7 Mistakes You’re Probably Making When Storing Your Holiday Decorations

Christmas

istock/Willowpix

It’s all fun and spiked eggnog when it’s time to decorate for Christmas. But after the holiday is over you’ll probably hear crickets instead of clamors to help with the twinkle lights and wreaths.

Yes, the post-Christmas haze is exhausting. And the only thing you may feel like doing is tossing every ornament into a giant bag—and then stuffing it in the nearest closet. Unfortunately, doing this will guarantee you a load of frustration come next year

Take heart: Even home professionals can’t stand the thought of organizing their baubles.

“Honestly, it took a busted pipe in my basement for me to get my act together and store things in a reasonable manner,” admits Karen Gray-Plaisted of Design Solutions KGP, a home staging and decorating company.

Don’t let your holiday finery become a hot mess! Here are seven mistakes to avoid when taking down and storing decorations.

1. Working solo

Like folding king-size sheets, storing holiday decorations with a partner makes things much easier, says Darla DeMorrow, author of “Organize Your Home With Sort and Succeed.”

“Having someone to help with carting the storage boxes up and down can shorten the process,” she says.

And who knows, she adds, you might uncover some things that will make you more efficient next year—like that one of you doesn’t mind schlepping boxes, while the other likes the tedium of packing things in bubble wrap.

2. Not properly protecting your decorations

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Pack up your decorations properly.skhoward/IStock

And speaking of bubble wrap, don’t gloss over this step.

“Not taking the time to protect delicate items is a big mistake when it comes to putting away holiday decor,” says Jamie Novak, author of “Keep This Toss That.”

It’s normal to want to rush through this tedious job so you can be done with it, but moving too quickly will just result in breakage.

3. Forgetting to cull (and donate) your decorations

If you didn’t put it up this year, what are the chances you’ll do it next year?

“Anything that’s in disrepair or out of favor I toss,” Gray-Plaisted says.

After all, it’s a good excuse to shop the after-Christmas sales—where you’re sure to find new items that you’ll actually want to display next year. And on that note, make sure to save room in storage for anything you might buy.

“You will get more, so don’t pack your bins all the way to the top,” Novak says.

Before you toss your purged decorations in the trash, though, consider donating them. Shelters, public libraries, health care centers, and other nonprofits might welcome the chance to give your used decorations a second life.

4. Tossing decorations in willy-nilly

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Don’t throw stuff into storage without a clear plan.Susan Vineyard/iStock

If you have garland in four different boxes, you’ll never keep track of it from year to year. Instead, store like with like.

“Put items to decorate the outside together, and place soft goods in their own bin, such as tablecloths, stockings, runners, and napkins,” Gray-Plaisted suggests.

And be sure to pack up the pieces, parts, and written directions for each item together.

“You think you’ll remember how to set up the tree, but you won’t,” Novak cautions.

5. Labeling your decorations vaguely

On a related note, once you’ve packed things together, get out that magic marker. Sure, you’ll write “lights” on the box of lights, but try to be more specific when it comes to labeling your containers. Are the lights for the mantel, mailbox, Christmas tree, or something in the yard?

Novak also recommends labeling boxes as “X out of X” (e.g., “5 out of 7”). If you do this, you won’t miss out on a box or search for one that doesn’t exist.

6. Cheaping out on organizational supplies

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Plastic storage bins filled with decorations for various holidaysChris_Soucy/iStock

Stop yourself before reaching for those brown paper bags!

“Make this the year to invest in sturdy containers for all your ornaments,” Gray-Plaisted urges.

“They may seem pricey, but good ones can last the rest of your life,” DeMorrow adds.

And as long as you’re splurging, opt for red and green containers that are easy to spot in a garage or storage space.

7. Not keeping notes

As you put things away, make notes on what needs replacing or items you need to add your collection (e.g., broken lights, stained cocktail napkins, or a bigger turkey platter for next year). With a detailed list, you can strategically hit those half-price sales in January and fill in the holes for next year.

Posted by Jennifer Geddes on realtor.com

 

14 Items That Will Make Moving Day Go Smoothly

JoKMedia/iStock

For first-time home buyers and seasoned homeowners alike, moving day is a major drag. Sure, it’s exciting to start the next chapter of your life in a brand-new place, but the process of moving is often a grueling, exhausting ordeal. Aside from having to sort through literally everything you own, you also have to deal with the physical side of moving: packing boxes, lifting furniture, and deep-cleaning your house.

So to make moving day as pain-free as possible, you’ll want to have specific household items at the ready.

