8 Tips for Packing Gifts When Traveling | From Overwhelmed to Organized: 8 Tips for Packing Gifts When Traveling

Friday, December 20, 2013

8 Tips for Packing Gifts When Traveling

Do you bring gifts with you to other people's homes over the holidays?  Maybe it's a hostess gift.  Or a few presents for grandparents or nieces and nephews.  Or, you may bring your own family's gifts to a family member's home to open there.

On Wednesday I shared 5 Tips for Simpler Gift Wrapping, but now how do you pack those wrapped gifts so they aren't damaged or the wrapping isn't torn?  Here are some tips to help you out!

First, let me say, I've never traveled by air with gifts, so these tips are geared towards car travel.  If you are flying, I've heard some people pack the gifts unwrapped and then wrap when they arrive at their destination {this is also good in case your suitcases are inspected at the airport - you don't want to have to re-wrap gifts!}.

We live close enough to both our families that we travel by car to celebrate Christmas with each family.  We give gifts to nieces and nephews on both sides of our families.  There are also some gifts to our siblings and parents.  We wrap all our gifts at home ahead of time and then bring them with us on Christmas Eve, or Christmas Day or Boxing Day, depending on when our celebrations are with each family.

One of the gift wrapping tips I mentioned in the last post was to group smaller gifts for the same person in a gift bag.  For us, this makes it easier to travel with our gifts.  When we only had a few people we gave to, we just packed those gift bags in the car and carried them in the house when we arrived.  As our families grew, that meant several trips to and from the car... who wants to do that when it's cold and snowy?  I'd rather be sipping hot chocolate and enjoying time with family.

So, we started using bins to carry our gifts.  I use bins that had decorations in them so the bins are put to good use while the house is decked out for Christmas! 

Here's the inside of one of our bins, filled with gifts for my family, ready to go to my parents' house for Christmas Day.  I follow pretty much the same procedure for my husband's family. 

Everything fits in the bin except for one gift bag.  Every time I pack a bin with wrapped gifts I do it differently, depending on the size, shape, and quantity of the gifts.  It's like Tetris with gifts!  Always loved that game :)  If you're really lucky you can fit the lid on afterward, but that rarely happens for me because I use gift bags and put so many gifts vertically to maximize space.

Even though my bins are different each time, there are principles I follow that make it easier and following those principles can help you too.

Here's how I packed this bin:

I started with the 3 large gift bags with presents inside.  I actually could fit the 4th one in, but then I wouldn't have been able to fit all the rest of the gifts so I decided it was easier to carry one bag separately.

After putting in the large gift bags, I put the flat gifts standing up along the outsides.  This keeps them from falling over.

I only had one tall bag, which I put in the corner to give it lots of support.  I had a few smaller gifts which I carefully stacked in the remaining space.  You can kind of see in the picture, there are a few small gifts on end and then a box resting on top of them.  This way I could maximize the space above the small gifts.

For my family we usually buy small stocking stuffers for each person, so I pack those separately.  That way they don't get mixed up with the other gifts.  Here's my little gift bag with stocking stuffers.  

I added a few more after this picture was taken, but it gives you the idea.

One thing that used to frustrate me about packing gifts was the bows.  I'd have pretty bows on top of packages but they'd get crushed when I packed them in the bins.  Or they'd waste a lot of space if I tried to pack around them.  Or they'd come off and rip the wrapping paper with them.  None of these options were good.  So I got creative.

Now, I don't put the bows on the gifts when I'm wrapping.  I choose the bows I want for each gift, and then I set them aside.  I take them along in a separate bag (with some tape so I'm not bothering the host for theirs) and I add the bows when I get to our destination.  It only takes a minute and it saves so much frustration!

I stored the bows and roll of tape in my stocking stuffers bag so all the small things that need immediate attention are together.

Then I just set the small gift bag on top of one of the larger gift bags in the bin.  Since it doesn't have much weight I don't have to worry about anything getting squished.

 Here are all the gifts for my family's celebration at my parents' house by our front door.

One bin (with the stocking stuffers / bows bag sitting on top) and one gift bag.  Not bad for 9 people!  And I'm confident everything will stay in place because of how I packed it, so I don't have to worry about anything breaking or having to re-wrap anything when we get to my parents' house on Christmas day.

My parents actually took this bin to their house when they were here a few days ago.  So the bin is not taking up space in our home for the next few days, and we have less to bring with us that day.  {We'll still have trays of baked goods, a birthday gift, plus whatever normal "gear" we need for a day trip.}

The great part about using a bin for transporting the gifts you're giving, is that it will be empty after you give out your gifts, so you can use it to carry back the gifts you receive! 

So to summarize, follow these tips for packing gifts when traveling:

  1. Pack gifts in one of your empty Christmas decorations bins
  2. Put large gift bags in first, but allow space for other gifts (keep 1-2 large gifts bags separate if you have too many gifts to fit in the bin)
  3. Pack flat items along the sides (without bows on them)
  4. Place tall gift bags (like bottle bags) in the corners to give them support
  5. Carefully stack small gifts in the remaining space, putting heavier items on the bottom so nothing is squished
  6. Keep stocking stuffers in a separate bag 
  7. Bring bows and tape to attach to gifts when you arrive
  8. Use the same bin to bring home gifts you receive

I hope these tips help you out when you are packing gifts to take with you to your Christmas celebrations!

If you missed any of the Christmas posts I've shared this month, here are links to all of them.

You can also find more Christmas organizing ideas on my Christmas Organizing board on Pinterest. 

Do you travel with gifts at Christmas?  How do you pack your gifts?  Do you have any tips to add? 

Happy organizing!

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