Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pack That Thang Up...

Packing. I'm doing a lot of it you may have heard, here! And instead of feeling extremely bogged down, like one might expect, I'm actually becoming quite an expert at it. In the past 8 years, I have lived in 2 different houses, 3 different apartments, and a dorm room. So you'd think I would be able to live out of a suitcase (or a few) at this point, but believe me, I have had plenty of chances to accumulate junk...

Image via Pinterest

I am what I like to call an organized hoarder. I have LOTS of things, mostly clothing related items (does any twenty-something really need 15 different coats?) but they are all hung up, grouped by item (i.e. skirts, shirts, dresses), and organized by color. I also collect those $5 DVDs on sale at Target like it's going out of style, but they are all alphabetized and live in white boxes like this one from IKEA. I also archive back-issues of Martha Stewart Living by year in these white boxes. You never do know when you're going to want to revisit a really great craft idea, I always say. But thanks to blogs and Pinterest, perfectly lovely daily inspiration, these mags are getting tucked away in storage until I own a sprawling country home like Martha...

Obviously staying organized is still a challenge when I have so much stuff crammed into a 1-bedroom apartment in Columbus. But it's about to get even crazier now that I'll be trying to fit everything I own into one bedroom in a 4-bedroom Manhattan apartment with minimal closet space. I had to downsize. And it felt good! So good, in fact, that I decided to share my downsizing and packing strategies with all of you. Check them out, after the jump!

Start with 3 groups.
Keepers, Donation/Consignment, and ones you're On-the-Fence about. 
Try on everything from all three groups.
Take a long, hard look at each item. Ask "If I was shopping right now, would I buy this?" If possible (hard, I know) forget how much you paid for the item, and try to really think about whether or not you would want to wear it! I always hang on to things I bought at nicer stores, but if I don't ever wear it anyway, it's just taking up as much space as it did dollars from your bank account.
3  Pay attention to fit. 
No matter how great some of your clothes are, if they are too long, too short, too tight in the shoulders, too loose around the waist, you won't ever really wear them. If getting rid of it would ruin life as you know it, then get it tailored! If you don't want to cough up the extra bucks to spruce up the item, it's proof to me, and yourself, that you don't love it as much as you thought you did...
4  Repeat this process 3 times. 
I know, it sounds time consuming, but I went through everything once, got rid of the obvious choices, and then looked at it all again...and found a few more things to eliminate. And then by the third time, I felt like I was finally being as honest and discerning as I needed to be. I might even go back for a fourth round...
5  Efficient Packing.
When you're finally ready to pack 'em up, I prefer to store folded clothes in plastic tubs, and on-the-hanger items in leaf-lawn garbage bags. If you have 50 garment bags lying around, great for you, but the budget variety works just as well. Cut a hole for the hangers to poke through in the bottom-center of the garbage bag. Hold all your hangers with one hand, and find the hole in the garbage bag with the other. Fit the hangers through, and then fit all the clothes inside. Tie at the bottom, and your clothes stay clean, dry, and ready to hang right back up as soon as you arrive!

Think about when you bought it.
No matter how good you are about taking care of your makeup, it gets a little funky over time... Pay close attention to expiration dates for products that have them. If not? Here is a great rule of thumb for how long your makeup will last once it's been opened:
FOUNDATION About 1 year
CREAM SHADOWS Anywhere from 1 to 1.5 years
MASCARAS/EYELINERS Replace every 3 months (your eyes can easily infect your makeup, or vice versa)
LIPSTICK/LINER Good for about 1 year
APPLICATOR SPONGES You should replace these weekly, or use brushes instead
Clean your Brushes!
I try to do this once a week, which is recommended, anyway. But before packing them, you are most definitely going to want to give your brushes a good cleaning, and let them air dry before storing them. My brush cleaner of choice is by Clinique. Surprise suprise!
3  Pare Down Your Polish.
If clearing out expired items didn't reduce the size of your cosmetics collection much...then start by eliminating old nail polish bottles. These are the easiest to get rid of, because nail trends go in and out, and unlike makeup, it's a lot easier to see when it's time to toss your polish!
4  Stick To The Basics.
Next, take a good hard look at the kind of space you'll have once you move. Chances are, you wear basically the same makeup look every day, and then change it up for special occasions or evenings out. To minimize your makeup, put together a small makeup bag with the items you wear every day. Mine has eyeliner, mascara, an eyeshadow palette with a few great shades for day-time, a foundation and powder, and some subtle blush or bronzer. Once you isolate the classics, you can take a better look at your trendy lip color or statement eyeshadow. Is it still in style? Do you ever really wear it? Will it look great during it's entire shelf-life? If not, then say "so long!"

1  The heavier the items, the smaller the box...
You'd think this would be common sense, but I definitely learned the hard way, when I decided to load all of my books into one large box, and then couldn't lift it 1 millimeter off the ground. Things like books, dishes, ceramic canisters, appliances, etc. should definitely go in smaller boxes, packed with lighter items.
2 Label Everything.
I like to clearly label boxes with the items inside (unless it's something that would risk getting stolen, i.e. Grandmother's Silver, or My Diamond Collection) and then also mark where it's going to. You can mark either the room it will eventually land in, to save yourself from wondering which boxes go where. Or in my case since half of my junk is headed to storage, I have made sure everything is marked "To New York" or "To Storage." And since I'm not going to be able to bring everything I own, at least at first, to my new apartment, I've marked things with priority levels as well. "High Priority" is definitely going and staying with me in NYC. "Medium Priority" are things that will stay with me, if I can find room for them... and "Low Priority" are going to live with my parents for now, until they can ship them to me when I need them, or bring them out during future visits.
3  Save Those Plastic Grocery Bags.
I support recycling, but I also support Re-using! So if I know I have a move coming up, I save all of my plastic grocery bags and use them like free bubble wrap. I put them both inside, and on the outside of glass items, to keep breakables from bumping. pack the rest of the box tightly with the remaining bags, and your breakables should be A.O.K. for a trip in the moving van.
4  Why Not Change Out Pillows and Towels?
I'm sure plenty of people are like me, and hang on to the same ratty pillows and towels until the end of time...but these items are inexpensive and moving to a new place is kind of like the first day of school. It's a fresh start, right down to the simplest items! Why suffer on a lumpy old pillow when you can pick up a new one for under $20. And I am pleased to report that I found probably the softest towels ever made at Target (Room Essentials Fast Dry towels) and they are only $5 a piece. I am headed to New York with a brand new, matching set of towels and kissing those mismatched, fraying ones goodbye!
5  Donate, Donate, Donate. 
I absolutely hate the idea of throwing perfectly good items into the landfill, when one person's trash may be another's treasure. If you want to recoup some expense, you can try things like Craigslist (but go with a friend, just in case...) or Ebay, but I prefer the good old spirit of giving. I fully support giving items to the local St. Vincent de Paul Society, which provides items and support to those in need. This is where the majority of my old clothes go. And even if you have some chipped plates or mugs, old pillows and blankets or old furniture, I'm sure someone out there would be glad to have them. For large furniture, you can even arrange a time for Goodwill to pick it up in one of their trucks!

Well, friends, I hope if you're also moving, these tips have been helpful to you! (That is, if you stuck around to read them all...they are just a smidge long-winded, but I wanted to commit to sharing every aspect of this upcoming move! If you're also moving, good luck. If you're staying put, then enjoy your cozy holiday! And if you're virtually moving, with me via Jenna Sais Quois, then thank you thank you thank you for reading, and I'm sending lots of love your way!