“Move-in day can be pretty nerve-wracking; there’s a lot to do,” says Paul Travaglini, a real estate agent at Century 21 Seaport in Winthrop, MA. “My advice is to try to take it slow, and to make sure you have some necessities handy.”

We spoke with experts and rounded out the ultimate checklist of things you’ll appreciate having on moving day. These items will help you get settled sooner and ultimately make a smooth transition into your new home.

1. Bottled water and food

You are likely be starving after hours of cleaning and moving, and won’t want to make a trip to the supermarket. Have some water bottles on hand, and get easy-to-make food, such as pasta and sauce, for the first couple of days, while you settle into your new home.

2. Boxcutter

3. Cleaning supplies

You’ll want to give your house a good scrubbing before you move in. “Don’t forget paper towels and other cleaning supplies in case the house is dusty,” says Travaglini. Bring your supplies from your old home, or head to the store and buy soap, floor cleaner, sponges, a mop, bucket, window cleaners, a vacuum, bathroom cleaner, and a toilet scrubber.

4. Closet hangers

You’ve made sure your new home is spotless. Now make sure your clothes aren’t wrinkled. (You’ll thank us for this one.)

5. Cooler with ice

This is a good idea if the previous owner didn’t leave a fridge, and yours hasn’t arrived yet.

6. Furniture sliders

Even if you have movers, you may want furniture sliders, the little things that go under the legs of chairs and couches and allow you to slide them easily without scratching your floor. You can pick them up at any hardware store.

7. New front-door lock

That ceremonious moment when you’re handed the keys to your new home is exciting. But you can’t be sure who else has a pair. Plan ahead and buy a new front-door lock, and set an appointment with a locksmith to change the locks or rekey the doors. You can have them come by on move-in day or shortly after.

8. Lamps

Don’t spend your first night in your new house in the dark! Pack up all the lamps and light fixtures you’re planning to keep from your previous home and have them readily available. “Some rooms don’t have overhead lighting, so lamps will be very helpful,” says Rita Patriarca, a real estate agent at Re/Max Encore in Wilmington, MA.

9. Lightbulbs and batteries

These are other items you can usually buy in bulk. Most large retail and hardware stores carry bulbs in various wattage and shapes.

10. Toiletries

Personal hygiene might be the last thing on your mind on move-in day, but make sure you have soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, and anything else you need. Moving day is a sweaty experience, and you’ll need a shower when you’re done. Plus, your new home will attract neighbors and friends. You’ll want to smell and look nice. Right?

11. Trash can and trash bags

If you plan to keep your trash barrel outside of a cabinet and you have a pet, it’s a good idea to get one with a secure top. You don’t want Fido or Tabby getting into the trash.

12. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

You never want to go a day living in a house without property smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Check the house on move-in day to make sure you have enough detectors. Test each one to make sure the batteries are working.

13. Sticky notes

Mark down where you want things. It’s a good idea to label where you want your furniture, TV, dining-room table, etc. You can do this by writing on a sticky note and leaving it where you want the items located. This will help the movers know where to put everything.

14. Your favorite beverage

Whether you prefer champagne, Dr. Pepper, or Maker’s Mark, get yourself your favorite beverage to celebrate your new home. Toast yourself, your significant other, your kids, your friends and family, and everyone else who played a part in the move. You’ve earned it.

 

Posted by Les Masterson on realtor.com

Moving 101 — Be Ready For Your Big Move

Moving can be tricky, so make sure you’re well-prepared before packing up your things.

Recently found a new home? Check out moving tips & tricks offered by professionals.

Whether you recently purchased a home or signed a lease, you’ve already made it past the hard part — finding a new home. But packing up and settling into your new place isn’t going to be a walk in the park if you’re unprepared.

While moving into a new home is exciting, it’s important to be ready for what can be a perfect storm of last-minute packing, your buddy’s truck breaking down, or hidden costs from a shady moving company.

It’s easy to put off planning your big move, so to help you make this process simple and stress-free, we reached out to the professionals for the best moving tips.

Why is hiring a moving company so important?

“People move an average of once every seven years, whereas a moving company does it every day. Hiring a professional moving company means giving the physical and mental heavy lifting to practiced hands. Professional moving companies know how to properly wrap furniture, how to handle tight stairwells and door frames, and how to properly pack a truck to save the most space and keep the furniture safe during transportation.

“Moving is one of the most stressful things we go through, and hiring a moving company will help ease that stress and it will also save you time, and time is money. Hiring a moving company is also important if you want to minimize effort, maximize efficiency, and move to a new home as seamlessly as possible.

