Are you a Black Friday mall warrior? A Small Business Saturday super shopper? A Cyber Monday ultimate deal-finder? How about hopping on board a new holiday tradition? Introducing Giving Back Tuesday!


I’m all about tradition and this is a one I am thrilled to make a part of my family’s holiday season, starting this month. Here’s the idea: on Tuesday November 27, charities, families, businesses and individuals are coming together to transform the way people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season. It’s a simple idea. You find a way for your family, your community, your company, your organization, or just yourself to join in acts of giving. Tell everyone you can about what you are doing and why it matters. Join a national celebration of our great tradition of generosity.


One incredibly easy way to incorporate all three of these traditions is to shop consciously. Choose stores, websites, and brands that take social responsibility seriously, committing a portion of their proceeds and/or time to charity. Since it is time for holiday shopping, you can get even more excited about finding that “perfect” gift for someone you love knowing that it will also be helping someone else. I’ve compiled a list of several companies that make giving back a part of their business to help you get started:


Nordstrom Houston Galleria: Known for their upscale, classy selections, at Nordstom’s you can pick up a gorgeous blouse for your mother-in-law, the perfect cologne for your husband, and a statement scarf for your best friend. While you’re there, don’t forget to stop by their Giving Tree. This year, the Giving Tree will be decorated with $20 gift tags, each good for a new pair of New Balance shoes. With the support from Shoes That Fit, the new shoes will be given to an underprivileged child in need.


 Hooray for the Underdog: This one is for all you animal lovers out there! If you haven’t already ordered your holiday greeting cards, this is the perfect time, at the perfect price point, and with the perfect company! Owners Janet and Joe created their note card line in order to honor all companion animals, with a special focus on those that need the most help. Their holiday line, full of adorable furry friends, will help spread awareness about the need for animal adoption. Plus, ten percent of proceeds go to animal welfare groups and shelters. Win, win, win!


Bidding For Good: We all have that one person on our list who is incredibly difficult to buy for. He or she already has everything so finding that perfect “something” can be daunting. But, when faced with these challenges, I head over to Bidding For Good. Whether you’re looking for Super Bowl 2013 tickets for your uncle, a special dinner for two for the in-laws, or a couples’ cruise for yourself and your spouse, you’ll find it here. Companies donate items and once they are sold in the auction, give all proceeds to the charity that is listed alongside the item. Once you do find the perfect gift, you simply make a bid and monitor the auction until it ends! The Bidding For Good creators made it an incredibly easy site to navigate, enabling you to shop by item type, price range, and location.


Toys R Us: Who’s got two thumbs and is definitely planning to make a stop or two here over the next couple of weeks? That’s right- this girl! With the exception of the occasional temper tantrum being thrown in the aisle, I love the energy of this place and my son definitely loves our visits here. I was, therefore, pleasantly surprised to find out that this company has a special “Give Back” program AND they go the extra mile to give back themselves. Here’s the deal: If you would like to give back by paying off the balance of another person’s layaway order this season, Toys R Us will donate $200 worth of toys (the average value of a layaway order) to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation to give to kids in need for the holidays. How awesome, right?


HEB Supermarkets: Now, I know you probably aren’t going to be doing your holiday shopping at the grocery store (although HEB Central Market has some really cool stuff that is totally holiday gift giving appropriate) but you will most likely be preparing a holiday meal or at least bringing a side dish. So, why not shop somewhere that incorporates charity all year long, including the holiday season? HEB is fresh off their annual Feast of Sharing event and standing tall as the very first retail company to raise more than one million dollars for United Way of Houston. In my opinion, food tastes better when part of the proceeds are going to help the less fortunate in our community.


eConscious Market: Branding itself as a “For Benefit” online commerce site, eConscious  Market sells only ecologically and socially responsible products. They also donate up to 10% of every purchase to one of their featured non-profit organizations. Their products include Women’s, Men’s, Baby and Kid’s, Face & Body products, Home Decor, and Fitness Wear and Accessories lines.


PETCO: I whole-heartedly believe that family pets are, in fact, part of the family and deserve a few treats under the tree just like the rest of us. At PETCO, you can find any and everything you could possibly need for your pet (including grooming services and obedience training) and rest assured that you’re buying from a company that supports animal welfare organizations year-round through its own Foundation. Plus, doesn’t Fido need a pair of reindeer antlers to sport on Christmas day? Absolutely!


Gift Cards for a Cause: This is a great site that allows you to pick from an array of gift cards (clothing stores, restaurants, jewelry stores, entertainment offerings, just to name a few) and also any charity organization you would like to donate to. If you have a teenager or college student in your life, this is exactly where you need to go to find what they’re really hoping for. Your gift card is sent to you within 48 hours and Gift Cards for a Cause will make the donation to your chosen organization. As easy as that is, doesn’t it seem silly to buy gift cards any other way?


Osborn Design: The Osborn family is busy “creating beautiful things in beautiful ways.” They design their colorfully ornate footwear from their Brooklyn studio but source the materials and shoe makers in the Guatemalan highlands, enabling out of work shoe cobblers the opportunity to work for a fair wage, bringing in much-needed funds to their communities. They offer flats, oxfords, boots, and sandals and certainly make for a one-of-a-kind present for someone special.


  Heifer International: I’m not sure why but I recently recently received a mailing from this organization and, as you can imagine, it caught my eye based on the name alone. I’m glad it did because they are doing pretty amazing work. Rather than spending $20.00 on a new lipstick for your sister, why not honor her by purchasing a flock of chicks in her name to give to a hungry family? It might not sound like much but a flock of chicks can help families add nourishing, life-sustaining eggs to their inadequate diets and, even better, it’s a gift that will keep on giving; once grown, a good hen can lay up to 200 eggs a year- plenty to eat, share, or sell! The Holiday Gift Catalogue also includes sheep, llamas, irrigation pumps, and sending a little girl to school. When you compare any of that to a tube of lipstick, it’s a no-brainer.


I hope you participate in Giving Back Tuesday this year and would love for you to share if you do! Giving back has definitely become easier to incorporate into your everyday life and it is a wonderful way to keep perspective during the holiday season. Happy Giving!