Getting started may seem a bit overwhelming.  The first thing to keep in mind is preparation is the key to everything.  It’s usually the hardest part of any job, but it always pays off in the end if you do it right.  Here are some of our favorite tagging and packaging supplies and where to find them.

Index Cards:  Buy in bulk during back to school, they are dirt cheap.

Hangers:  Use any hangers you can find.  Walmart has the cheapest hangers if you are buying.  You can use them on your items, or to “replace” the store hangers that are hanging in your closet. Many dry cleaners give wire hangers away for free, just ask.  Ask your family and friends for extra hangers.  When you are buying hanging items, always ask to keep the hangers.  Check Craigslist and freecycle, you may find someone who needs to get rid of some.

Tape:  For easily damaged items such as books, puzzles, furniture, home decor, use blue painters tape–it removes easily.

Zip-Ties:  They are my best friend.  They can attach shoes together, toys with multiple pieces, and bags of bedding.  Home Depot or Lowes has the largest local selection.

Magic Erasers:  Clean your toys, exer-saucers, shoes and more with them.  Dollar Tree has a product that works just as good as the name brand and is a lot cheaper.  You can also find it by a generic name at HomeDepot and Lowe’s.

Batteries:  All electronic items must have batteries and work!  Did you know that Dollar Tree carries batteries?  Don’t use the expensive ones from home.

Packing Tape:  DON’T buy the cheap stuff.  It isn’t worth the hassle.  3m-scotch makes small handheld packing tape dispensers that are disposable.  They are red and sold at Walmart and Sam’s.  I won’t use anything else.

Saran-Wrap:  Ever wondered how to package puzzles?  Saran-wrap the front, and tape the ends on the back side along with the index card.

Regular Ziploc Bags:  If you are using a generic brand, we recommend using the freezer bags.  They are a little stronger and sturdier than the regular storage bags.

Giant Ziploc Bags:  I wish I had invented these.  They are great for so many things: bedding, sheets, large groups of toys, toys with multiple parts and pieces, and even Home Decor.  Dollar Tree sells a box of 3/$1.

Safety Pins:  DO NOT buy the cheap ones.  Our volunteers will thank you and your fingers will thank you.  Use large, sturdy pins.  You can get them almost anywhere–even online.   The cheap ones are hard to use, put holes in fabric, pop open easily and are more trouble than they are worth.  Spending a few extra dollars will pay for itself in no time.