Tools are the most fundamental handheld items in the Animal Crossing series and are used to perform actions within the game, with each tool serving a specific purpose. There are basic tools that appear in most games in the series that can be used to dig holes, chop trees, water flowers, shoot down balloons and catch bugs, fish and sea creatures. The Wet Suit is uniquely a wearable outfit rather than a handheld item, but it is essential for swimming and diving which cannot be done without wearing one. There are also more specialized tools that fulfil a very specific niche such as aiding traversal around town, changing clothes, or locating villagers, but these tools are typically not essential to gameplay.
Every game features golden versions of the basic tools (excluding the wet suit) that are more effective and have additional effects. City Folk and New Leaf feature silver variants that are similar to the golden tools, but not necessarily as powerful. New Horizons introduces flimsy tools, which can be easily crafted but break after a small amount of uses. They can be upgraded into the standard versions to become more durable. The game also introduces themed variants of the standard tools which can be purchased.
Handheld items function similarly to tools in that they are items held by the player (and sometimes by villagers) that can be used, though their effects are purely visual and serve no real purpose. Additionally, umbrellas function like tools and can be equipped and spun around, but are simply decorative fashion accessories.