Before you’ve completely packed all your possessions, you need to put together an essentials box. This box will contain everything you need for the first night in your new home. Without it, you’ll be tearing open boxes looking for a toothbrush or socks. Make sure that you include enough for all members of your family. You’ll be gathering everything from personal hygiene items to the basic cookware you’ll need to make and eat a meal.

You’ll need to decide what will work best for you and your family. You can pack an essentials box for each room in the house if you choose. Some people refer to pack an essentials box for the kitchen and one for each family member. Whatever method you choose, these boxes should go with you in your car or on the plane to your new location.


When packing a “first night” box, don’t forget to include essentials like cosmetics and toiletries.

Personal hygiene items will include:

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Comb/brush
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Hair bands (optional)
  • Bar soap
  • Shower curtain
  • Makeup
  • Towel for each family member
  • Hand towel
  • Any necessary medications

Personal Items

Each member of the family will need enough personal items for at least 24 hours if not more. You may want to include toys or other entertainment for young children. Personal possessions you’ll want to remember are:

  • Clothes – socks, underclothing, shirt, pants, pajamas
  • Books
  • Electronics and chargers
  • Phone and charger

Kitchen Essentials

Many people forget that they’ll need a few kitchen essentials to be able to eat when they arrive. Each person in the family should have a:

  • Spoon, fork, and knife
  • Plate
  • Bowl
  • Cup

For food preparation and cooking you will need:

  • Saucepan
  • Frying pan
  • Dish towel and dish cloth
  • Dish soap
  • Disinfectant cleaner
  • Paper towels
  • All-purpose cutting knife
  • Cutting board
  • Garbage bags

While there will most likely be a grocery store nearby, you may want to include enough food for a few meals like spaghetti sauce, pasta, and cold cereal. That way if you don’t have a chance to stop at the store, you’ll still have something to feed a hungry family.

You may want to put a couple of your favorite pots and pans in your essentials box so you can whip up a quick meal for a hungry family after move-in.


There are going to be essential items that don’t fit into any of the other categories. You might not need some of them if you aren’t moving too far but others you don’t want to leave home without. Because of the personal nature of some of these items, you may want to keep some of them in your purse or bag.

  • Passport
  • Leases
  • Financial information
  • House keys
  • Medical records
  • Portable tool kit
  • Flashlight with batteries
  • Small emergency medical kit
  • Box cutter to open your other boxes
  • Pet bowl and food

Prepare Early

Start preparing your essentials box early. You don’t want to wait until everything else in your house is packed because you’ll have to reopen boxes. Have your essentials boxes labeled and ready to be filled while you are packing the rest of the house. Keep your checklist handy so you’ll remember what to include.

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