy for move in day. In the Open First Box it goes.
And by one set, I mean one set per person. So one plate, fork, knife, spoon, and bowl per person. Young children might have plastic utensils and dishes which are easy to pack and transport. Remember bottles and other important eating items for babies and toddlers.
Head to the dollar store and buy smaller sized, unopened condiments. This means they won’t spill all over your other items, and they are vacuum sealed and won’t need to be refrigerated until opened.
Moving to a new house holds a lot of emotions. You may be excited and sad, and you may already be feeling some homesickness. Bringing something to make your house smell familiar can be a great thing to have on day one. For me, it doesn’t feel like home if a candle isn’t burning.
If you’re moving with pets, have their food and water bows and a small supply of food ready in the Open First Box. Just enough to get you through the first day will be helpful. You can unpack the rest later or head to the store for more.
Each kid has a few items they just need in their day to day life. For my kids it’s their security blankets and noise makers. If we have those two things then we can sleep just about anywhere. My kids would never let me pack their blankets, but I would pack their noise makers in the Open First Box, so I know where it is and have easy access to it on the first night.
You are not going to want to cook right after a move. It will be very difficult to find the things you need to cook, not to mention having to make a dreaded trip to the grocery store in a new place with a car full of boxes. Just don’t do it. Buy gift cards for your favorite restaurants or set aside some cash for dinner for the first few nights. Having this on hand and already set aside makes it easier to indulge when you really need it.
Things like boxed mac and cheese, granola bars, trail mix, cereal, or other pantry favorites. In those hectic first few days, you’ll be glad you brought a few yummy items to enjoy before your first grocery trip.
You’ll likely want to carry a phone charger with you as your travel, but throw spare chargers in the open first box. Inevitably, someone will misplace or break their charger along the way, and you’ll know exactly where to find another on that first night in the new place.