'Tis the season for holiday festivities, which not only means that people will be spending more time gathering and dining out, but they'll also be indulging in desserts. For restaurants, this can provide a unique opportunity to offer special holiday desserts or pastries—both for guests who are dining in, and taking out. Some restaurants even expand their catering offerings to provide full trays of desserts for events. So as you prepare for the holidays, here are a few ways to get creative with your holiday dessert menu.

Make the Most of Seasonal Flavors

The holidays are full of flavors that evoke happy memories of the holidays—from pumpkin, cinnamon, and pecan around Halloween and Thanksgiving, to egg nog, nutmeg, and peppermint around Christmas time. These are flavors that are generally easy to work into pastries and are always crowd-pleasers. Pie Junkie in Oklahoma City has the right idea when it comes to putting a creative twist on some of their seasonal desserts. They do a pumpkin pie with a maple bourbon whipped cream and an orange bourbon pecan pie. For the holidays, they usually sell out of their offerings within a 48-hour time period. GT Fish & Oyster in Chicago has an even more unique dine-in dessert for the fall holidays: the deep-fried pumpkin. It's stuffed with sweet potato and cinnamon ice cream, apple sorbet, and gingerbread cake, and topped with meringue.

Add Cookies and Mignardises to Your Menu

One of the easiest ways to jump on the take-out holiday dessert train is to create cookies or mignardises. This is an especially good idea if your kitchen isn't equipped to churn out dozens of pies or cakes. Gingerbread men or beautifully decorated holiday sugar cookies are always a hit and are easy to find. Foodlife in Chicago does Christmas tree cookies that are complete with chocolate candy lights. Mignardises tend to be found on the menus at some fancier restaurants—offering small bites of chocolate, caramel, and fruit-infused treats.

Go with What You Know

If pastries aren't a large part of what you do now, taking holiday to-go orders may not be right for your restaurant. However, if you have a signature dessert item—perhaps a chocolate cake or caramel pie—the holidays are a perfect time to offer the item as a takeaway dessert option. If your restaurant is equipped with a bakery counter, adding in a few seasonal items can go a long way for customers who are looking for something special to bring to a party. If your restaurant is too small to handle either option, adding a seasonal twist to one of your signature dessert offerings will likely please your regular diners.

The holidays are a time when guests are more indulgent. After all, who doesn't want to celebrate with something sweet before the new year brings a renewed focus on healthy eating? Use these inspirational tips and ideas to start thinking of ways to add some festive flavor to your holiday desserts.