How To Pack Fragile Items For Moving

How To Pack Fragile Items For Moving

One of the most significant stressors of any move is the process of packing all of the items in your home. Not only can it seem like an overwhelming endeavor to fit every item that you own into a massive stack of small cubes, but there is also the concern of damaging your fragile items.

By taking the proper steps to pack fragile items safely, you can eliminate this concern.

There are various shapes, sizes, and material types for items that may be easily broken or damaged. We will explore the proper procedure for safely packing several common fragile items that you may own.

Table of Contents


Every home has dishes in it, and safely packing them is vital to any move. In addition, dishes themselves come in various shapes and sizes, which can add to the difficulty of the packing process. A dinner plate must be packaged differently than a wine glass, for example.

Plates, Bowls, and Cups

A Plate, Bowl and Cup

You can pack your standard glass dishes in the same boxes, but you must do this properly. The first step is to choose a cardboard box with thick walls to prevent crushing. You will also want to ensure you’ve got plenty of packing paper for wrapping and padding the dishes.

Now that you have your supplies, the first step is to build a nicely cushioned foundation. Tear off some nice-sized pieces of your packing paper, crumple them up, and toss them in the bottom of the box. You want to have a good layer of crumpled paper about 3-4 inches thick in the bottom of your box, as the weight of the dishes will compress this layer.

Now that you have your foundation layer, use plenty of packing paper to wrap each of your dishes individually, being sure to cover the entire dish.

Once you have wrapped your dishes, you can place them in the box, starting with the heaviest. You can stack plates with an extra layer of paper between them, but other dishes should be in a single layer with an extra thick layer of crumpled paper between the layers.

For any hollow dishes, another important tip is to fill them with as much packing paper as you can safely fit in them. Doing this will help prevent breakage by filling in the space and adding additional structure to the inside. You should fill any cups, mugs, or bowls with paper before wrapping.

Once you have correctly wrapped, padded, and boxed your dishes, you want to fill the top of the box with yet another thick layer of crumpled paper.

The critical part here is to make sure this layer overflows the box by a couple of inches. When you close the box’s flaps, the paper will compress down and allow the top of the box to be nice and firm.


Stemware is likely to be the most fragile type of dish you own, and as such, it is essential to take extra care while packing. With stemware, there are two possible ways of packing. The preferred method is to buy a glass pack kit, sold at many places where you can purchase packing materials.

These special glass pack kits include a sturdy box and inserted partitions to give each glass its own little home. Packing these boxes is as simple as filling the glasses with packing paper and placing them into the small cubes inside the box. Doing this is the safest and easiest way to pack fragile wine glasses, and you can even include tall drinking glasses as well.

Wine Glass Dividers
Dividers are a must have in my opinion when it comes to packing glassware and nowhere is this more true than with wine glasses.

However, if you find yourself packing some stemware and do not have one of these specialty boxes lying around, there is another way to pack your wine glasses safely.

First, you’ll want to choose a box that is approximately four inches taller than the tallest glass that it will contain. Then, much like when you packed your other dishes, create a thick foundation layer of crumpled paper.

When you compress this layer down, you want it to be just thick enough that the wrapped glasses will still have a couple of inches of free space between them and the top of the box.

Next, you’ll want to take care to fill these as much as possible with paper, without causing too much stress on the fragile glass. After filling the glass with packing paper, wrap the glass in some more packing paper by laying it on its side and rolling it up in the paper. Make sure you get at least two to three layers of paper wrapped around each glass.

Once the glasses are wrapped, you’ll take each one and place them in the nicely padded box. It is crucial to make sure you are standing them stem-side-up in the box. The lip of the glasses should be on the bottom. Finally, fill the rest of the box around the glasses with paper, then a nice thick overflowing layer of paper on the top.

When you pack your boxes into the moving vehicle, this box should be on the top of a stack.

After you’ve sealed this box, it’s important to note on the box that it holds fragile wine glasses, as well as drawing an “up” arrow to remind yourself which side of the box is the top. Professional movers will typically write “Top Load” on boxes like this as a reminder to always place these boxes on the top of the stacks.

Mirrors and Large Pictures

Other fragile items you may have in your home include mirrors as well as large framed pictures. These should be packed the same way, in special flat boxes specially designed for long, thin, and fragile items. These flat boxes can be picked up at just about any store selling moving supplies, including your local Lowes or Home Depot.

In addition to the flat box, it is essential to use thick packing paper on these items. A roll of brown Kraft paper works perfectly.

Moving a Large Mirror
Packing a large mirror doesn’t have to be intimidating if you follow the process of properly packing them for your move.

The procedure for packing these items is fairly simple, and in many ways, it is similar to packing dishes. You always want to start by ensuring that the bottom of the box has a nice thick layer of packing paper to provide cushion.

Then, use the craft paper to wrap around the mirror or picture, at least 2-3 times around and, if necessary, tape the loose ends of the paper to make it easier to slide into the box.

Once you have placed your mirror or photo into the flat box, it is important to provide extra padding by using more of the brown Kraft paper. Make sure any space around the item is filled in with paper, paying particular attention to the front and back of your mirror or picture. You want the outside of the box to feel firm when sealed up, with little to no flex in the sides when you press on it.

Lamp Shades

One thing you may not even consider when you’re thinking about how to pack fragile items is the shades of your lamps. Whether these are glass, paper, or fabric shades, they must be removed from the lamp and packed separately to prevent damage.

Once removed, the procedure for packing them is very similar to what was described above for packing wine glasses.

The box used should be just a couple of inches taller than the lampshade, and the shade should be the only item packed in this box. As usual, start by layering the bottom of the box with a few inches of crumpled paper. Again, like the wine glasses, you want to fill in the space inside the shade to add some structural integrity to the inside.

Once filled in, you can place the shade inside the box on the padded foundational layer of paper. Because it is the only item in the box, you do not have to worry too much about wrapping the shade itself before boxing it, but instead, simply fill in all of the space in the box with paper.

As is the standard procedure for other items, finish by adding another thick overflowing layer of paper to the top of the box before closing and taping.

Like the wine glass boxes, professional movers typically like to write “Top Load” on the lampshade boxes. These generally are very lightweight, so it is important to make sure nothing is placed on top of them.

Final Thoughts

Packing can be one of the most stressful parts of any move, but if you follow these tips for packing your fragile items, you can rest assured that your glassware and valuables will remain intact throughout your move. The common theme among packing the various items discussed is to use plenty of padding and the correct size box.

You can, of course, substitute bubble wrap or other forms of padding instead of paper, but I prefer paper as it is compressible and easy to mold to the shape and size you need.

Good Luck with your move!


I've been a college coach for going on 20 years now and that career has led Jen and I on quite the journey. We've lived in 7 different states and have moved a dozen different times. We've learned A LOT over the course of all those moves and we want to pass on our knowledge to help others going through the moving process.

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