Now that the holidays are over, most of us are ready to be done with holiday music for a while. The problem is that sometimes our digital music collections have a mind of their own and start playing holiday music even in the middle of July. CNET’s Donald Bell suggests several ways to make sure you don’t have this problem, including storing all of your holiday music on a special flash drive. But if you don’t want to go to all the trouble and expense of his methods, there is a simpler way for those of you who use iTunes on a Mac. It’s easy to setup, doesn’t require any additional materials or software, and works year after year without any user intervention.

1. Make a Smart Playlist
Create a new smart playlist from the iTunes File menu and set it to contain all of your holiday music. You can make this as simple or complicated as you want by using different rules. If you haven’t carefully organized all of your music by genre, just set several rules including genre searches for “Christmas” and “Holiday” and even the word “Christmas” within the song or album title fields. Then set the playlist to include tracks that match any of your rules. As an added bonus you now have all your Christmas music in a single playlist for all of your holiday parties.

2. Make An Automator Workflow
Open up Automator on your Mac and create a new workflow. Add the action “Get Specified iTunes Items”, and select your new holiday music smart playlist. Your second action should be “Set Options of iTunes Songs”. After adding this, select the option “skip when shuffling”. Then save your workflow.


(If you’ve never used Automator, this site is full of examples and explanations.)

3. Make an iCal Plug-in

Use the File menu in Automator and select “save as . . . plug-in for iCal”. iCal will then open and automatically create an event that runs your new workflow. All you have to do is make sure the event is set for the appropriate date after the end of the holidays and make sure it’s scheduled to repeat yearly.

4. Add Your Music For Next Winter
Modify your workflow so that it sets your playlist to be included in shuffle. Then save this plug-in and schedule an event that will add your music back to your library before the holidays begin.

Pretty simple huh? If you get your hands a little dirty up-front you’ll never have to worry about a surprise Christmas song out of season again. Unless of course you like Christmas music enough that you enjoy listening to it year round. In that case, this project is definitely not for you.

Note that this tip works for Mac users. If any Windows users have ideas on how to accomplish this in Windows, mention them in the comments.