Russian doll packing: the best packing trick of them all

The Russian doll packing method.
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Packing for a move is hardly a child’s play – it is the most laborious, time-consuming, and error-prone task you need to complete when planning a relocation. Yet, it can still be fun – especially if you involve the whole family in the process or have some close friends come over to help you sort out and pack your belongings. The arduous packing endeavor can easily turn into a convivial event, a chance to spend some good time with your loved ones, even a game.

All you need to do is keep your sense of humor and resort to your creativity. You and your helpmates may even come up with some clever packing tricks that will make the process much easier and more efficient. Such as nesting items inside one another until your belongings are all packed in twice as less space as you thought they would take. And it will be as easy and enjoyable as a child’s game – just like playing with nesting dolls, actually.

You may be surprised to learn that Russian doll packing is, in fact, a popular packing trick – one of a few ingenious packing hacks for moving that can save you more time, space, and effort than you ever believed possible (and add an ounce of fun to your packing endeavor). But what exactly is the matryoshka doll method and how can it help you with your packing?

What are nesting dolls?

Matryoshka dolls, also known as Russian nesting dolls, are sets of dolls of decreasing size that fit inside each other.

Traditionally, the biggest matryoshka doll – the “mother doll” – is an artistically painted wooden figure which separates in the middle (top from bottom) to reveal a similar smaller figure inside that has another, even smaller figure in it, and so on. The smallest, innermost doll is typically a baby crafted from a single piece of wood.

The first Russian nesting dolls set, designed by Sergey Malyutin and carved by Vasily Zvyozdochkin in 1890, consisted of eight wooden dolls, painted as peasant girls in traditional dresses. Present-day sets may consist of as many as five to twelve dolls (the largest set of matryoshka dolls in the world is a 51-piece set) and may be made of different materials, including plastic, metal, and even paper. The dolls still follow a theme, but it may vary from peasant girls and princesses, to fairy tale characters and animals, and even – famous people. The painting can be extremely elaborate, turning them into valuable pieces of art.

What is the Russian doll principle?

Besides their artistic value and the great joy they have brought to people of different ages all over the globe, Russian nested dolls are also prized for the simple, yet ingenious nesting algorithm they have introduced to the world – the “matryoshka principle”. It refers to the “object-within-similar-object” relationship that appears in the design of many natural and crafted objects (items that form a sequence in which each member is contained in the previous one and/or contains the next).

The Russian doll method is primarily applied to make the most efficient use of space.

How to use the Matryoshka doll method when packing for moving?

Now, what does this all have to do with packing? Simple enough – when packing for a move, you need to make the most out of the available space – so you want everything to fit together like Russian dolls. This can be easily achieved in the “matryoshka way” – by combining similar items and nesting them inside one another. Even as little as simply putting things inside of other things when packing will make a big difference – you’ll be actually packing your belongings, not empty air.

So, next time you’re packing for moving, try to stack as many of your household items inside one another as possible – like nesting dolls – and you’ll save not only space, but also time and money.

What are the advantages of nesting packing?

All packing tricks for moving aim to make the relocation process easier, faster, and more affordable. The nesting doll method is one of the simplest, yet most efficient hacks of them all.

When your items are stacked inside each other, they take less space. This means that you’re going to need fewer boxes to pack your belongings and will, therefore, spend less money on packing supplies. Even more importantly, however – there will be fewer boxes to carry and load on the moving truck, so:

  • both loading and unloading will be done faster – if you’re paying your movers by the hour, this will save you a few dollars;
  • the boxes will take less space in the moving truck leaving room for other items – if you’re moving by yourself, you’ll be able to rent a smaller vehicle and save on rental costs.

SEE ALSO: How to cut down on moving costs

Needless to say, the entire move will be completed in a faster and much more efficient manner.

What packing lessons can you learn from the nesting dolls?

All the packing wisdom provided by the Russian nesting dolls can be summarized in three fundamental packing tips:

Lesson 1. Stack similar items inside one another whenever possible:

  • Pots and pans, bowls and cups, plates and all kinds of Tupperware can be easily stacked inside each other. Just make sure you provide a protective layer – packing paper or disposable paper plates – between every two fragile items (such as chinaware and glassware);
  • Hats of similar shapes fit perfectly into one another;
  • Thin summer clothes can be rolled inside larger, thicker garments;
  • Pillow cases can hold pajamas, underwear, stuffed animals, diapers, etc.;
  • Socks can be stuffed in shoes;
  • Smaller purses can go into larger ones which fit into smaller bags that can be placed in larger bags;
  • Buckets and bins should be consolidated to as few as possible;
  • Crates, hampers, and different kinds of baskets can be put inside one another;
  • Chairs can be stacked together to take several times less space as compared to when put side by side.

What you need to remember is that the nesting principle should be applied to anything that can fit inside of something else, not just plates and bowls.

Lesson 2. Use the topmost item in a stack as a holding container:

  • when you’ve stacked your buckets, fill the topmost one with toiletries, cleaning products, pet items, or whatever you find appropriate;
  • when packing pots and bowls, put some packs of spices, candles, tea-strainers, salt-shakers, can openers, or any other small kitchen items inside the top container;
  • when consolidating crates and baskets, don’t forget that all kinds of small and medium-sized objects – toys, batteries, cosmetic products, accessories, and knickknacks – can fit in the topmost one.

The list can go on and on – every pot, jar, carton, or chest, can hold some pieces of appropriate sizes. Just make sure you use some plastic wrap to “close” the container and prevent the smaller items from falling out during the transportation.

Lesson 3. Fill any hollow spaces:

  • inside your household items – keep the contents of drawers inside them (contained with the help of stretch wrap), transport baby items inside of your little one’s washing tub, etc.;
  • inside the moving boxes – fill any empty spaces in the boxes with clothes and towels – not only to save space, but also to provide some extra cushioning;
  • inside the moving truck – put pillows, large stuffed toys, small boxes, or other appropriate items between the legs of tables and chairs, put lightweight items on top of coaches, etc.

Everything will fit together like nesting dolls and you will save as much space as possible. What is more important, however, is that your efficient packing will guarantee a smooth and cost-effective relocation process. Happy moving!


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