How to Throw a Shred Party

Most parties are about getting together with friends, eating and drinking until you’re waddling around the room, and creating new memories. But what if you’re trying to bring about change? What if you want to move forward and let go of all the things that are anchoring you to the past?

You throw a Shred Party.

Here’s the scoop: a Shred Party involves you, 1 or more friends, and the biggest paper shredder you can afford/borrow/steal (but seriously, don’t try to steal a shredder because they’re crazy heavy). You and your friends then collect all of the photos, old journals, old mix CDs, old legal documents, etc, along with a healthy amount of food and drinks (and background music) and go nuts.

The most difficult hurdle to overcome when you’re trying to make a positive change in your life are all the artifacts of your current self. Each of these objects have or have had some meaning or purpose at some point (there was obviously SOME reason you felt you had to keep it around), but if you are moving on you’ll need the room in your emotional storage space for NEW meaningful items. New photos and mix CDs and letters from friends and family.

Take a second to choke down the ‘Colin’s heartless’ comment you were about the mumble. I’m about to explain why this is worth the trade off.

On one side of the equation, you have these objects that may or may not have real intrinsic value, but mostly have what I call ‘traditional value.’ This means that they are not valuable unto themselves, but you keep them around because from time to time you may look at them, or even just feel comforted knowing that you’ve got them stored away somewhere; in a shoebox in the closet or in a Rubbermaid container in the garage.

What you’re trading for in this case is the ability to move on, to let go of any physical manifestations of the past so that you can take what you’ve learned and apply it. Changing is a very difficult thing to do, especially when you’re surrounded by people, places and things that you’ve been around for a long time (which is why those people who stuck around their hometown after high school are more or less the same as when you last saw them).

Remember, too, that we live in the future! Any photos you want to keep around can be scanned and put on your computer (or on the Internet, where they won’t even clutter your computer’s hard drive).

And even if you don’t have or want to use a computer; all those memories? You’ve still got ‘em. They’re in that computer housed in your skull!

A few weeks ago, my ex and I had a Shred Party and both had a fantastic time. Among other things, I unloaded old photos, client files, sketchbooks and mix CDs (to encourage myself to discover new music, create new illustrations, tak new photos and take on new clients), while she got rid of her old head shots, business documents, Post-It notes and journal entries. We both felt amazing and very light afterward. I would recommend the experience to anyone, especially those who are trying to catalyze change in their lives.

The last point I want to make it this: have FUN. This is supposed to be something interesting, new and hilarious. Invite people you like being around, read from old journals and pass around old photos one last time before they go in the shredder. It can be an intense situation, and there’s really not much point to doing this instead of just shredding your old files by yourself (you probably don’t want to just throw it all away either way, because of identity theft) unless you have a good time doing it.

At the top of this post is a video put together from footage of our Shred Party. Take a look if you have the chance, and if you throw your own Shred Party, record the process and post a link to your video in the comments!

What do you think? Are you open to having a Shred Party? Think it’s pointless/heartless/just not cool? Let us know in the comments below!

62 comments

  1. Freeing! Purging the physical is always a great experience . . . and yes indeed, the picture in my head of you in those shirts will live on!

  2. Freeing! Purging the physical is always a great experience . . . and yes indeed, the picture in my head of you in those shirts will live on!

  3. Actually, I’ve been in a habit for years of doing this every time I move or decide it’s time for a significant lifestyle change… minus the party.

    Besides, the sentimental minimalist treasures memories, not knickknacks.

  4. Actually, I’ve been in a habit for years of doing this every time I move or decide it’s time for a significant lifestyle change… minus the party.

    Besides, the sentimental minimalist treasures memories, not knickknacks.

  5. lol at the Hawaiian Shirt stage – memories.
    I think this is a great idea! It is like the bonfire of the 21st century. Why burn past artifacts of your life when you can shred them with red wine instead. Not to mention the fact you will not smell like smoke afterwards.

  6. lol at the Hawaiian Shirt stage – memories.
    I think this is a great idea! It is like the bonfire of the 21st century. Why burn past artifacts of your life when you can shred them with red wine instead. Not to mention the fact you will not smell like smoke afterwards.

  7. lol at the Hawaiian Shirt stage – memories.
    I think this is a great idea! It is like the bonfire of the 21st century. Why burn past artifacts of your life when you can shred them with red wine instead. Not to mention the fact you will not smell like smoke afterwards.

