Boxes---the single most important item for any move. Whether you are moving old bowling trophies to the basement or relocating your entire house cross country, you absolutely cannot do to without a box, or even a hundred. There are lots of varying sizes, and specific-use boxes, it can be very overpowering when you are standing there looking at mountains of cardboard that are somehow going to convert themselves into functional packing devices.
The first thing to recognize is that while boxes are not created precisely the same, they are pretty democratic in that you can use just about any box for just about anything. The catch is in being on your toes about what to pack in which box--and forget what the box is named, go ahead and put your golf clubs in the wardrobe box, if it feels right. The other thing intelligent folks (that means you) do is not to overpack boxes so they weigh a lot. You are going to be moving a lot of them, and seven pounds feels like fifty after a while.
Sizes and Weight
Boxes are classified in cubic feet. The smallest moving box is normally 1.5 CF, and is what you'll use for bulky stuff like books or small appliances. Knickknacks are best in these small boxes as you can put an entire collection in one box. You may see heavy-duty boxes, but just because you can pack more stuff into a box doesn't 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 average height person can usually move two of these in unison.
The next size larger is 3.1 cubic feet. This is where you will 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 is 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 biggest standard boxes are 6.1 cubic feet. This is where you pack pillows, lampshades, blankets, and anything that's large but lightweight.
These are designed for moving one certain sort of thing, but are convenient for lots of other things, too. While they are a bit more costly, are well worth the cost in ease of packing options and security.
A dish pack is a box with a double layer of corrugated cardboard. Do not think you can solely 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 put it in the box. Some boxes have inserts for glasses, so they stand up in their spot and do not get bumped by others in the box. 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's 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 clothes on hangers more easily. The normal 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, also.
A mirror box comes in a variety of sizes, but they are all usually flat, and large. They are what you use for artwork and mirrors, but also flat screen TVs, computer monitors, large platters, or even tennis rackets.
Don't forget the proper packing supplies--lots of paper, tape and bubble wrap--but knowing your boxes is the first step to a successful move.