In England, always a bunch of flowers and a bottle of wine.
In Belgium, a box of chocolates.
In Germany, it varied depending on whose house we were going to and how well we knew them, but usually a bunch of flowers with something else. A little present for any children in the house was the norm there.
In Singapore, nothing, though the occasional bottle of Champagne always went down well!
My parents were German, Verity, and they always brought something for the children -I have not heard of people doing this since, until you mention it now -must have been a German custom!
You just did not go to anyones house who had children, without taking them a present.
We were a bit surprised the first time someone came to dinner and brought a present for our son but soon learnt it was the done thing in Germany. A rather sweet custom I think, as usually dinner hosts have plenty of wine already and struggle to cope with finding vases for bouquets when they are also hanging up coats and trying to prepare a meal! Handling a present is much simpler :)
Depends who we are visiting. If I'm off to a BBQ or some such (which is about the only place we get invited these days, with 2 toddlers lol!) I will bring a big bowl of my fabulous potato salad or something like that. Maybe a nice marinade for the chicken. Or a homemade satay sauce. If it was someone who I knew would appreciate a bottle of wine I'd take that. If it's someone I don't know I would stick to something fairly simple - maybe a not too expensive wine or a nice box of chocolates.
Always wine, and usually a side dish of some sort at the very least. Showing up with 4 kids and expecting someone to feed us all is a bit much I think! Where we go everyone has lots of kids though, so everyone brings a dish of something normally.
I always take something. If it is close friends they may ask for a "plate" to contribute such as cheese platter. Wine and good chocolates that people don't buy for themselves or some thing like a nice bar of soap, a trinket that they may be collecting, I match the gift to the person. I never go empty handed.
Wow! Wonder how much was spent by hosts' on feeding you?
What you do is certainly cheap! My silver is laid out hours' before guests arrive & I have an electronic dishwasher!
Have NEVER had anyone come to Dinner & not bring at least a bottle of wine! If they came empty handed, like my useless, ignorant parents in law, they were not/would not be asked again!
Last time went to friends' for Dinner, took a bottle of wine each, a large pack of 'Favourites' (the thing you take when you're told not to bring a thing!), & a bunch of Flowers for the cook!
All were well received! The meal was superb, as it always is at this couple's!