  8. Your commitment to this never fails to impress me. Following your progress with envy (and best wishes).

  9. Your commitment to this never fails to impress me. Following your progress with envy (and best wishes).

  10. Your commitment to this never fails to impress me. Following your progress with envy (and best wishes).

  11. @Carrie: Oh the Hawaiian shirts. They seemed like such a good idea at the time.

    @Will: Amen to that. Memories will always live on. Knick-knacks just take up space and resources. It’s a shame when the sentimentality is transferred to the object instead of staying with the memory itself.

    @the ex: Hey chick! You’re a star (but we both already knew that)!

    @Sean: We were actually thinking of having a bonfire before we came up with the shredder idea. It’s nice to be able to recycle a lot of the paper and such, and that was worth not being able to have the party on the beach.

    @Stephanie: Isn’t it? I always feel so much better after cleaning out my closets or going through old ‘treasures’ and getting rid of what I don’t need.

    @Jessie: Thanks! I’m all about productivity and lifestyle development, but I don’t like the idea that you can’t improve yourself without a whole lot of suffering. Ideally, having a really good time and self-improvement go hand-in-hand, hence my focusing on parties, games, etc. I’m glad you’re enjoying them!

    @Dave: Thanks Dave! I really appreciate it :)

    @Nate: I highly recommend it! Let me know if you need advice on buying a shredder…not all are created equal, and having a cheapo, one-page-at-a-time kind of shredder could really dampen the atmosphere.

  12. @Carrie: Oh the Hawaiian shirts. They seemed like such a good idea at the time.

    @Will: Amen to that. Memories will always live on. Knick-knacks just take up space and resources. It’s a shame when the sentimentality is transferred to the object instead of staying with the memory itself.

    @the ex: Hey chick! You’re a star (but we both already knew that)!

    @Sean: We were actually thinking of having a bonfire before we came up with the shredder idea. It’s nice to be able to recycle a lot of the paper and such, and that was worth not being able to have the party on the beach.

    @Stephanie: Isn’t it? I always feel so much better after cleaning out my closets or going through old ‘treasures’ and getting rid of what I don’t need.

    @Jessie: Thanks! I’m all about productivity and lifestyle development, but I don’t like the idea that you can’t improve yourself without a whole lot of suffering. Ideally, having a really good time and self-improvement go hand-in-hand, hence my focusing on parties, games, etc. I’m glad you’re enjoying them!

    @Dave: Thanks Dave! I really appreciate it :)

    @Nate: I highly recommend it! Let me know if you need advice on buying a shredder…not all are created equal, and having a cheapo, one-page-at-a-time kind of shredder could really dampen the atmosphere.

  13. @Carrie: Oh the Hawaiian shirts. They seemed like such a good idea at the time.

    @Will: Amen to that. Memories will always live on. Knick-knacks just take up space and resources. It’s a shame when the sentimentality is transferred to the object instead of staying with the memory itself.

    @the ex: Hey chick! You’re a star (but we both already knew that)!

    @Sean: We were actually thinking of having a bonfire before we came up with the shredder idea. It’s nice to be able to recycle a lot of the paper and such, and that was worth not being able to have the party on the beach.

    @Stephanie: Isn’t it? I always feel so much better after cleaning out my closets or going through old ‘treasures’ and getting rid of what I don’t need.

    @Jessie: Thanks! I’m all about productivity and lifestyle development, but I don’t like the idea that you can’t improve yourself without a whole lot of suffering. Ideally, having a really good time and self-improvement go hand-in-hand, hence my focusing on parties, games, etc. I’m glad you’re enjoying them!

    @Dave: Thanks Dave! I really appreciate it :)

    @Nate: I highly recommend it! Let me know if you need advice on buying a shredder…not all are created equal, and having a cheapo, one-page-at-a-time kind of shredder could really dampen the atmosphere.

  14. I’ve had unofficial ones where I just went crazy to get rid of a lot paper crap. More fun than just throwing it away. Interesting idea to have a party around. Why not?

  15. I’ve had unofficial ones where I just went crazy to get rid of a lot paper crap. More fun than just throwing it away. Interesting idea to have a party around. Why not?

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  17. Heartless? Hardly. Ballsy, I’d say. That can mean different things depending on context, so to avoid this being awkward, I mean it to say: admirable and bold, rather than brash and dickish.

