With the holidays approaching, families are making plans to visit loved ones. Here are five easy tricks to add beauty to your home and impress your guests when they arrive.

Dress your front porch

You wouldn't want to greet your anticipated guests without wearing pants; and your front door doesn't want to, either. Your front porch is one of the first things that your guests will see when they arrive. Sweep and get rid of any spider webs or debris. Place a welcome mat at the foot of the door where guests can wipe their shoes, and display a beautiful, colorful wreath on the door. Add seasonal accessories like a hanging flower basket, a big pot of mums or a small evergreen.

Designate a greeting area

Where do you plan to invite your guests to sit down once they arrive? Wherever that is, make it as inviting as possible. Arrange seating around an area rug and/or coffee table and add a lamp for atmosphere. Light a candle or use a fragrance warmer. Stick with scents that are not overpowering, such as coconut, apple, pumpkin or vanilla. Make sure the room is clean and free of any pet hair or carpet stains. If you don't have a carpet cleaner, a good carpet brush and some hot water can be used to spot clean.

Put away the clutter

There is no escaping once you cross over to the clutter side — better avoid it altogether. The surest way to demonstrate your master skills in defeating clutter is to not accumulate it. My general rule (and there are always exceptions) is if I haven't had need for it in over a year and I have no sentimental attachment to it, I donate it to charity so someone else can find a use for it. However, having some clutter is unavoidable and this is where designating a few areas to corral it can be very helpful.

There should be a place for backpacks, purses, coats, shoes, etc. near the entrance of your home that family members use most often. You can install hooks into the walls or, if renting, get ones that hang over the door. The piles of bills and coupons in the kitchen are an unsightly mess — get an attractive basket to collect and de-junk it once a week. If your living room is overrun by toys, get a large bin and tuck it behind the sofa so cleanup is quick and easy.

Prep the guest bathroom

Especially if your guests are not close family members who would be comfortable announcing "There's no toilet paper!" from behind the bathroom door, prepping the guest bathroom is one of the ways to help your guests feel welcome. Keep some disinfectant wipes under the sink or just behind the toilet. Use them to wipe down the toilet and sink every day between cleanings. Be sure there's a clean hand towel, soap and backup rolls of toilet paper. Don't forget a small waste basket hidden under the sink if possible.

Dress your table

If you have taken care of all of the above and you are looking for a way to add a finishing touch for your guests, look no further than your dining and/or kitchen table. Keep them clean and add a splash of color with a tablecloth or centerpiece. If your guests walk in and find fresh flowers on the table, it will be a conversation piece as well as a special treat. Flowers add so much beauty, but can be expensive to replenish, so have a beautiful ceramic plate or bowl to put in their place when they begin to wilt. Your guests are not coming to judge your home; they are coming to visit and spend time with you — and isn't that alone worth the extra effort?

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