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Animal Crossing: New Horizons lost item guide

Villagers in Animal Crossing: New Horizons misplace things all the time. It happens to everyone! Although this mechanism was first introduced in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, some of the same concepts and how lost items are handled have found their way into New Horizons. 

Returning lost items can help you increase your friendship points with villagers. The sooner you return lost items to the correct villager, the more your friendship with that villager will increase. Get the lost item to the owner right away and you’ll get a great reward for the lost item’s return. But how do you know who has lost this item you’ve found? Here are some easy ways to narrow down who your lost item belongs to!

Further reading

Lost items

Animal crossing new horizons lost item
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Players can find lost items anywhere on their islands. These items look like a blue/green notebook with a pencil, a pink pouch, or a red book. Lost items are handled a few different ways in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Sometimes, villagers will run up to you and try to get your attention. When you interact with them, they’ll tell you they’ve lost an item and need your help finding it. However, more often than not, you’ll just randomly run into a lost item on your island.

Villagers don’t lose things on your island in a particular place, either. These lost items can be found anywhere that your villagers can reach. If you have a spot that villagers can’t get to, there’s a good chance lost items won’t find their way up there. If you find a lost item on your island, simply walk up to it and press A. Your character will pick the item up and announce they have found a lost item.

Now, it’s your time to figure out which villager this item belongs to. Often, people will assume the villager closest to the item is the owner; however, this is not always the case.

To narrow down who the item could belong to, you should head into your pocket and investigate the item. Simply hit X, highlight the lost item, then press A. An option will appear to let you investigate the item. Each lost item has its own phrases, which can help you narrow down who the owner is. Although it’s not explicitly stated in the game, each lost item will have a phrase that corresponds to different villager personality types.

It’s worth noting that each bag will have one of two phrases that it could read. This can make it a little difficult to narrow down, but not by much.

These are the phrases to look for when narrowing down whom each lost item belongs to.


  • Book: There are lots of pictures of potted trees inside. It looks like an introductory guide to bonsai trees.
  • Notebook: An old planner that’s seen plenty of wear and tear. The last page has tally marks… They are up to 12 now.
  • Bag 1: A sturdy, old-fashioned sort of bag. It gets full points for utility and zero points for style.
  • Bag 2: This classic pouch was built with functionality in mind, nothing more. It’s the work of a craftsman. Maybe.


  • Book: This book is hard to read. The pages are warped, like they’ve gotten wet before. I think it’s an exercise book.
  • Notebook: Somebody scribbled something on the cover in pencil. Looks like it reads, “xtreme xercises”?
  • Bag 1: A very simple bag … that’s a tad open. I spot some gym clothes, I think.
  • Bag 2: A dusty, well-used bag. It vaguely smells like minty sports creams that athletes use.


  • Book: A well-used, well-loved picture book. There are little broken bits of candy between the pages…
  • Notebook: This looks like someone’s diary. Is this a stain from drool? Maybe they fell asleep on it while writing.
  • Bag 1: This pouch is stuffed with something that smells delicious and is probably full of sugar.
  • Bag 2: This pouch looks like it’s starting to tear in places. It’s a little sticky too. Did someone spill juice on it?


  • Book: It’s a novel. The author was obviously trying to be fancy by using lots of foreign words. I don’t get it.
  • Notebook: The cover of the book says “Mi diario secreto.” I get the feeling I shouldn’t look inside.
  • Bag 1: It’s a stylish bag. The complex design says more about style than it does about function.
  • Bag 2: A stylish bag that looks like it could be popular. Whether it actually is popular might depend on the owner…


  • Book: This novel looks really difficult. It’s the kind of book only a voracious reader would think to pick up.
  • Notebook: It reads “My Journal” in tiny letters on the cover. It’s hard not to, but I probably shouldn’t peek inside.
  • Bag 1: An adorable handcrafted bag with something hard and rectangular inside. Maybe it’s a book?
  • Bag 2: A bag with a simple design. I can tell it was painstakingly made by hand.


  • Book: It’s a comic. There’s a girl with big, sparkling eyes on the cover. She’s probably the hero.
  • Notebook: It’s an autograph book, but it’s covered with all kinds of sparkly stickers. It’s making my eyes hurt.
  • Bag 1: A bag made from a soft printed fabric featuring cartoon characters. It’s all lumpy from being packed too full.
  • Bag 2: A snappy bag covered with buttons and pins of different pop stars.


  • Book: A book with pressed flowers inside. Oh! It still has the price sticker on it!
  • Notebook: This looks like somebody’s notebook. The handwriting is mostly illegible, but I can make out the word “Band.”
  • Bag 1: A stylish bag adorned with gold metal spikes. It’s got attitude!
  • Bag 2: The front of the bag has embroidered lettering in gold thread. The words are … “Bikers Are More Fun.”


  • Book: It’s one of those love stories that are so popular nowadays. It has a subtle aroma too. Or is that my imagination?
  • Notebook: I think it’s a personal planner. Every line is filled in with precise, perfect handwriting. Err … I should close this.
  • Bag 1: Maybe this is somebody’s makeup bag? It smells like lovely perfume.
  • Bag 2: A pretty bag that’s been well-loved. It looks like it’s been customized a number of times.

For the most part, you can figure out who each lost item belongs to simply by investigating. However, there are one or two phrases that are absolutely unhelpful. The main phrase that can really grind your gears is “This is a lost item.” It doesn’t help at all, and you’ll have to know your villagers well in order to figure out who it belongs to.

Returning a lost item to the correct owner without showing it to another villager will get you a better overall reward. However, returning the item without the villager asking you to will give you additional friendship points.

Return the lost item

Animal crossing new horizons lost item
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Although you won’t know right away who the lost item belongs to, you’ll be able to narrow it down based on the personality types you have on your island. To return the lost item to the villager, simply go up to the villager and interact with them. Instead of a talk or gift option, you’ll be presented with a “Did you lose this?” option. The game will automatically open your pocket, and you’ll be able to present the villager with the lost item.

However, sometimes you’ll have more than one villager with the same personality type on your island. If you guess wrong the first time, that’s totally fine! Although your reward for the lost item won’t be as good, you’ll still get more than if you didn’t return the item. Offering the lost item to the wrong villager won’t ruin anything. What’s more, the incorrect villager will directly tell you who the lost item belongs to, which makes things way easier. After speaking with the wrong villager, you can just head over to the correct one and present the item to them.

Lost items only have one day to return. Once you move forward to the next day or forget about the item until the next day, you’ll end up stuck with the lost item in your inventory. Instead of saying lost item, however, it’ll read “What was this again?” You’ll have to dispose of the item to get it out of your inventory, and there are two ways to do that.

The first is to try to sell the now-forgotten item to Nook’s Cranny. You won’t get any coins because Timmy and Tommy consider the item trash at this point, but they’ll dispose of it for free for you. The second way to get rid of forgotten items is by tossing them into trash cans. Getting rid of lost items won’t get you any coins and it certainly won’t raise friendship levels, but we’ve found that not returning items also doesn’t hurt friendship levels. However, if you’re after those coveted Villager Portraits, you’ll definitely want to start returning all the lost items possible!

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Leijah Petelka
Leijah Petelka is a freelance gaming guides writer for Digital Trends. She covers a variety of game types, but she does love…
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