Visitors sometimes get a warning when entering the downstairs gamer's cove at the Bonds house: "If you can't hang, you get demoted."
That is to say, if you can't hold your own while playing the latest Xbox or PlayStation 2 games on the Bondses' jumbo set in the basement, you'll get booted to an off-to-the-side 13-inch TV, out of the way so the big boys can play. The coffee table holds five game machines, including the PlayStation 2 to the obsolete Sega Dreamcast.
Nicholas is interested in "all things electronic." He carries an iPod Shuffle and a digital camera. He's hoping to get a PlayStation Portable for Christmas this year, but he also has a list of alternative and equally expensive gadgets if that doesn't work out.
He and his father used to build computers and sell them to friends and family members in the area; the hobby once paid for a family trip to Orlando -- and when they took that vacation, they brought a game console with them. The computers they didn't sell have ended up as table stands in the family's home theater in their Clinton home.
Nicholas wants the latest video-game console, the Xbox 360, mainly because it will play the next version of the game Halo, even though Microsoft hasn't announced a release date for the next sequel of the bestselling video game.
His father, Kevin, advises him not to hold his breath waiting on the device, which costs up to $400 -- a price that doesn't include games. "I can't shop for him anymore," he shrugs. "I created a monster."
Gift suggestions for the teenager on your list
$ Xingtone ringtone software -- The software allows users to create custom cell phone ringtones using tracks from their personal digital music libraries. $20. Visit www.xingtone.com to download the software or learn more. Also consider: Pretty much any age-appropriate video game will do. Most games for handheld and console gaming devices are in the $40 to $60 range.
$$ Turtle Beach gaming headsets -- When you're playing interactive video games against others on the Internet, why compromise the sounds of the game with the conversation of the gamers? Have both with high-end headsets designed for the interactive gamer. $80.
$$$ iPod Nano -- The ultra-popular, thin-as-a-pencil music player holds two gigabytes ($199) or four gigabytes ($249) of music. Also consider: the Sidekick II, a "smart phone" with service by T-Mobile that also plays games, surfs the Web and allows users to send and receive instant messages while on-the-go. $250 and up.
$$$$ The PlayStation Portable -- The name alone tells you that this is a gaming device, but the portability and its capability to play music and video clips puts it into a new popular league. $250. Also consider: Xbox 360 -- The highly anticipated, more-than-just-a-gaming-console hits the shelves this week. $300 and $400.