“Renting a truck and recruiting friends is an option for small, local moves but certainly not ideal for long-distance moves, large moves, or family moves. If someone doesn’t have a lot of free time and is unable to move by themselves or with the help of some friends, hiring a moving company is an absolute must.” — Angela Gonzales of Unpakt

What advice do you always give to those starting a move?

“1. Do your research. Take time to do your homework before hiring movers, and don’t be afraid to ask the questions you find most important. What does insurance coverage on your items look like? Are the movers background-checked and drug-tested? Come moving day, you’ll want to ensure you’re protected, and having the right movers can make all the difference.

“2. Book early! To guarantee you have professional movers on the day most convenient to you, we recommend booking two to four weeks in advance.

“3. Find out what your movers cannot move ahead of time. Federal laws ban moving companies from transporting any hazardous materials, including paint, ammunition, and propane, to name a few. This means items that contain gas, such as grills and lawn mowers, are also prohibited and must be moved by the customer. Other items may include food or living things such as plants. By asking ahead of time, you won’t be surprised come moving day.” — Jessy Herman of Two Men and a Truck

What are common mistakes you see people make while moving?

“The number one mistake is not being picky with your mover. That’s right. You have to research the company you are entrusting your belongings to. Check [their] license with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and reputation online as well. Do not sign incomplete paperwork and acquaint yourself with all accessorial charges [you] may incur upon delivery. For example, if movers cannot park near the entrance of your residence and have to carry belongings more than 75 feet, they will charge for that additionally.” — Manuela Irwin of The Moving Blog

What are the major differences between moving families and individuals?

“Moving families and individuals certainly changes the volume of belongings, so it’s even more important to work with a reputable mover that can ensure the safety of all items. Plus, adding children and pets into the mix means parents have even greater responsibility throughout the moving process. The last thing they’ll want to worry about is protecting their fragile belongings or treasured antiques.” — Jack Griffin, CEO and Vice Chairman of the Board at Atlas World Group Inc.

What are some stress-free ways to unpack and settle into a new home?

“1. Start packing as soon as you have your moving date to avoid the mad rush of last-minute packing. This will mitigate the risk of items being damaged or improperly sorted and labeled.

“2. Be prepared with an assortment of boxes, packing supplies, and packing tools. This will ensure everything has a proper place, and you won’t have to waste time and energy thinking about where it will go and how it will be moved.

“3. Make sure you’ve got some old boxes and bags to pack up those items you are purging so they can be swiftly lifted out and off to the secondhand store or recycling depot, or collected by a junk disposal service.

“4. Begin with your storage areas. Anything you haven’t used for a year and cannot guarantee you will need again, and items that have no sentimental value, should be the first to go.

“5. Move on to the rooms you will use infrequently prior to moving day. Box up the items to be transported to your new home, while focusing on “less is more” by setting aside those things you won’t need again.

“6. The last items you pack up prior to your move will be your everyday kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom belongings. Try to consider what may not suit your new home, or furnishings and household things you won’t have room for. These can be part of your purge.” — Anjee Gill of You Move Me

 

Posted by Sam Brannan on Trulia

7 Ways to Reduce Stress During a Move

 Moving can be challenging — but it doesn’t have to be a stress fest.

Whether you’ve decided to accept a new job offer in another city, found the perfect apartment on Trulia, or finally closed on the home of your dreams, a fresh start is always exciting. Packing all your belongings into boxes and lugging it all to a new home? Not so much.

We get it. Moving can be crazy and stressful — but there are ways to survive the process without aging yourself prematurely.

Here are seven ways to manage your stress before, during, and after you’ve boxed up your life.

Block off a chunk of time to focus exclusively on packing. Request a day off from work, find a baby sitter or family member to watch your children, or clear your schedule for a weekend

1. Purge

Clutter creates stress. Minimize the junk clogging your closets and you’ll automatically breathe a sigh of relief. Clear the clutter from your home by organizing things you no longer need into three piles: Sell, Donate, and Toss.

Put big-ticket or valuable items in the “sell” pile. Then snap some photos and list them on eBay, Craigslist, or Facebook. (Or go old school if the weather’s nice and hold a massive yard sale.)

Score a tax deduction by donating items to Goodwill or a local thrift store. Throw away or recycle any items that have little or no use left in them.

Here’s the most fun part: Eat through the contents of your refrigerator and pantry. Spend the weeks prior to your move creating oddball meals based on whatever happens to be in your cupboards. And don’t forget to drink all your booze!

2. Clear your calendar

Block off a chunk of time to focus exclusively on packing. Request a day off from work, find a baby sitter or family member to watch your children, or clear your schedule for a weekend. You’ll get more done by packing continuously for several hours than you will by packing in short bursts of time.

