Boxes---the single most essential item for any relocation. Whether you are moving old bowling trophies to the attic or relocating your entire home cross country, you without question cannot do to without a box, or even several. There are so many different sizes, and specific-use boxes, it can be really paralyzing when you're standing there staring at hills of cardboard that are somehow going to transform themselves into functional packing vessels.
The first thing to recognize is that while boxes are not created precisely the same, they are somewhat common in that you can use just about any box for just about any item. The catch is in being smart about what to pack in which box--and forget what the box is titled, go ahead and put your golf clubs in the wardrobe box, if it feels right. The other thing intelligent folks (that includes you) do is not to overload boxes so they weigh too much. You're going to be moving a lot of them, and seven pounds feels like fifty after a while.
Sizes and Weight
Boxes are measured in cubic feet. The smallest moving box is usually 1.5 CF, and is what you will use for heavy things like books or small appliances. Knickknacks are best in these small boxes as you can put a whole collection in one box. You may see heavy-duty boxes, but just because you can pack more stuff into a box does not mean you should, unless you have a heavy-duty back to lift the weightier boxes. These boxes often have grips for easier moving and an normal height person can usually move a couple of these at once.
The next size larger is 3.1 cubic feet. This is what you will use to stow shoes, toys, pots and pans--things that are not that heavy. Some of these boxes also have the built-in grips and are a bit more unwieldy than the smaller box, so don't overload this one or it's going to be difficult to pick-up and move.
Linens, sweaters, towels, and clothes go in the 4.5 CF boxes. They are big and deep, and again, don't overload them because the bulk makes even the lightly packed ones a challenge to move unless you are tall.
The largest standard boxes are 6.1 cubic feet. This is where you pack pillows, lampshades, blankets, and anything that is sizeable but lightweight.
These are meant for moving one specific sort of item, but are useful for lots of other things, as well. While they are a little more costly, are well worth the cost in ease of packing options and protection.
A dish pack is a box with an additional layer of corrugated cardboard. Do not think you can only place dishes in these, they are meant to protect all things fragile. A dish pack is anywhere between the 1.5 and 3.1 CF size, and you can either wrap items individually in plain newsprint or use the newer foam sleeves--slide the plate or glass into the sleeve and set it in the box. Some boxes have inserts for glasses, so they stand up in their spot and do not get bumped by their neighbor. A dish box is perfect for stereo components, lamp bases, or anything delicate that you don't want in the regular boxes.
A wardrobe box is precisely what it sounds like. It is taller than the 6.1 CF box, is about 10 CF, and is a heavy-duty cardboard that's constructed to stand up while in transit. It has a hanger bar that attaches near the top, so you can move your hanging clothes more easily. The standard height for a wardrobe box is about 46 inches, so you can use them to move things like dining room chairs or those golf clubs, too.
A mirror box comes in a variety of sizes, but they are all usually flat, and large. They're what you use for artwork and mirrors, but also flat screen TVs, computer monitors, large platters, or even tennis rackets.
Do not forget the proper packing supplies--lots of paper, tape and bubble wrap--but knowing your boxes is the initial step to a trouble-free move.