Wreaths, garlands and lights will all help set the scene, says Hannah Stephenson.

When it comes to decorating this Christmas, don't forget to dress the outside of your home, as well as the inside.

And transforming your entrance is a great way guarantee a warm, festive welcome whenever you come home or have guests round.

Tempted? We've done the homework for you...

Pick a theme "The simplest way to achieve a stylish, coherent look for your front door is to pick a theme," says Craig Roman, in-house expert for Dobbies Garden Centres (dobbies.com), which has a vast array of wreaths and festive decos to choose from. "The 'classic' look - with lots of evergreen foliage, colourful berries and pine cones - is ever popular, easy to achieve, and can be adapted to look as traditional or modern as you like.

"For a contemporary take on the traditional, look to Scandinavia for inspiration. Combine the cool tones of metal planters with rustic wood, bare stems, glistening red berries and red and white gingham ribbon.

This works especially well with modern homes - the key is keeping things simple, with a limited palette of colours inspired by nature."

Choose a wreath The obvious place to start is a wreath for your front door. Traditional wreaths are often adorned with baubles, berries and coloured ribbon, while a more minimalist, less fussy approach might be to weave some natural stems such as dogwood, hazel or willow together, securing the ends with florists' wire.

Add garlands to frame your door A luxuriant garland of foliage in your porch or canopy will come to life when the sun fades with some lights woven through it.

You can buy lengths of plain natural-looking greenery from nurseries and DIY centres, to secure to ledges above the front door or window and then drape down the sides of your porch, adorned with baubles, ribbons and natural materials to complement your door wreath.

Take inspiration from nature "Using nature's bounty can be a simple, thrifty and environmentally-friendly way to decorate your home, both inside and out.

Hunt out plants like ivy, osmanthus, euonymus, holly and pyracantha, which can be used in wreaths and garlands or planted in pots by your front door," says Craig.

"The fiery-coloured stems of dogwoods (cornus) will also add a shot of vibrant colour to container displays, if you have any stems you can snip off and use."

Use festive pots Plant up pots with the festive reds of polyanthus and the berries of wintergreen (gaultheria), or choose cool whites and silvers with white-flowered violas, blue fescue grass and cineraria.

Metallic tones also feature at this time of year, and gold gives warmth to festive decorations and really sings when combined with reds and greens, while silver has a cool, contemporary feel. Both tones reflect light, which is especially welcome during winter when the nights are long.

Evergreen herbs, such as rosemary, thyme and bay, can be potted up and placed by a door so that they release their fragrant oils when people brush past. Or you could pick some aromatic sprigs and add them to your wreath.

Add fragrance "For more fragrance, you could grow winter-scented plants around your front door - either in large containers or, if you have space, in the ground. Look out for winter-flowering plants like Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn', Christmas box (sarcococca) and mahonia, which will fill the air with their delicious fragrance," says Craig.

Put a tree outside Why stop at one Christmas tree indoors? If you porch is large enough, decorate it with a small container-grown tree or a collection of them to add a seasonal touch. Even if you just have a small area, you could plant a festive conifer in a red or gold pot, and add battery-powered lights and baubles.

If you have room for a larger tree, a few logs around the base gives a rustic feel, and it can be dressed with outdoor lights and decorations that will withstand the weather, such as foraged pine cones.

Alternatively, place some twisted stems of contorted hazel in a tall container and drape them in plain white lights.

Let there be light Christmas would not be the same without decorative lights, which give front gardens an inviting festive sparkle. The warm glow of a lamp-lit porch always feels very welcoming when it is dark outside.

Standard hollies and bays either side of the porch can be lifted with soft-glow lights, or you could splash out on illuminated frames of reindeer or tree pyramids to add focus to the scene.

Battery-powered LED lights are brilliant for making entrances feel inviting without worrying about electricity. Coil strings of lights inside large glass preserving jars, close the lids to keep the rain out, and group them together to create a soft glow.

Alternatively, drape them across container displays. LED candles are very effective and much safer for children and pets than the real thing.

You could put some inside lanterns along the path and steps to your door for an extra warm welcome.

Transform trees, bushes and topiary around your door with strings or nets of lights too. Whether you prefer multi-coloured bulbs or plain whites in either warm or cool tones is up to you, but whatever you choose, make sure they're suitable for outdoor use.