9 Tips for Packing Fragile Items

Jon Fesmire |

Packing for a move is a lot of work, from getting the right size boxes to making sure each box is labeled correctly.

Perhaps the toughest part of packing for a move is dealing with fragile items. When you look at your champagne glasses, china plates, or vases, you may wonder how you’ll get them from your current home to your next without breaking them.

Fortunately, we have some helpful tips.

Don’t Overstuff Boxes

It can be tempting to maximize box space by stuffing as much as possible into each box, but this is a big mistake. Overpacked boxes don’t stack well, and items inside can get damaged. Always leave some space and fill it with crumpled packing paper.

Take Your Time

When packing delicate items, don’t rush. If you do, you’re more likely to drop that porcelain figurine or wine glass and break it on the spot. Take a few slow, deep breaths before you get started to make sure you feel calm, and carefully get to work.

Get New Boxes

You should buy more moving boxes than you think you need. Don’t use old cardboard boxes, as they can deteriorate over time and become flimsy. New boxes will hold up better.

Put Special Items in Their Own Boxes

Do you have an antique clock, a crystal vase, or something similar? If it’s especially fragile and valuable, you should pack it in its own box. Most such items can be wrapped in bubble wrap. Then, gently tape the bubble wrap in place. Add a layer of crumpled packing paper to the bottom of the box for the item, then place the item itself inside. Fill the extra space with additional crumpled packing paper. Finally, tape the box up. Label it with the item name as well as the word fragile, in capital letters, on each side and the top so no one can miss the message.

Stuff Hollow Items with Packing Paper

Glasses, vases, glass lamp shades, and other delicate hollow items need special care, too.

Each of these should be filled with crumpled packing paper, one piece to several depending on the size. Then each should be wrapped in one or two layers of packing paper as well.

Get glass packing kits for your glasses, which consist of boxes with a separate chamber for each glass. Wrap vases especially well. You may be able to pack two or so in a small or medium box. Just make sure there’s plenty of crumpled packing paper between and around each vase. Each lamp shade, whether glass or not, belongs in its own well-padded box.

Pack Plates Vertically

So there’s no confusion, staking items vertically means creating a vertical, bottom-to-top stack. This advice works for not only plates, but other fragile, flat items, such as glass picture frames.

Get a box with a height and width close to the size of the plates you plan to pack. Add a layer of crumpled packing paper to the bottom. Then, wrap each plate in packing paper and stack them. As you do, put a layer or two of extra crumpled packing paper between each. Then, fill all extra space with packing paper, tape up the box, and label it.

Pack Small Fragile Items in Ornament Boxes

Christmas tree ornaments and similar items are often quite fragile. Ornament boxes, which come with many small partitions for individual items, are great for packing and transporting them. Wrap each delicate, small item in some packing paper so it doesn’t jiggle in transit, and put it in one of the compartments.

Mark Each Box “FRAGILE”

We mentioned this earlier, but we want to make this clear. Every box with fragile items needs to be marked “FRAGILE” on the four sides and top. Whether you and your family are loading and unloading the moving truck, or whether you’ve hired movers, anyone who handles those boxes needs to know to be extra careful.

Stack Fragile Boxes Higher

When you pack the moving truck, or put your belongings in storage, stack boxes with fragile items higher. You can also put them under tables or on top of appliances. Don’t make the piles too high, or you may try to pull down a box of fragile items only to drop it. In a moving truck, make sure those boxes are also back far enough so that if they slide around a bit, they won’t fall.

Whatever you do, be careful. It is possible to move your fragile items without breaking them, as long as you follow these tips and handle them with care.