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, take 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 over 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.

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!

Update: May 15, 2016

Looking back, I tend to conflate the shred party with the breakup party, but they were actually very different experiences and took place at different points in the radical lifestyle change-up process.

My ex and I both realized that we had all the stuff we were clinging to, though, so we borrowed this crazy industrial-grade shredder and went to town on piles of unnecessary paperwork and photos we were holding onto. It was a blast, and it was an excellent precursor to the breakup party.