If possible, bribe some of your friends to help. Promise to buy them dinner and drinks if they’ll donate a few hours of their time to help you pack and move.

3. Accumulate boxes

Start accumulating a stack of newspapers and boxes several weeks prior to your move. Ask friends if they have leftover boxes from previous moves or visit local grocery stores and retail outlets, walk back to where the employees unpack the inventory, and ask if you can walk off with a stack of boxes. Costco and Trader Joe’s both keep a steady supply of boxes in-store.

If you’re willing to splurge, you can buy boxes from shipping and packing stores or your local home improvement store. The benefit to buying boxes is that they’ll all be standard sizes, making them easier to stack and load.

4. Plan

Don’t start packing without a strategy. One of the most efficient ways to pack your belongings is to methodically move from room to room. Clearly label each box based on where in your home it was packed. This way, when you unload boxes in your new house, you’ll know where each box should go.

5. Protect your valuables

The last thing you need is a nagging concern that you can’t find your wedding ring and passport. Those worries will stress you out more than almost any other aspect of moving!

Pack one suitcase as if you’re going on vacation and include the items you’ll need to immediately access, such as clean underwear, socks, and a toothbrush. Add valuables and the most important documents so that you’ll know they haven’t gone missing.

6. Give ample time and deadlines

Nothing is more stressful than knowing that you can’t start moving into your new home until 8 a.m., but you need to be out of your apartment at noon that same day.

If you can, allow for your time in each place to overlap. This may mean paying two rents or two mortgages for up to a month, but it will allow you the benefit of time — and that will work wonders on your stress levels.

Also, create minideadlines for yourself. Promise yourself that you’ll pack up one room per day, or that you’ll unpack for two hours per night after you move into your new home.

7. Delegate

Finally, the best way to reduce stress is by outsourcing and delegating. Use online resources like TaskRabbit and Craigslist to search for people who can help you pack and move. Before they leave, ask them to help assemble furniture and move big boxes and furniture where you want it.

As the saying goes, many hands make light work. And when you’re moving, you need as many hands as you can get.

Posted by Paula Pant on Trulia

Time-Saving Packing Hacks for Your Next Move

It’s hard to get excited about your new home when you’re slogging through packing up your old place. These tips will speed you through it.

Time Saving Hacks for Your Next Move

As moving day approaches, the idea of packing all your household belongings can be daunting. It’s one thing when you a have a few hours to pack a suitcase for a trip, but moving from one home to another takes packing to a whole new level.

When you’re ready to get started, some careful thought and a creative approach can help save you both time and money.

Begin with basics

Planning the packing of your home will ensure that you waste no time in the process, and achieve maximum results with minimum resources and effort. Make a schedule based on the time left until your move, so you don’t end up packing everything on moving day.

This is the time to prove yourself as a strategic thinker. Divide your household items into groups based on the room they’re located in, material they’re made of and frequency of use.

Start with the items you use rarely, and don’t mix items from different rooms, or items of different types, such as liquids with clothes. And when it comes to packing very high-priced items, don’t try to save money on your move by cutting out professional movers. It may be worth it to have some help.

Packing is a natural time to discard or donate items you no longer need — but be sure to keep a balance between emotion and logic as you make your choices. This principle may be hard to follow, but do your best to adhere to it. During your household purge, get rid of anything you won’t use anymore.

As you pack, create an open-first box with vital items you’ll need in hand as soon as you arrive at your new home, such as a first-aid kit, basic toiletries, towels, a change of clothes, a tool kit and a flashlight.

Think outside the (moving) box

Don’t spend time and money on buying packing supplies until you take stock of what you already have. Your home is full of free packing materials, such as clothing, bed linens, pillows, laundry bins and suitcases. There are many unconventional ways to use these items:

  • Enlist linens, towels and socks to protect glassware inside boxes.
  • Wrap dishes in T-shirts, or insert Styrofoam plates in between yours.
  • Pack books inside suitcases to make them easier to carry.
  • Wrap shoes in shower caps and stack them in a medium-size box.

It’s in the bag

The secret weapons for painless packing are probably right under your kitchen sink. Garbage bags, plastic wrap and sandwich bags have a multitude of uses.

  • Use cling wrap to keep necklaces and bracelets from tangling. Lay a few pieces of jewelry on a length of plastic wrap and fold the wrap over. Press around your items to keep them separate.
  • Don’t pull clothes off the hangers — instead, make a hole in the bottom of a garbage bag, and put the hooks of several hanging pieces through the hole. Pull the bag down over the clothes, and cinch the drawstring at the bottom tight. Voilà! Unpacking will take only minutes.
  • Cover shampoos and other liquids with plastic wrap before putting the top on.
  • Leave light items in dresser or desk drawers, and stretch plastic wrap firmly over the drawer.
  • Store all screws and bolts in securely closed sandwich bags.
  • Put pillows and blankets in garbage bags and seal them. When you load the truck, use them as padding between furniture or breakable items.

