Animal Crossing: New Horizons beginner tips and tricks

There’s a lot to do in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. We’ve made this list of tips and tricks to help you make the most of your island paradise. We’ll follow this up with some more advanced tips, as well as an online etiquette guide.

When you’re starting out, choose your building placements carefully – they cost money (and time) to move later. Of course, by that point, you’ll likely have plenty of bells, but you could be spending those on other things. 


Your island has one native fruit. It will sell for 100 bells each on your island, but will sell for 500 bells on a friend’s island if they have a different native fruit. A few mystery islands will have a ‘sister fruit’ – one type of non-native fruit. All non-native fruits will sell on your island for 500 bells. To collect the other types of fruit, you’ll need to visit friends’ islands and plant their fruit on your island. Coconuts sell for 200 bells on any island. 

You can transplant fully grown trees by eating a fruit and then digging up the tree. 

Only eat fruit when you need to! You’ll destroy rocks in one hit if you’ve eaten a fruit. Ideally only eat your native fruit since they aren’t worth as many bells. 

Image provided by Kitana from Osperia

Rocks and Trees

Rocks will respawn at a rate of one per day if you accidentally destroyed them. 

Rocks can be hit up to 8 times. Dig two holes behind you to stop yourself being pushed back, and use the axe instead of the shovel to prevent yourself from digging holes instead of hitting the rock.

Use the stone axe unless you want to chop down trees (which the ‘axe’ will do on the third hit).

Tree stumps can be dug up with the shovel. However, certain bugs only appear on stumps, so keep a few on your island. 


When balloons are nearby they make a distinctive ‘whooshing’ sound that you can hear quite clearly. The sound gets louder the closer you get to the balloon. Shoot down these balloons, especially during seasonal events to get the seasonal recipes (such as the cherry blossom or autumn mushroom recipes). 

Balloon gifts bounce when they hit the ground, and they may bounce into water. They’ll also disappear if there’s no free space on the ground for them to land (this also happens with things that fall from trees). 

Balloons will disappear when you enter a building.

Balloons fly in from the left side of your island during the day, and from the right at night. They also spawn at regular intervals, so keep an eye on the clock.

Image provided by Valshen from Normandee


Plant lots of flower seeds early on – growing and breeding flowers takes time, so you want to get an early start. Flowers need an adjacent empty space to produce more flowers, so leave some spaces to allow new flowers to grow. Diagonal grids are quite popular for this.

You can transplant flowers by digging them up and planting them elsewhere. This includes flowers from other islands. 

Pressing Y near a flower is more likely to pick the flower instead of picking up a nearby item. 

If you’re really keen on getting those rare colours of flowers, you may wish to use one of the many detailed guides online. Some rare colours take quite a lot of work.

Don’t run through flowers! There’s a good chance you’ll destroy the flower there (but not the plant) and the flowers will then take a day to regrow. Walking is fine, though. 

Daily tasks

Your island should have four buried fossils daily. Your beach should have a message in a bottle daily as well, with a DIY recipe. 

Shake trees with your net equipped. Shake from the front, facing the tree. If the tree has wasps in it, your character will turn to look at the wasps. Then all you have to do is press A and you should catch the wasps. 

Shaking trees will give you tree branches, acorns, pine cones and more. Every day, two trees will drop furniture or decor objects, and up to five trees will contain wasps. Don’t bother with fruit trees – they don’t seem to drop anything but fruit and the occasional branch. You may wish to plant your fruit trees in a different area of your island so it’s easy to distinguish them from the other trees. If you aren’t sure, eat a fruit and use the shovel to dig a tree up, your inventory somehow knows if it is a fruit tree or not. 

Trees may drop multiple branches or other items like acorns if you shake them several times. 

Image provided by Valshen from Normandee

Once a day, you’ll find a glowing spot on the ground. Dig it up and you’ll get some bells. If you bury 10,000 bells in that hole, in a few days you’ll get a money tree bearing 30,000 bells. They only give money ‘fruit’ once, after which they become normal hardwood trees. 

