With much of the world stuck inside due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are turning to Animal Crossing: New Horizons to recapture the feeling of interacting with the outside world by spending time on the game’s virtual islands and their anthropomorphic animal residents. But the game’s easy-to-use multiplayer that lets you host up to seven guests on an island has also become a popular way to throw real-world events like birthday parties and even weddings.
If you want to host your own party, we’ve put together a guide right here. We’ll offer some ideas on what you can do with your visitors to give you some inspiration and walk through some of the mechanics of hosting the party so that it runs smoothly.
Before the party
Mail out invitations using Dodo Airlines’ postal system
You could invite your friends to your party over text or Discord, but if you want to have a truly authentic Animal Crossing-themed party, consider sending invitations through the in-game postal system at Dodo Airlines.
To do so, head to the Dodo Airlines building and look at the stationery rack to the right of Orville’s desk. The game offers a lot of different card designs you can pick from, and you can even attach a pre-party gift. One thing you should be aware of, though: you can’t send in-game mail to a player unless you’ve visited their island or they’ve visited yours.
Clean up the island before guests arrive
Once you’ve sent invitations, you might want to finally get around to cleaning up your island. In particular, you’ll want to make sure to put any loose, scattered items into your house’s storage, sell those items, or “place” them so that they appear as a physical object on your island. If you just “drop” an item, which is when it just appears as an icon on the ground, it can be scooped up by your visitors. Don’t leave things lying around that you might not want others to pick up!
Open up your island early
Actually getting everyone onto your island can take longer than you’d expect, so I highly recommend opening up your island a little early.
To open your island’s gates, talk to Orville at Dodo Airlines, and he’ll walk you through opening your island for local or online play. (Note that if you want to play online, you’ll need a subscription to the Nintendo Switch Online service.) He’ll also ask if you want to open your island to people on your Nintendo Switch friends list, to your “Best Friends” in the NookPhone’s “Best Friends List” app, or to anyone who enters the five-digit Dodo code Orville will issue to you.
Once your gates are open and visitors start flying in, be aware that each of their arrivals will completely stop you and anyone already on your island from doing anything for about a minute while the game plays a cutscene. Opening up your gates early lets people stagger their arrivals so that everyone isn’t flying in and stopping the game all at once.
During the party
Lead a guided tour
Once everyone has arrived, a good way to start the party is by giving your friends a guided tour of your island. One of the best parts of Animal Crossing: New Horizons is how much you can customize your island — show your friends how you’ve put yours together!
My island, for example, is built around straight lines and grids, while a friend of mine has already split hers into three distinctly themed neighborhoods. Share what makes your island unique with your friends.
Communicate with the in-game chat
If you want to communicate with deeper thoughts than reactions and emotions given to you by villagers, tap the R button on your controller to open an in-game chat window. You can type on it by manually selecting the keys with the controller or using the Nintendo Switch’s touchscreen.
If you’re a Nintendo Switch Online subscriber, you can use the Nintendo Switch Online mobile app to type chat messages using your phone’s keyboard. The app will also let you communicate via voice chat, but those voice messages will only be routed through your phone’s speakers, not the game’s audio. The first time you use the mobile app, though, you’ll also need to set it up from the settings menu that’s accessible on New Horizons’ title screen.
One of my favorite things in New Horizons is collecting new decorations and clothes, so I recommend gifting some of your favorite things to your friends. With the sheer volume of collectible items in the game, there’s a decent chance you’ll give your friends something they don’t already have. And if you really want to take your gift-giving experience up a notch, buy some wrapping paper from Timmy and Tommy at Nook’s Cranny and wrap up your gifts before you hand them out.
Visit the museum
The layout of Blathers’ museum is the same from island to island, but you might have different fish, bugs, and fossils than your friends do. Consider taking a tour of your museum so you can compare what you’ve each found and caught.
Play games together
If you and your friends are looking for something a little more active, you can also play a few games.
One idea is hosting a competition to catch the most fish or insects. Have everyone start in one place (I have people start at the Resident Services plaza), start a timer, and then let everyone scatter across the island to catch as many fish or bugs as they can before time runs out.
Another idea is to make a scavenger hunt by burying treasures around the island. You can make a concentrated plot of gifts like I did in the image below or spread the gifts across the island — or both! And before you bury the items, you might want to wrap them in wrapping paper to add an extra layer of surprise about the buried treasures.
Note that before you start the scavenger hunt, you’ll have to make each of your visitors a Best Friend via your NookPhone’s “Best Friends List” app so that they can actually dig on your island. Making someone a “Best Friend” also lets them use an axe, so make sure you actually trust your friends enough not to chop down your trees.
One really fun game is a clever take on musical chairs called “musical stumps,” which I first saw played by @samirows on Twitter. To prepare the game, plant some trees in a circle-ish formation, with one fewer tree than the number of players, then chop them down to stumps. Once the stumps are ready, have one person play an instrument, like the ocarina, while the other players walk around the stumps. When the musician stops playing, everyone has to race to get on a stump and not be the one left out. Once the dust has settled, remove a stump and do it all again.
You can also just hit each other in the head with your bug nets. I’ve turned this into a game by having people group up in the Resident Services plaza as an “arena” and then having everyone run around and swing at each other with their nets. If you get hit in the head, you’re out. The winner is the last person standing. (Start the match with the ring of a judge’s bell to up the intensity.)
Take a group photo
As the party is winding down, don’t forget to take a group photo to commemorate the event! Pick a gathering spot, have someone open up the camera app on the NookPhone, and have everyone strike a pose with a reaction or by showing off a fish or bug. The camera app also has a lot of fun filters and options to zoom and pan the camera that you can use to get creative with your shot.
These are just a few ideas for how to host a party in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Hosting parties with my friends on my island has really helped me connect with them even though we haven’t seen each other in more than a month, and I hope this guide can give you the tools and inspiration to make memorable events as well.