    The stuff you need from all of that you carry with you anyway.

  18. Heartless? Hardly. Ballsy, I’d say. That can mean different things depending on context, so to avoid this being awkward, I mean it to say: admirable and bold, rather than brash and dickish.

    The stuff you need from all of that you carry with you anyway.

  19. Heartless? Hardly. Ballsy, I’d say. That can mean different things depending on context, so to avoid this being awkward, I mean it to say: admirable and bold, rather than brash and dickish.

    The stuff you need from all of that you carry with you anyway.

  20. Thank so much for this post! I was researching tips for getting rid of old journals and came across your page. It’s given me the push I needed to go home and shred them! I know it will be therepeutic!

  21. Thank so much for this post! I was researching tips for getting rid of old journals and came across your page. It’s given me the push I needed to go home and shred them! I know it will be therepeutic!

  22. Thank so much for this post! I was researching tips for getting rid of old journals and came across your page. It’s given me the push I needed to go home and shred them! I know it will be therepeutic!

  23. Great idea!

    I’m now planning on having a Shred Party at the end of this school year before I and all my classmates go off to college!

    -Andrew

  24. Great idea!

    I’m now planning on having a Shred Party at the end of this school year before I and all my classmates go off to college!

    -Andrew

  25. Great idea!

    I’m now planning on having a Shred Party at the end of this school year before I and all my classmates go off to college!

    -Andrew

  26. WOW!!! What a GREAT idea! My girlfriend is a bit of a hoarder, and says she’s keeping a lot of stuff to shred later. I’m going to give her a shred party. Her kids and I will finally be free of the paper jungle.

  27. WOW!!! What a GREAT idea! My girlfriend is a bit of a hoarder, and says she’s keeping a lot of stuff to shred later. I’m going to give her a shred party. Her kids and I will finally be free of the paper jungle.

  28. WOW!!! What a GREAT idea! My girlfriend is a bit of a hoarder, and says she’s keeping a lot of stuff to shred later. I’m going to give her a shred party. Her kids and I will finally be free of the paper jungle.

  29. Haha – I did this at my parent’s home over the holidays – I think they were a little appalled at how many ‘precious’ things I was getting rid of. It felt great – and it was great to be out in the country where the blaze was enough to keep me warm in 0 degree weiather for a good 20 minutes! :D (Shredder was not available, plus I don’t think a third grader’s diary quite needed the shredding)

  30. Haha – I did this at my parent’s home over the holidays – I think they were a little appalled at how many ‘precious’ things I was getting rid of. It felt great – and it was great to be out in the country where the blaze was enough to keep me warm in 0 degree weiather for a good 20 minutes! :D (Shredder was not available, plus I don’t think a third grader’s diary quite needed the shredding)

  31. Haha – I did this at my parent’s home over the holidays – I think they were a little appalled at how many ‘precious’ things I was getting rid of. It felt great – and it was great to be out in the country where the blaze was enough to keep me warm in 0 degree weiather for a good 20 minutes! :D (Shredder was not available, plus I don’t think a third grader’s diary quite needed the shredding)

  32. Hey Great! Thanks for the video. Today I just managed to throw away some old newspapers. I’m not to at the point to watch the shoe boxes…

  33. Hey Great! Thanks for the video. Today I just managed to throw away some old newspapers. I’m not to at the point to watch the shoe boxes…

  34. Hey Great! Thanks for the video. Today I just managed to throw away some old newspapers. I’m not to at the point to watch the shoe boxes…

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  36. I understand the idea of cutting down on physical ‘stuff’ but I’m intrigued why you didn’t want to keep personal development history items like sketchbooks and journals. It seems to me that those would be right along side pictures in the “items to hang onto” category…

  37. I understand the idea of cutting down on physical ‘stuff’ but I’m intrigued why you didn’t want to keep personal development history items like sketchbooks and journals. It seems to me that those would be right along side pictures in the “items to hang onto” category…

  38. I understand the idea of cutting down on physical ‘stuff’ but I’m intrigued why you didn’t want to keep personal development history items like sketchbooks and journals. It seems to me that those would be right along side pictures in the “items to hang onto” category…

  39. @Anil: That’s what I say! Any excuse to have a party is a good excuse!

    @Jonny: Thanks brother!

