I recently moved house. On which note, apologies for the lllloooonnnnggg silence. Our new house is undergoing various works at the moment, which I will discuss over the coming weeks and months, which has made it tricky for us to fully unpack and settle in. However, when it came to packing up and then working out what was going where when we arrived, a bit of extra effort made life much easier for us and for our removals company (Smartmove Bristol for local readers; we were very happy with them both in terms of price, service and general niceness!).
Firstly, we did a lot of the packing ourselves. With the exception of the kitchen, we found this much easier as we were able to gather things together in a way that made sense to us. From past experience removals companies often try to fill gaps in boxes so that things from multiple rooms end up in one box. And as we went through each room, we culled a huge amount, whether to sell, donate or take to the tip. We printed out multiple copies of the floorplan of our new home, and cut it up per floor level. Every box had one of these stuck on it, overhanging the side so it could be seen even when the box was being carried in someone's arms. We highlighted the floor level in a specific colour for each floor and put an Xacross the room that we wanted it to end up in. So the removals team could see immediately which floor the box was going to and then which room. We also gave each label a number and made a note in a notebook which travelled with us of the main contents of that box. This saved us from opening every box in e.g. the children's bedrooms when they asked for a specific item in the first couple of weeks.
All the pictures and furniture were also labelled in a similar way. We drew the line at packing up the kitchen though (which accounted for almost half our boxes in the end!!) and the removals company sent a couple of people to do this the day before the move. They were extremely impressed with the ease and speed of getting everything where it needed to be and claimed that they were going to incorporate this system into their best practice — we'll see!
Don't forget to set aside all the things you will need immediately to transport in your car: tea making equipment, basic cleaning kit, an overnight bag for each family member (even if you're not moving far this is really handy, especially where children are involved), toolkit, important documents etc. Take my word for it, the only safe place for the bottle opener / corkscrew is in your handbag!