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One would be forgiven for thinking that the world is somehow competing with itself in a sort of “Wildest Year Ever” contest.

Let’s admit it: We’re all still reeling from the political tumult that took hold in 2016 and has yet to abate; from the Covid lockdowns and social unrest of 2020; and from the rushed shift back to “normalcy” in 2021. Then came 2022, with its landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions, global protests of controlling regimes – and of course, the ever-present, ever-worsening impacts of climate change. And that’s just a small sampling of all that’s transpired this year.

It feels downright vital to carve out moments of serenity and beauty for ourselves amid all of it – and that’s what our 2022 holiday gift guide is all about. Earlier this fall, we put out a call for women entrepreneurs to tell us about the ways in which their companies and products make ours “A More Beautiful World” to live in. We poured over nearly 100 applications, then reviewed dozens of finalists’ samples, to create this year’s guide.

Now, we present our selections – 12 great gifts, all under $150, for your loved ones, your colleagues, or yourself. And each will, in their own ways, add a bit more calm, more love, and yes, more beauty to this hectic, swirling, often-maddening thing we call life.

All gifts were independently researched, reviewed and chosen by The Story Exchange, which does not earn a commission. Product images are credited to each business owner, unless otherwise noted.

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A 70s-Era Smartphone Escape

Macrame Set by Allie Cunningham of Set It Down – “Doom scrolling” helps no one, hence the company’s set-the-screen-down mission. These handy DIY macrame sets provide a low-key, non-messy way to unplug. And when you’re done, you have something beautiful to display. Bonus: The easy-to-follow instructions make these kits great for beginners.

$22 - Available here
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A Coffee Table Stunner

“Revealed at the Edge” by Allison Davis of Allison Davis Photography – Our judges were pleasantly taken aback by the book itself – the heft and overall quality of it. But even more so, we loved the stunning natural imagery, and how the collection chronicles Davis’ survival of the aforementioned pandemic lockdowns, and the loss of wedding photography gigs that came with it.

$125 - Available here
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A Fun, Feminist Toast

Ruthless Wine Collection by Jill Osur of Teneral Cellars – For those who choose to imbibe, here’s an option that will leave you feeling warm inside in more ways than one. The company seeks to educate customers about issues such as abortion access and gun control through its packaging, and donates 10% of its profits to racial and gender justice organizations.

$105 - Available here
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A Toasty, Compassionate Gift

Socially Conscious Socks by Cindi Busenhart of MERGE4 – These are as pleasing to the eye as they are to the touch – each pair is designed and crafted by artists from soft, springy bamboo. But our favorite part is that MERGE4 teams up with nonprofits to elevate their causes. (The “Jane Goodall” socks in particular won over the judges.)

$20 - Available here
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A Great Stocking (and Tummy) Stuffer

Holiday Brownie Assortment by Pamela Jablonski of Pamela’s Brownies – Indulgence can be a beautiful thing – and these soft, sweet brownies definitely count as such. They’re chocolatey, decadent, and can come decorated with cute, also-edible goodies. Owner Jablonski, also a nurse educator, boasts a serotonin boost with every bite.

$30 - Available here
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A High-Tech ‘I Love You’

Video Book by Ashley Kenny of Heirloom – Now here’s a truly unique idea – one that’s especially great for any seniors on one’s shopping lists. Heirloom creates a digital love letter housed and shipped in a physical book. Recipients open it up and are treated to 10 (or more) minutes of personal videos and photos, hand-picked by the gifter.

$49 - Available here
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A Creative, Scented Light

Candles by Divina Casila of Depress Me Not Candles – It’s difficult to make a candle that feels unique. But these pull it off, with fun messages on the packaging, pastel glass containers, cute floral details in the wax and of course, pleasant (but not overwhelming) scents. There’s also an emotional backstory – read about Casila’s commitment to mental health here.

$33 - Available here
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An Aromatic Path to Wellness

Chakra Roller Set by Arianne Ortiz and Tara Raj of Earth’s Farmacy – For the more spiritual individuals on your holiday shopping list, this substantial, well-crafted gift set will be a home run. The packaging was lovely, and each roller smelled wonderful. Our judges also appreciated the written guides that explained where on the body to apply them for optimal impact.

$95 - Available here
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A Delicious Kick for Gourmet Meals

International Flavors Gift by Meaghan Thomas of Pinch Spice Market – While there are plenty of spice sellers out there, the diversity of options in this gift set wowed us. (Think spices from Ethiopia, India and Jamaica.) And, the company deals directly with farmers to avoid exploitation within the broader spice trade world. (Credit: Nathan Cornetet, Fusion Photography)

$32 - Available here
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Show-Stealing Dangle Earrings

3D Printed Earrings by Ariadne Kapelioti of Ariadne Kapelioti Contemporary Jewelry – Fans of statement jewelry, rejoice! These bold earrings will be the center of attention at any function you attend. You’ll then keep that focus on you when you explain that these ultra-light, shock-blue earrings (besides the silver spokes) are 3D printed. It’s the jewelry of the future.

$82 - Available here
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A Comfy Love Wrap

Love Blanket by Sunny Goode of Lovevolve – Goode, a survivor of an unhealthy relationship, wants to ensure no one else goes without warmth or love. Made from organic cotton, these blankets are certainly soft to the touch. But the subtlety of the “love” message itself, stitched into each blanket and scarf’s design, truly won over our judges. (Credit: Jacqui Photography)

$78 - Available here
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A Cool, Healing Facial Treat

Facial Massagers by Reham Essa of Radixir – If there’s one thing we’re all collectively feeling at present, it’s “exhausted.” Who couldn’t use something cooling, comforting – and sparkly – to remedy some of that? These glass globes, chilled in the fridge and applied gently to the face, promise to both tighten and brighten our world-weary faces.

$39 - Available here