First Night Checklist

The first night in your new home can be rough, especially if you aren’t near amenities, or if you arrive to your new home late at night. Planning ahead will help make your transition as painless as possible, ensuring you and your family have the basic necessities to clean, eat, sleep and start getting settled in!

What is a first night box?

Your first night box contains everything you will want to easily access the first day and night you spend in your new house - remember, you may not be able to find everything you need quickly in the piles of boxes that enter your home. 

What is the most important thing to remember about your first night box?

Your first night box should be loaded last, or it should travel with you. The point of the first night box is to have what you need where you can easily get to it. 

Cleaning and maintenance items 

One of the first things you’ll likely want to do before unpacking is some basic cleaning. Your first night box should include rags, bleach and cleaners (which can’t travel in the moving van), soap, gloves and trash bags. This should be enough to give your new home a decent cleaning.

It’s also a good idea to bring some toolbox standards like a hammer, screwdriver, pliers and a drill to do any immediate household repairs and hang mirrors and pictures. 

Don’t assume that there will be working light fixtures in every room (even if the electricity is on). Come prepared with light bulbs and flashlights. 

Meals and snacks 

You will likely eat out for your first few meals, and it may be a while before you can unpack your dishes, so make sure you have something to eat with. Toss in some paper plates, disposable cups, napkins and cutlery in case you need them in the interim. (If reducing waste is more important to you than avoiding dishwashing, bring reusable camping utensils and dishes instead of disposable). 

Pack portable, high-protein snacks and lots of water. Granola bars, beef jerky, trail mix, bananas and apples are the sort of things you’ll appreciate having on hand.


Basic hygiene necessities 

You should have your toothpaste and toothbrush, soap and shampoo and a brush or comb packed in your personal bags with your clothes. But you’ll need more than that to get comfortable and settle in. 

  • Toilet paper
  • Clean bed sheets (and maybe sleeping bags)
  • Pillows (you may already have these in your car for comfortable travel)
  • Towels (if this list is outgrowing your box, try camping towels)
  • A clean shower curtain (if needed)
  • A complete first aid kit


Customize your first night box based on your needs and circumstances. You may need to include more or less, but in any event, plan to have everything close at hand, in one place. 

For additional tips on making a successful move, see: 

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