Electronic engineering

Make wiring diagrams for hooking up your entertainment system and computer, so you can connect them easily in your new place. Labeling cords and taking pictures of the setup will help, too.

Organize cords and cables by wrapping each one and stuffing it inside an empty toilet paper roll.

If possible, pack all electronic devices in their original box with enough cushion, and no empty spaces within the box.

Easy reading

Don’t underestimate the importance of labeling. You probably don’t have an army of helpers standing by to help you unpack and organize all your goods, so labels are essential to finding items fast.

Be sure that all boxes containing breakable items are clearly marked as fragile.

Packing can be a tedious and time-consuming task, but if you approach it cleverly, the results may surprise you.

By Manuella Irwin of moving.tips on Zillow Blog.

10 Things You’ll Regret Packing After Your Next Move

Look at an upcoming move as your chance to declutter and start fresh, with these tips put together by Jill Russell on Trulia Blog.

Store only the keepsakes that really mean something to you and recycle the rest.

Store only the keepsakes that really mean something to you and recycle the rest.

Popular wisdom has it that it’s the journey, not the destination, that matters. That aphorism is true in most scenarios — but not when it comes to moving. Whether you’ve inked a lease on a new apartment or closed on your first home, it’s natural to want to skip straight to the part where you kick back and settle in.

But first you have to get yourself (and your stuff) there. Packing up everything you own is stressful, and the task of neatly securing all your belongings can be a sobering affair. You may not realize you’ve racked up 18 novelty coffee mugs until you’re trying to shove them into a single cardboard box.

According to professional organizer Ashley Murphy, cofounder of NEAT Method, a move is your chance to declutter and start fresh. Because clients often call on Murphy’s team after a move, she’s well aware of how much the “just pack it and deal with it later” mentality can hinder a chic new space.

“In a home, the goal is to have only what you truly need and use,” explains Murphy. “If your ice-cream maker hasn’t moved from the shelf in two years, why lug it to your new place?”

Point taken. To help you purge while you pack, we asked Murphy to share the things you shouldn’t even think about bringing to your new home.

1. Expired items

Go through everything that can possibly expire — spices, condiments, medications, beauty products — and toss anything past its use-by date. Murphy puts it this way: “If you only used a centimeter off the top of a jar of paprika one time, in one recipe, in 1990, do you really need it?”

2. Well-loved garments

The NEAT Method team coined this term to refer to threadbare and stained clothes that, while once wardrobe staples, are past the point of wearability. Anything akin to “a white T-shirt with yellowed armpits” should go.

3. One-time-only clothes

This includes bridesmaid dresses and even old Halloween costumes. “Many people cling to costumes, even though they go as something new every year,” says Murphy. If you won’t realistically wear something again, it belongs in the charity pile.

4. Repeat offenders

Do you have 20 black tank tops? Six wine openers? You might not realize it until you line them all up, but this is the time to take stock of duplicates and narrow your supply.

5. Trivial keepsakes

Murphy is often surprised to see how many people won’t part with old greeting cards and wedding invitations. Store only the keepsakes that really mean something to you and recycle the rest.

6. Pens and pencils

“I’ve come across households that had unknowingly accumulated enough writing implements to supply a school of 300 students,” says Murphy. Keep just a few and ditch any others that pop up in random drawers and storage bins as you pack.

7. Unused gadgets

Think about how many times you’ve used your small appliances and gadgets (the aforementioned ice-cream maker, panini press, waffle iron). Once, twice, or never? Say goodbye. If you don’t use it in your current home, you probably never will in your new one, either.

8. CDs

A digital music library lets you keep all the tunes you love but takes up virtually no physical space. Murphy suggests hiring a TaskRabbit to do the legwork of burning discs for you. A few hours and a few bucks later, and the deed is done.

9. Old magazines and books

This one is obvious, but it makes such a difference in lightening your load. Donate anything you’ve already read (along with anything that’s sat unread for ages) to a local library, nursing home, or family shelter.

10. Borrowed goods

Designate a “returns” bin as you pack, and throw in anything (books, clothes, pots, pans) that should go back to friends and family. “In going through clients’ homes, I can’t tell you how often I hear, ‘This belongs to so-and-so,’” says Murphy. “Before you move is the best time to actually make those returns. If you don’t do it now, you’ll forget.”

Published by Jill Russell on Trulia Blog.