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How to Pack an Essentials Box for Moving to a New House

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 11% of Americans move in any given year. Your first night in a new house, you will find yourself surrounded by unpacked boxes. Locating what you need for just the first day or two might prove difficult. Rather than having to open multiple boxes and dig through all the content in search of just a few items, you can pack a single “essentials box.” This first night box also comes in handy if your movers get delayed and don’t deliver your belongings on the first night. There are seven categories of items you’ll want to include:

1. Kitchen Supplies

Your essentials box should not include all your china and dinnerware, but it should contain enough to feed a single meal to your family. If you have four family members, for instance, you’ll want to pack:

  • Four glasses
  • Four forks
  • Four knives
  • Four spoons
  • Four plates
  • Four bowls
  • One pot
  • One skillet
  • A multi-purpose cutting knife
  • Spatula
  • Serving spoon

In addition to dinnerware and flatware, you’ll need a few other everyday supplies for your kitchen:

  • Kitchen scissors
  • Snacks
  • Beverages
  • A few food items for an easy dinner and breakfast
  • Feeding bowls and pet food if you have an animal
  • Garbage bags

If you can’t start the day without your morning cup of joe, also include a coffee pot, coffee mugs, and coffee grounds.

2. Cleaning Supplies

Before you unpack and put away everything, you may want to clean surfaces and cupboards. You’ll also need to wash your dishes after eating. Include in your open-first box:

  • Clorox wipes for cleaning up counters
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • A couple of sponges, preferably with a scrubbing surface on one side
  • A washcloth
  • A dustpan and small handheld broom
  • All-purpose cleaner

3. Emergency Supplies

An emergency kit is important to deal with small mishaps that may occur while your family is settling it. Pack your essentials box with:

  • Band-Aids
  • Gauze
  • Antibiotic Ointment
  • Tweezers
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Medical tape
  • Matches
  • A flashlight
  • A small tool kit

4. Daily Medicines

Be sure to include any medicines that are taken daily by any of your family members, such as:

  • Vitamins
  • Allergy medications
  • Asthma medications and inhalers
  • Birth control
  • Prescription medications

5. Bathroom Supplies

After a long move, what’s one of the first places you’ll need to head? Quite possibly the bathroom. Make sure your essentials box includes:

  • Toilet paper
  • Bath towels
  • Hand towels
  • Washcloths
  • Toiletries such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, and soap

Unless your new house has bathrooms with shower doors, you’ll also want to pack a shower curtain and rings so that you’ll be able to shower in at least one bathroom.

6. Important Papers

Since you are moving the “first-night” box yourself, and not entrusting it to your movers, it’s an excellent place to put your important papers:

  • Titles to your vehicles
  • Mortgage deed
  • Passports
  • Life insurance policies
  • Birth certificates and social security cards
  • Health records
  • Financial information

7. Entertainment

You might need some entertainment to get your through the first few days before you unpack everything. Consider including:

  • A couple of books for each family member to read
  • Personal electronics such as iPads and eReaders
  • Chargers

Last year, 5.78 million homes were sold in the U.S., as reported by Statista.com, so there’s a lot of residential moving happening. Moving long distance isn’t an easy experience, but the transition is less hectic if you pack an essentials box. Each individual family member should also carry a personal backpack that includes night clothes, a change of clothes for the next morning, and any cell phones.


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