Christmas decorations can be as simple or as elaborate as you want them to be – there is absolutely a happy medium between our Puritan ancestors, who believed in zero holiday celebrations, and those lovable Griswolds, from the National Lampoon’s “Christmas Vacation,” who were obnoxiously over-the-top with their Christmas “décor.”

Every project has a starting point, and for Christmas curb appeal, it’s the front porch or entryway of your home. You can begin with something as simple as wrapping garlands (fresh or faux) around porch posts and along balustrades. Then, begin adding wreaths, plants (both green and flowering) and decorations in layers until you accomplish the look you desire.

The end goal is to make the entrance to your home “pop” all the way from the street, as well as providing a warm welcome to guests who drop by during the holiday season. To make that happen, mix textures, shapes and complementary colors. After adding each decoration, walk away (as far as possible) from the door, and study it with a critical eye. Does it fit? If it doesn’t, try again.

We spoke with two experts about how to create perfect Christmas curb appeal, and the elements it takes to make it happen – from fresh greenery, fruit, decorations and other embellishments, these tips will make your home holiday perfect.

Dawn Hart, at ACE Garden Center, on St. Simons Island, says the first thing to do is to choose a theme. Popular themes include traditional, coastal, natural/organic, rustic, citrus and whimsical, or a hybrid. For example, Hart likes a blend of rustic and coastal decors, but also is fond of a traditional design scheme.

Garland is not limited to pine.

“Consider cedar, pine, boxwood and magnolia, faux or fresh greenery,” she said. “They can be adorned with pine cones, berries, ornaments, lights and ribbon.”

Accent with elements like pine cones arranged in galvanized metal, brass, wicker, wooden or burlap-wrapped containers, a rocking chair with a cute Christmas-themed pillow, and other decorative accessories.

Traditional décor begins with plaid and pinecones, Hart said, and a fresh wreath sets the tone.

“A traditional fresh wreath never goes out of style,” she said. “Other options such as swags, bells, fresh or lacquered magnolia, boxwood, pine cones, half-cut wicker or metal baskets full of greenery, screen hangings, (and) decorative frames with ornaments or monogramming are also good choices.”

Hart said that she and Erika Hart, buyer at ACE Garden Center, enjoy decorating with florals, topiaries and poinsettias en masse, and at varying heights.

“Topiaries, with under plantings of white cyclamen, sweet alyssum and green or variegated ivy add holiday color to the winter months,” Hart said. In addition to the aforementioned boxwoods, rosemary, holly, silver and green conifers, ivy and Japanese blueberry are candidates for topiaries. Potted narcissus will add fragrance.

Trying to determine what size wreath you should hang can be a challenge. Hart said that a 24-inch wreath works well on a standard door. It should be hung 14 inches from the top so it hangs at the center and covers two-thirds of the upper half of the door. Hart said to remember to water greenery regularly with a simple spritzing from a household sprayer bottle.

And finally, embellish at will. Hart suggests hanging star or snowflake Christmas decorations on silver conifers that flank each side of the front door as another way to add some charm to your entryway.

“And of course, string lighting your plants adds magic,” she said.

David Lowe, (above) owner of Edward on St. Simons Island, also has some great tips for adding holiday curb appeal to your home. He is a della Robbia enthusiast. Della Robbia wreaths, which are especially popular in Williamsburg, Va., and other are inspired by 18th century Italian engravings, and if all the rules are followed, can only be constructed from fresh fruits and vegetables and native greens. An array of citrus fruit, berries, herbs, and greenery is generally used, along with cotton bolls, magnolia pods and other easy-to-find items in coastal locales.

The materials used depend upon the geographic location of the wreath.

“In the South, citrus is popular, and in the North, apples and berries are used,” said Lowe.

Pomanders – citrus fruit embellished with spices such as cloves, cinnamon and anise provide a great fragrance.

“It permeates the entryway,” he said.

Lighting is also a consideration. When decorating a wreath, Lowe says to leave the string of lights out of it.

“They will make the bow show black from the street,” he said. “Add a spotlight, so it has real curb appeal.”

For houses with multiple wreaths, Lowe recommends using a floodlight. All lights, he said, can be connected to timers.

Once the natural materials have been assembled, the creativity begins. Adorning wreaths and other entryway arrangements with ribbon – in the Golden Isles, velvet and tartan are both very popular – and incorporating different motifs sends a welcoming message from your home to the world.

Chinoiserie, an Asian-inspired aesthetic, primarily in blue and white, is also very popular during the holidays, and can be incorporated into entryway decorations. Lowe has an assortment of ornaments that can be used to embellish holiday décor to an individual’s taste.

Although natural plants are preferred, in the coastal climate, heat and humidity can wreak havoc with organic materials, and that’s precisely where faux décor comes in.

“Add (artificial) picks to fresh greens and natural arrangements,” said Lowe.

Above all, use what grows in your locale. For residents of the Golden Isles that includes cedar, magnolia, philodendron and palmettos. Lowe recommends spray-painting palmettos, pines and magnolias with metallic spray paint for a festive touch.