Bringing something to a dinner party is always a nice gesture. Sometimes the host will ask for something specific; other times, you have 20 minutes until you have to be there when you suddenly realize that you are empty-handed. What do you do?
We recommend keeping it simple and going the conventional route with a standard dinner party gift that is sure to make your host happy.
Booze is pretty much the default. There's nothing wrong with showing up with a nice bottle of wine. If you're knowledgeable with fermented grapes, try to find out what the host is making and bring something that pairs well. But if you don't know the difference between Malbec and Merlot, don't stress! Play it safe and bring some prosecco. The bubbly white wine is almost always a pre-dinner hit, and it's easy on the wallet, too.
What if your host doesn't drink? You can always bring non-alcoholic drinks, like sparkling cider or high quality loose leaf tea. A nice bouquet is a great alternate to wine too. Flowers make a great centerpiece and are almost always appreciated.
But steer clear of appetizers or food dishes, unless it's a potluck or a specific request. If you insist on bringing food, your best bet is to keep it simple with fancy nuts, gourmet salts, good chocolate or cookies. If you want to bring a more elaborate dessert, always check with your host first.
If all else fails -- maybe your host insists that you don't bring anything, or you don't get paid until next week -- offer up your skills. Volunteer to be the designated bartender if cocktails are on the menu and you know how to mix them.