How to Get Balloon Presents
As soon as you are able to being crafting DIY items by attending Tom Nook‘s Workshop, speak to Timmy in the Resident Services Tent (or in Nook’s Cranny when it has been built) to buy a Slingshot Recipe. After crafting it yourself, you can also buy them from Nook’s Cranny instead of making more yourself.
Once you have a Slingshot, listen for a gusting wind noise that increases in volume the close the balloon present gets. Be sure to look at the angle of the shadows on the ground to get an idea of where the balloon is actually floating. Once you are around its general point, press and hold A to ready your slingshot to fire straight above you, and release A to fire when you believe the balloon is passing right overhead. If you miss, either keep waiting or move quickly to reorient yourself.
Balloon Presents blow in from the ocean around every 5-10 minutes, either from the left or right side of the island. They generally move in a horizontal path, but have been known to veer slightly up or down.
Balloon Presents can spawn on either side of your island – though they do tend to favor appearing on one side of your island during the day, and the other during the night. Be sure to notice which side they blow in from to patrol that side’s beach..
How to Quickly Get Balloon Presents Every 5 Minutes
Balloon Presents tend to blow in on a timer every 5-20 minutes, but there is a way to reset this timer to ensure that the balloon appears every 5 minutes. As of Patch 1.1.4, this method still seems to work more often than not.
According to Twitter user @Arumi_kai, you can force balloon presents to appear by entering certain buildings and beginning a conversation to ensure that the player is not marked as inactive, and then leave by a certain time to ensure the balloon will spawn shortly thereafter.
According to the tests, the balloon presents will always spawn in the sea out of view on times ending in :_4 and :_9, and will then reach the island by :_5 and :10. In order to ensure these balloons spawn, you need to enter and leave certain buildings – like Nook’s Cranny or the Museum – by :_3 and :_8. In this time, speak to Timmy about buying and item, and then back out and exit (or ask to donate an item to Blathers).
If you leave soon after, and wait until the time hits :_4 or :_9, you can then head to the beach and begin to patrol up and down until you see the balloon present or hear the gusting that marks its approach. Shoot it down, and then get ready for the next balloon spawn, and repeat the process!
Note that this may not have a 100% success rate, but it has been found to work most times.
Balloon Present Contents and Types of Gifts
As you notice the balloons fly over your island, you may note that the balloons come in several different colors. The presents contained within can come in many different varieties – and include the following:
Because of this, it is highly recommended that you always shoot down balloons regardless of color – instead of relying on a certain color to give you a certain type of reward.
During certain events, other types of Balloon Presents may appear in addition to the normal Balloon Presents, and operate on a different timer to appear alongside them.
You may notice that in your Nook Mileage rewards, there’s Nook Miles to be earned from shooting down Balloon Presents. This ends with a final reward for popping 300 Balloon Presents.
After you’ve achieved this milestone, you should keep looking to the skies, as you’ll now be able to find a golden balloon present floating over your island. Shoot this down, and you’ll be rewarded with a recipe to make the Golden Slingshot – which only needs 1 Gold Nugget and a regular crafted Slingshot to make.
While a fairly flashy item to dazzle your friends with, it unfortunately can still break after around 200 uses.