How to Reward Friends Who Help You Move


I miss college.

I never thought I'd say that — I'm not a "the best years of my life have gone by" kind of gal. But here's what I miss: owning the right size car and the right amount of stuff so that, whenever it came time to move out of the dorm, I could do it myself. I could carry everything, I could fit everything in my car, and I could get out of town without having to ask anyone for assistance.

These days, things are a bit different. I own furniture, AKA "stuff I can't carry by myself." It's not enough to warrant hiring movers, but it's enough that I need to get a couple of friends to come help me out whenever I'm in transit. (See also: 5 Unexpected Moving Expenses)

Now, every time people I know need help moving, they offer the exact same reward: pizza and beer. I'm not knocking pizza and beer — I love them dearly. They're both easy to serve and immensely satisfying after a day of hauling stuff around.

But recently, I've been planning a move, and I've been thinking how it would be neat to offer something other than the same ol' post-move meal as a way of saying thanks. Thus, here are some ideas for how to treat your hard-working friends. Some of them take a little pre-planning (which can be difficult during a move, I know), but they can be worth it. (See also: 25 Ways to Say Thanks)

Get Classy with Wine, Cheese, and Bread

Offer a more upscale version of beer and pizza: get a bottle or two of wine, a loaf of good bread, a couple of cheeses, and maybe a veggie plate to round out the mix. It's still classy even if you're drinking the wine out of red Solo cups. Really.

Cook Up Homemade Treats

When I move, I often I find myself with awkward amounts of leftover food: one serving's worth of noodles, a couple of cups of flour, or a cup of frozen pureed pumpkin. If it's not enough to give away or keep and you have a few extra minutes of time, consider making a last-minute batch of cookies or scones, or even something savory, like lasagna, to share.

Zone Out Together

Whenever I'm done moving, I just want to sit in front of the TV and turn my brain off. Keep track of where your TV set and DVD player end up in the move, and sit on the floor together eating snacks while watching sitcoms.

Go Out to Dinner

Being surrounded by your unpacked mess can feel stressful. Take a breather, and bring everyone out for dinner (even if it's just to get beer and pizza).

Buy Their Gas

If your friends are using their own cars to help you move, buy them a tank of gas, or give them a gift certificate for an oil change.

Get Them a Massage

If your friends really go overtime on the heavy lifting, get them a gift certificate for a massage. Groupon and similar sites are great places to search for massage deals, or look for a massage school in your area for discounted rub-downs.

Return the Favor

What do you get for friends who refuse everything you try to offer them? Help them out when they need it, whether it's moving, babysitting, or picking them up from the airport.

Do you have any creative ways to thank friends for helping you move? Share them in the comments.

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Guest's picture

My sister-in-law is dating a VERY big guy (football lineman) who offered to help us move. On top of pizza and beer we also gave him a gift certificate to a store he likes to buy meat at as they sell chops and steaks and such in bulk and he loves eating meat. So we got him a $50 gift certificate to help him stay well fed. He is a college kid so every cent helps.

Guest's picture
Debbie M

The most important way to thank people is to have everything organized so the move can go quickly. Have everything packed by the time they get there. Take things out of the drawers and pack them in boxes instead of making them carry the furniture full. Have each box labeled with the name of the room it should go in. Have a rental truck and someone to organize it's loading.

Also, make sure there are plenty of cold drinks at each place, and make sure there's toilet paper at the new place.

Beyond that, I'm yet another pizza-serving person. I've also seen breakfast tacos at the start of a move. And people have also taken me out to eat afterwards. One time when I moved to a place with a pool, there was also swimming.

Meg Favreau's picture

Great point about organization, Debbie. I've heard some horror stories about people showing up to help family members move and discovering that absolutely nothing was packed yet!

Guest's picture

We treated our friends that helped us move to an evening of entertainment with us and Carlos Santana.

Guest's picture

Returning the favor is huge. If your helpers are not going to move in the near future then help them with projects around the house. I am sure they would appreciate it.

Guest's picture

We're 7 months out from a cross-country move and this posts gives me some great new ideas for saying thanks to everyone who will help us pack and carry. Thanks!

Meg Favreau's picture

I'm glad you got some new ideas from the piece, Wayward, and good luck with your move!

Guest's picture

We have moved many times and the technique that works best for us is the Caravan. We gather as many friends and cars and trucks as we can and everybody takes one load. Unloading to the garage is fine with us but most friends like to take the boxes and things to their final destination. We only use friends for those things that are precious to us. Our friends are not beasts of burden but conservators of our heirlooms.

After one trip, we treat for dinner which is the pizza and beer. Never at our house(s) which are a mess but at some nice pizza place.

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