Shells will wash up on shore over the course of the day, so it’s a good idea to check your beaches several times a day. This also applies to shooting stars. If you wished on several the night before, keep an eye on your beaches throughout the day. 

Each day, a different NPC will visit your island. Sometimes they set up shop in your plaza, but others may be found wandering your island. Some stay until 10pm, while others hang around until 5am the next morning. Daisy Mae, the turnip seller, only visits your islands until noon on a Sunday. So if you wake up late, you’ll miss her!


Villagers who are in their house may be crafting. If you speak to them while crafting, they’ll give you the recipe they’re crafting. Your friends can visit and get the recipe too. If a villager is home, their house will have smoke coming out of their chimneys and their curtains will be open.

Villagers will keep gifts you give them… so be careful what you give them! If you give them a doorplate or wreathe, they may put it on their front door. If you give them clothes, they will probably wear them. Villagers love wrapped gifts – you can buy gift wrapping from Nook’s Cranny. 

Image provided by Kitana from Osperia

Departing villagers often leave random items in the ‘lost and found’ bin in Resident Services. I’ve picked up some great new items from there!

You will be forced to invite your first campsite visitor to stay on the island, so speak to them a few times when you first meet them and get it over with. (Hopefully they’re cute!)

Items and collecting

If you have the net equipped and hold down A, you’ll be able to creep forward with your net. When you release A, you’ll swipe your net in the direction you were facing. This is handy for catching bugs that normally flee immediately as you approach them. 

Hang on to those precious gold nuggets! They may sell for a lot, but you’ll want them later for crafting materials. 

Items dropped on the ground will stay there. Handy if you are having storage or inventory problems! Just be aware that visitors from other islands can pick up anything you drop. 

You can rebuy many items if you don’t have storage space for them: furniture items from Nook’s Cranny, and clothing items from Able Sisters. Crafted items and some items that come in balloons cannot be bought/ordered from the Nook Stop catalogue. 

Buy KK albums daily from the Nook Stop terminal. You can display them or gift them, but you can also listen to them by registering them on any music playing device, such as a stereo or record player. 

Give Blathers the first of any fish, bug or fossil you collect to build up your museum collection. The museum is one of the loveliest buildings in the game. You’ll know you’ve caught a new critter when your character says ‘Yes!’ after catching it. 

Image provided by Valshen from Normandee

Different fish and bugs are available at different times of the day, during different months, in different locations, and even during different weather conditions. What’s available on your island will also differ depending on what hemisphere your island is in. You’ll probably want to grab some kind of guide once you’ve caught the common critters on your island to help you get those rarer beasties. 

You can scare fish – and some bugs – away by running near them. Pole vaulting, climbing and other actions may also disturb nearby fish or bugs. Fish also won’t spawn in water that’s visible on screen, unless you use bait. 

Each mystery island, if it has normal, non-fruit trees, will have one with wasps and one with a piece of furniture. Some mystery islands also have a DIY bottle on their beach. 

Bait is crafted using manila clams. They appear on the beach and shoot little jets of water. They’re still there after the water disappears though, so you can still dig them up.

Holes you’ve dug can be filled in by pressing Y – this doesn’t decrease the durability of your shovel. Holes will also vanish if you exit the game. 

Image provided by Valshen from Normandee

Shooting stars

You can see shooting stars on clear nights, usually after 10pm. They make a faint sound as well. Make sure you’re not holding anything, then look up and press A while the star is on the screen. The next morning, a star fragment will wash up on your beach. It seems to be one fragment per wish, up to a limit of about 25 fragments – even if you wished on more stars than that the previous night. (I tested this in a meteor shower where I wished on over 150 stars… let’s just say I was disappointed the next day.)

Celeste will visit your island on some clear nights. She’ll give you a crafting recipe when you talk to her. You can get one of these a day, so ask friends if she’s visiting their islands and go chat to her for a recipe.

We’ll be back next week with some more advanced tips and tricks, as well as some tips for playing online!

Gamer, geek, LEGO fanatic. I also love Pathfinder RPG, The Sims, cross stitching, crochet, and sci-fi and fantasy movies, games & books. And animals.

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