By Denver Nicks
December 15, 2015
Yuri Arcurs—Getty Images/iStockphoto

We all reach our limit at some point. After days or weeks of holiday parties, extended family gatherings, shopping, and gift-giving, the incessant droll of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” echoing into infinity can be enough to turn even the most festive reveler’s Christmas cheer into Christmas jeers.

But experts say there’s a way to keep the holiday vibe alive without conjuring the Grinch deep within us all. The key with Christmas music, AdWeek reports, is knowing what not to do.

Novelty Christmas music is a surefire way to drive customers out of stores, John Bradley, chief music officer of the streaming service Custom Channels, tells AdWeek. “Don’t play annoying music,” he says, “like ‘Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.’ Those songs provoke a negative attitude.”

All-Christmas-music-all-the-time is also a recipe for disaster, Bradley says, even if customers—who are not a captive audience—aren’t driven mad by the 1,000th round of “Greensleeves.” “If employees don’t have to hear a song once an hour,” he says, “they don’t get the humbug attitude.” Instead, Bradley recommends a 60/40 split.

Loud Christmas music can turn off even the holiday sweater-wearing set, especially if they are older. Stores are better off keeping the volume low, says environmental psychologist Paco Underhill.

Finally, while one-size-fits-all holiday tunes are a nice idea in theory, in reality some song styles are better suited to certain demographics than others. Underhill advises matching music with the kind of people who tend to come into a store at certain times of day. “You may find some 20-somethings don’t want to be listening to cheesy holiday hits in their favorite fashion store,” consultant Corin Birchall tells AdWeek. “But they may not object to an acoustic rendition of [a] holiday favorite.”