While I love hosting a gathering of smiling and hungry faces, once in a while it's nice to be a guest (less cleaning). I have a personal rule to never show up empty handed but I'd be lying if I said I've never broken that rule. I've shown up with nothing but an empty stomach a few times. Don't let this happen to you!
If you have time to make a homemade dish, this is optimal. However, be sure that it somewhat fits with the menu and please don't bring something that has to go in the oven or takes up a lot of room in the fridge. Your host has been planning this meal all day and those appliances are probably busy and / or full.
Don't have time to make something? No problem. A bottle of wine will always work. Another great option is a cookbook. If your host is having you over for a big meal, chances are they enjoy cooking on some level so do a little research and pick out one you think they'll enjoy. For extra bonus points, you can wrap the gift in a reusable kitchen linen, like one of our Food Philosophy kitchen towels. Need help doing the actual wrapping? I did to. Check out all sorts of wrapping ideas using the Furoshiki technique! Happy Gifting!