    @Michael: I always aim for ballsy over dickish. Must always be careful what part of the anatomy we resemble based on the decisions we make!

    @Christine: I hope it went well for you!

    @Andrew: That’s bitchin’ Andrew. Let me know how it goes!

    @Charlie: Haha, it’s always interesting dealing with hoarders. It’s usually pretty irrational, but I’ve found that giving people an excuse to start culling the jungle.

    @Beth: That’s awesome, Beth! We were thinking about a bonfire at first, but ended up going for the shredder because of the difficulties involved with legally starting a decent-sized fire in LA :)

    @Jack: It’s a start! Keep the momentum going!

    @Nate: I feel like holding on to things like sketchbooks and journals and such keep me from really evolving…may not be the same for everyone, but if I hold on to stuff from the past, I feel like I subconsciously hold on to that style, those thoughts, etc. Remembering, but not holding on to tangible manifestations of that kind of thing, on the other hand, allow me to move forward quickly, without feeling like I need to cling to the past. I hold on to pictures, and some sketches, but they’re all scanned…mostly it’s practical stuff, though!

  40. @Anil: That’s what I say! Any excuse to have a party is a good excuse!

    @Jonny: Thanks brother!

    @Michael: I always aim for ballsy over dickish. Must always be careful what part of the anatomy we resemble based on the decisions we make!

    @Christine: I hope it went well for you!

    @Andrew: That’s bitchin’ Andrew. Let me know how it goes!

    @Charlie: Haha, it’s always interesting dealing with hoarders. It’s usually pretty irrational, but I’ve found that giving people an excuse to start culling the jungle.

    @Beth: That’s awesome, Beth! We were thinking about a bonfire at first, but ended up going for the shredder because of the difficulties involved with legally starting a decent-sized fire in LA :)

    @Jack: It’s a start! Keep the momentum going!

    @Nate: I feel like holding on to things like sketchbooks and journals and such keep me from really evolving…may not be the same for everyone, but if I hold on to stuff from the past, I feel like I subconsciously hold on to that style, those thoughts, etc. Remembering, but not holding on to tangible manifestations of that kind of thing, on the other hand, allow me to move forward quickly, without feeling like I need to cling to the past. I hold on to pictures, and some sketches, but they’re all scanned…mostly it’s practical stuff, though!

  41. @Anil: That’s what I say! Any excuse to have a party is a good excuse!

    @Jonny: Thanks brother!

    @Michael: I always aim for ballsy over dickish. Must always be careful what part of the anatomy we resemble based on the decisions we make!

    @Christine: I hope it went well for you!

    @Andrew: That’s bitchin’ Andrew. Let me know how it goes!

    @Charlie: Haha, it’s always interesting dealing with hoarders. It’s usually pretty irrational, but I’ve found that giving people an excuse to start culling the jungle.

    @Beth: That’s awesome, Beth! We were thinking about a bonfire at first, but ended up going for the shredder because of the difficulties involved with legally starting a decent-sized fire in LA :)

    @Jack: It’s a start! Keep the momentum going!

    @Nate: I feel like holding on to things like sketchbooks and journals and such keep me from really evolving…may not be the same for everyone, but if I hold on to stuff from the past, I feel like I subconsciously hold on to that style, those thoughts, etc. Remembering, but not holding on to tangible manifestations of that kind of thing, on the other hand, allow me to move forward quickly, without feeling like I need to cling to the past. I hold on to pictures, and some sketches, but they’re all scanned…mostly it’s practical stuff, though!

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  44. When I was in college I had a yearly burn party in December (only time Florida *might* be cool enough to do it.) It was always good times. This post brought back great memories of those parties. Might have to do a shred or donate party here in SFL soon. (Fire is sooo out of the question here.)

  45. This post has inspired me to go home and shred the footlocker of teenage diaries I have been hauling around with me. I know I will never read them again, but I kept them “just in case”. What a great way to let go of the past!

  46. Getting rid of things is so looked down upon. I almost want to say that it’s seen as cowardice. Like you must have done something wrong if you need to get rid of things.

    Who says that has to be th case? Sometimes its just fun.

  47. What about when you’re older, and you’re bound to wheelchairs, wasn’t that the time where you’d flip through old albums and understand what you’ve made of your time.

    I don’t have a lot of pictures. Just saying. Maybe I should, maybe, I’ll upload them somewhere.

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