What to do when your friends help you move

So, I recently helped a friend move, and I’ve had a lot of experience over the past several years both helping people move, and being helped move, so I thought I’d write a couple tips about best practices for the person being moved.

First off, if the friend I helped move is reading this, don’t take it as an indictment against you at all. Even though you didn’t follow all the suggestions set forth here, it certainly wasn’t unpleasant. It was actually a fairly easy move. Now, let’s get on to it.

Firstly, the single most important thing is to be absolutely completely ready for them. Let me clarify what that means. When your friends arrive, make sure every single thing is packed up and ready to go. And make sure it’s all packed up well. Go get some boxes. Don’t throw your random knick-knacks into a laundry hamper; put them in a box or suitcase. Hanging clothes should be put into a garment box or hanging garment bag. Don’t expect them to do any packing at all. They’re there to help you carry stuff; that’s all. And if possible, gather all your stuff in an easy-to-get-to location.

Secondly, for goodness sakes, feed them. You’re not paying them, so you could at least give them some food. Food afterwards is good, but food beforehand is better. But not all food is ideal. Don’t feed them something heavy or greasy beforehand. That’ll make them groggy and make it harder for them (which will, consequently make it take longer). Before the move, something light that provides quick but lasting energy is good. Pastries and doughnuts is a great idea, because they provide both simple and complex carbohydrates. The simple will give immediate energy, while the complex will break down later and help them keep working. If you have a lot of stuff and the move will take a while, consider providing food both before and after. The food after can be something heavier (like pizza). And especially if you live in a hot climate, make sure there’s plenty of water easily available the whole time, in both locations.

Third, make sure you survey the areas through which things will be moved and try to identify problem spots beforehand, and try to work out what will probably be the easiest way around them. It makes things a lot easier if they know they’re going to carry a piano up three narrow flights of stairs (please don’t ever ask anyone to do that).

Finally, don’t give them a hard time at all. If they need to take a five-minute break, just let them, and don’t even jokingly criticize them for doing so. You are not paying them, so don’t expect them to work like they are. Don’t expect them to be professional movers, because they aren’t. If they nick the edge of your furniture, just ignore it. If you can’t afford any damage to come to your stuff, hire movers.